The very first thing that you should do before you even start any partner visa paperwork is to map out your relationship and document every significant event in a timeline.
Why you ask? Well where are you going to start? If this is not your starting point then I don't know what is. Filling in the application forms should be the last thing you do, not the first. So put those forms down and get cracking on your relationship timeline instead.
If you're really serious about your partner visa application then you need to get organised and you need to start right away.
I suggest you do this exercise separately and then come back together to compare notes.
This will help you both in corroborating each other's stories as well as identifying who else you could get to write statements or statutory declarations for you. And it also helps with preparing evidence. For instances, you both talked about a trip you took. Or only one of you talked about a trip and the other didn't. Then you both remembered the other Aussie couple you met on tour. See how your partner has helped jog your memory?
But warning: this could cause fights. Disclaimer: I'm not responsible for those fights.
You know those shows where they interview couples with the same questions to see if they give the same answers? Or those popular bachelorette parties where they quiz the bride 'how well do you know each other' kind thing? Yeah they never end well.
Kind of like this:
But not so touchy…
Anyhoo, here's how you can get started: Good old pen and paper.
Take a notepad, grab your cup of coffee (or tea if you're like me, hot chocolate if it's a terrible weather day), sit in your comfy corner and start listing the dates of when you met and important events. For e.g. 1st April 2015 – John and I met at The Irish Pub.
Jot down a few notes next to each event. Include things like what was it for, who was there, what did you do. Then when you've both completed that exercise, come together and look over it.
First go through what you have the same – that's good, that shows you're on the same page.
Then go through what you don't have and think about who needs to add what. While you're thinking about why your partner didn't list your mum's 60th birthday party as an important event in your relationship timeline, and before you yell at them, take the time to think about whether every event is necessary.
I don't mean for you to write down every Friday night date that you've had, only the important ones like when John proposed to you or when John brought home a puppy and told you that the puppy is yours and his fur baby. Those are memorable and important milestones in a relationship that's supposed to be a long lasting genuine one.
Great sources to help jog your memory
This is not a test so yes you can copy from your partner. Talk to your partner, have a brief conversation about how you both met each other and how the relationship has progressed. Then go away separately and write your own timelines before coming back together for further discussion.
Use social media to help remember those important events. With social media being such a big part of our lives and even blogs to document our relationships, we have given up a bit of our memory storage to it.
If you keep a personal diary, that's also a very good resource to dig through to remember those big events.
I don't know about you but I like to write everything down in my diary for safekeeping. I want to capture those happy and sad moments when they happen and then for better or for worse I read them again years later. What was for my own personal use had turned into something more useful than just me walking down memory lane – it helped my visa application. With age my memory gets fuzzy and these written aids help me remember the finer details of the events.
Once you start talking to your friends about applying for an Australian partner visa, they'll start thinking about when they met your partner and OMG how fast it has been to get to this serious point. They'll start reminiscing as well and might tell you some stories that you've forgotten.
Hopefully your family has met your partner and are aware of you applying for an Australian partner visa. If not, then this is the time to talk to them because you never know when a case officer might want to interview anyone in your life, particularly family.
Asking family members can jog your memory about family gatherings that you and your partner attended and what happened where.
How to organise everything
There's no need for high tech software but if you want to keep organised a simple spreadsheet would do. Also valuable for those in long distance relationships and cannot physically get together and review your timelines. When you're in a long distance relationship, it's not terribly practical to write on paper, scan and send it over to each other. Best to use a spreadsheet.
And look what we have here, a spreadsheet that I made for this very purpose! It's FREE to download and I hope it helps you to organise your relationship timeline.
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