We are applying for the Partner Visa (subclass 309/100) which is for married and de facto couples. I am bel marito's sponsor and we are applying off-shore which means that when the visa is accepted (we are hopeful) we must be outside of Australia for it to be granted. If bel marito is granted the 309 visa this is a temporary visa which entitles him to live in Australia for 2 years. During this time anyone on the 309 visa can find work as this visa will allow it but they cannot claim social service benefits. When the 2 years are up each case is looked at again and if the couple is still together then a permanent 100 visa is granted which means the applicant can stay in Australia for ever and work and live as one of us, with access to benefits. Sometimes a couple can be lucky and be granted the 100 visa immediately if they have been together long enough. Maybe since we have been together for 5 years and have a bel bambino we will be lucky.
We are not using an immigration agent since we don't think it's necessary. Perhaps if you come from a high risk country or have a criminal record then it would be advisable...I am no expert, but I think we can do it ourselves. Our application is about 2cm thick at the moment, and hopefully it will be finished this week so we can send it to be assessed. We need to show that we have a '..mutual commitment to a shared life as husband and wife to the exclusion of all others. Show that we have a genuine and continuing relationship. Show that we are living together and that bel marito meets health and character requirements...'
Now how do we prove that our relationship is genuine? Well, the Australian Immigration websites provides a lot of information thankfully which goes a little something like this:
- History of relationship (statutory declarations from applicant and sponsor) - how we met, when the relationship developed, when we decided to marry or become de facto, how we support each other financially, physically and emotionally and when this level of commitment began, any periods of separation - when and why etc... and future plans. We have nearly finished these, mine is a whopping 5 pages since I can't seem to condense 5 years into less pages.
- Evidence of relationship FINANCAL aspects: evidence of joint ownership real estate, cars etc... joint loans, joint bank accounts, sharing of household bills and expenses. This is our problem area. We have a joint bank account and we both used my British bank account so I've printed off loads of bank statements. That's all we have for this section though...
- The nature of the household: we have to provide evidence of our living arrangements, joint ownership or rental of the place we live, joint responsibility of children, correspondence addressed to us both at the same address. We have some from this section. In the statutory declaration we've written how we look after the baby. We have residency certificates which show us as a nuclear family at the same address and we have letters and postcards addressed to us both.
- Social context of the relationship: How friends and family view the relationship. Joint invitations, statutory declarations from people saying they know us both as a couple, evidence of joint travel, joint participation in sporting, cultural and social activities. This section is ok, we have heaps of joint travel evidence, photos of us with each others family, stat decs from family and joint invitations.
- The nature of our commitment to one another: Knowledge of each others personal circumstances, long term intentions, evidence of how relationship was maintained when we were apart. This section should be ok. We have bel bambino which is pretty good proof that we have long term intentions! Also we have emails from when we were apart.
Once our case has been opened, criminal checks and medical checks will be requested. So, I hope this answers some of your questions. All I can say is that if you are Australian and have even the smallest thought of migrating one day then please, keep anything and everything you can to prove you are a couple. I used to throw everything away until my twin sister told me not to a few years ago. We had no plans to migrate then, but agreed to keep plane ticket stubs, emails etc... and now how thankful am I!