Australian partner visa answersThursday Answers are a response to questions submitted by readers on our regular Ask Mondays posts.

Every Monday I ask people to send in their questions and concerns and I select one to answer. In doing this, I hope you will see that a) you’re not alone in this, b) there are no stupid questions and c) we’re all here to help!

Today’s question is about statutory declarations and what all the fuss is about.

Question:

“What’s the difference between statutory declarations and Form 888? The statutory declaration looks like a blank piece of paper and do we both need to fill one out?”

Answer:

A statutory declaration is like a statement made under oath. When you complete one and sign it you are declaring that whatever you have written in it is true.

The statutory declaration is ‘blank’ because you can use it to attest to the trueness of anything so there are no leading questions that will guide you through the ‘form’. It’s not a form at all. I prefer to use statutory declarations because they let you write free-form and structure it anyway you want. You simply add additional pages if you run out of room.

Form 888 on the other hand, is the ‘form’ version of the statutory declaration for the very specific reason of supporting partner visas. It asks you the questions and then provides you the room to write what you need to write in regards to your relationship or what someone knows about your relationship. Whilst the statutory declaration can be used for any purpose, Form 888 is specifically only for writing and showing something about your relationship.

So why do you need them?

You need statutory declarations or a Form 888 because you need to provide personal written statements in support of your partner visa application. Friends and family who are writing statements in support of your relationship will also need to use either of the forms. There is a preference for people to use Form 888 because it’s listed as the one that you should use in the checklist but it’s not entirely true. You may use the statutory declarations and they’re just as valid. Form 888 is just easier for people to follow. But there are limitations in that you’re confined to those rectangular boxes and the form doesn’t come in a Microsoft Word version that makes it easy to just copy and paste your statement into it.

Furthermore personal written statements do not necessarily need to be statutory declarations or on Form 888. It’s not required under the law. I recommend using them because I’m a lawyer and for the perceived value. I just think it adds extra weight to the application and the genuineness of your relationship because you’ve gone the extra effort to declare it in legally binding documents. But once again, it’s a preference. In my book, I do go through how to structure statutory declarations that you could still use to write your personal written statements.

In the book, I also provide two examples of statutory declarations that outline the good and bad points and use it to demonstrate how you can structure it. The book goes through quite extensively how to address each aspect of the relationship and what evidence you could use. Remember it’s not a word for word play book but a collection of evidence that I personally know works because that’s what I’ve advised my clients to include; to great success.

And finally, yes the sponsor and the visa applicant must provide a personal written statement (or statutory declaration) each and include it in your partner visa application. This document is your single biggest piece of evidence to demonstrate your relationship. At the very least, it will talk about the history of your relationship and that is what the case officer needs to see when they’re assessing your application.

In these statutory declarations you will also have the opportunity to address the 4 aspects of the relationship and how your relationship satisfies that. It is very important to write your statutory declarations carefully and accurately. Any falsehoods or even white lies in these legal documents may be cause for visa denial or cancellation.

Friends and families will also need to choose between a statutory declaration or Form 888 if they’re providing statements in support of your relationship. Form 888 is easy for friends and families to follow as they provide leading questions but my book also has a chapter on how your friends and families can structure their written statements. The Commonwealth statutory declaration just gives more room and freedom to structure the statements however you want. If nothing else, it even accommodates a stream of consciousness writing style.

So to wrap it all up, what’s all the fuss? Well firstly, a personal written statement from the sponsor and the visa applicant is needed. Friends and families will also need to write statements in support of your application (not necessary but very helpful). The format can either be statutory declarations or form 888. The choice between the two (or none at all) is a personal preference. In my book I choose statutory declarations and I write extensively about how to demonstrate the aspects with regards to which evidence. If you have a look at the overview section, or the sample of the book, you’ll see what I mean by this.

In short, included with the book are samples of statutory declarations and a closer look at Form 888. Not to mention the completed application forms for both applicant and sponsor. Check it out in the overview of chapters section and see for yourself.

That concludes this week’s Thursday Answers.

Until next time,

Fiona

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