Applying for an extension
My girlfriend is in Australia on a tourist visa, can she apply for an extension?
Applying for an extension
The answer to this very much depends on whether your Thai girlfriend has the no further stay condition (Condition 8503) attached to her current tourist visa.
- If she has, then she unfortunately must leave Australia to apply for any other visa.
In very exceptional circumstances the no further stay condition can be waived, but generally speaking she must depart Australia to apply for any other visa. The only other visa that can be applied for is a protection visa if the no further stay condition is attached.
- If she doesn’t have the no further stay condition attached then she has a few options available.
The e600 tourist visa
If she only wants to stay less than 3 months more in Australia, she may consider applying online for an e600 tourist visa.
She still needs to satisfy the genuine visitor criteria, but this can simply be applied for online through the DIBP website.
Whilst this visa is being processed, your girlfriend will be granted a bridging visa that will allow her to remain lawfully in Australia. It should be noted however that if she will be remaining in Australia for more than 3 months she will be required to undergo a chest x-ray as Thailand is a high risk country, especially for TB.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will notify you of this any other documentation that may be required after you apply online.
Subclass 600 tourist visa
If your girlfriend wishes to apply for more than 3 months, and she does not have the no further stay condition, then she must apply for a subclass 600 tourist visa by way of submitting a paper application at the nearest DIBP office. Again, she will need to undergo a chest x-ray and further satisfy the genuine visitor criteria.
As with the e600 application outlined above, she will be granted a bridging visa that will allow her to remain lawfully in Australia during the processing of her onshore tourist visa application.
Are you in the process of applying for an Australian Visa for your partner? Looking for help and quality advice? Look no further! Australian Visa Advice – Helping you bring your loved one home.
Meeting your girlfriend on the internet
”I MET MY FILIPINA GIRLFRIEND ON THE INTERNET AND THEN I WENT TO SEE HER IN THE PHILIPPINES – WHAT CAN I DO NOW?”
Many people these days use the internet to search for a friend or girlfriend. Our lives are often so busy in the 21st century and it is hard to find the time to go out to pubs, bars etc and meet new people. So the internet is great in that it allows us to search for new friends from the comfort of our own home at a time convenient to us. 15 years ago it was on the periphery but now using the internet has become main stream and very commonplace globally.
There are many friendship and dating websites. In fact there are usually a variety of sites to choose for even when searching for someone from a particular country, region or orientation.
I know that many Australian men have found and used the different Filipina websites and met a nice lady on the site. Often after the initial introductions and some getting to know each other on the website the conversation shifts to other mediums such as Skype, messengers, SMS’s and of course personal emails.
If things have progressed well we often want to take the next step and think about meeting face to face. If we can manage to get some time off work we arrange to fly over to the Philippines and meet our new friend. Things may then progress from there and after spending some quality time together we often find ourselves in a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend.
However, our holiday time comes to an end and we have to return home to work. This is often a difficult situation for us and our new Filipina girlfriend. I have often been asked:
“What can we do now?”
One option is simply to return home to Australia and wait until you have another holiday break and keep in touch with your Filipina girlfriend until then. This is often not what couples really want – to be separated for another long period of time (usually many months between significant holiday breaks) and it can place a tremendous strain on the relationship.
Depending of course on their situation, what I usually advise people to do is think about whether they would like their girlfriend to come and visit them in Australia. This is often a really good solution because it can achieve a lot of aims. Australian Tourist visas can be granted for periods of 3, 6 or 12 months and this can allow you and your girlfriend to spend a lot of quality time together. This sort of time would not normally be available to most Aussie men who are working 48 weeks a year, or even to some of the men who do shift work or high volume high intensity work followed by a substantial break. The Aussie man can earn a living and still be with his Filipina girlfriend at the same time.
The time in Australia also allows the couple to see how they can work together for longer periods and in a typical daily life environment of going to work, coming home, weekends together, etc. Furthermore, having your Filipina girlfriend stay with you in Australia is usually far cheaper than when you are traveling in the Philippines and staying in hotels every night.
So an initial Tourist visa usually ticks all the boxes and we usually recommend this followed by another Tourist visa or possibly some sort of family visa – like a Fiancé or Partner visa. The fine details really depend on your specific situation and it is always very important to assess this before proceeding. Unfortunately many Aussie men do not realise that obtaining even an Australian Tourist visa for their Filipina girlfriend is not an easy task and a large percentage of self-prepared applications are refused by the Australian Embassy in Manila. The Philippines is considered to be a high risk country by the department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and visa applicants are required to submit a paper application and a considerable amount of supporting documentation. There are a number of assumptions that must be overcome in order for your girlfriend to be granted a tourist visa.
Considering the above we recommend that you consult us to assess your situation, provide you with advice and options and give you a strategy and forward planning so you can achieve your aim of continuing your relationship with your Filipina girlfriend from the comfort of your own home in Australia. We can provide you with both a short and long term strategy and plan so you can be with your Filipina girlfriend now and have the option to be with her in future on a more permanent basis should things progress further.
Australian Visa: health criteria
Australia has very strict health requirements that must be satisfied when it comes to grant of particular subclass of visa. If the health requirements are not satisfied, then the visa will be refused.
What is the health criteria?
Likewise, all primary and secondary applicants must pass the health requirement for the grant of a particular visa.
If an application, eg: for a partner visa, includes primary and secondary applicant, then the general rule is, that if one person fails the health criteria, they all fail.
This has been referred to as the ‘one fails, all fail’ rule.
There are however circumstances where someone who fails the health criteria can nonetheless be granted a health waiver and as such a visa.
The health requirements that must be satisfied are generally determined by the visa being applied for, the length of time that the applicant is intending to remain in Australia, and lastly whether any special significance requirements exist. It is also important in assessing the health requirement to look at which country the applicant is from and where they have previously resided. If there are special significance requirements then the health requirements may be above the minimum required.
Health test that may be required include medical and radiological examinations.
The costs for such test must be paid for by the applicant and are not included in the relevant visa application charge.
The costs for the health tests should be factored into any visa application, and can be considerable when the application includes several secondary applicants, and even immediate members of the primary applicants family who are not intending to migrate.
Family members must test too
Even if immediate members of the primary applicant are not intending to migrate to Australia, they too must satisfy the health criteria. This is often referred to as the ‘one fails, all fail system’. For example if a partner visa or fiancé visa applicant lodges a visa application he or she must satisfy the health criterion that is in force at the time of application. That applicant may have a dependant family member, a child for example, who is not included in the application to migrate. Nonetheless the non-migrating child must pass the health criteria too.
If the child fails the health criteria and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) is unable to waive health requirement for that child, then the primary application will be refused. There are however certain exceptions where it is deemed unreasonable for a non-migrating family member to undergo a health assessment.
When undergoing any health tests for an Australian visa they are usually valid for 12 months from the date the test was undertaken.
Applicants should be aware that if the processing of their visa application takes more than 12 months, and the health tests were undertaken more than 12 months ago, they will have to re-do their test at their own expense.
Unless required to do so to submit your visa application, it is recommended that you wait until you are advised to undergo a health test.
Health requirements: Australian partner visa
For partner visas, applicants must undergo both a medical and radiological examination using the approved forms.
If the examinations are undertaken outside Australia, then they must be performed by an approved medical specialist.
You should wait until you have lodged your application before having any examinations. Your case officer will advise you what examinations need to be undertaken.
The no further stay condition
What does the no further stay condition attached to my Thai partner’s visitor visa exactly mean?
The no further stay condition
The most general no further stay condition is Condition 8503.
For several Australian visas the no further stay condition is mandatory, and it must be attached as a condition of that visa granted.
For other visas the decision maker has discretion whether or not to attach the condition.
Sponsored family visitor visa
If your Thai partner is the holder of a sponsored family visitor visa then this condition will certainly be attached to that visa as there is no absolutely no discretion available to the decision maker to not impose it.
If your Thai partner has been issued a tourist visa then it is quite possible that she may not have the condition attached to her tourist visa.
Where a decision-maker has the discretion to attach the no further stay condition, it is generally done so where the decision maker has some residual concerns that the applicant may not be intending to visit Australia as a genuine visitor only, yet there is not compelling evidence to suggest that she does not have a genuine intention.
When you girlfriend was issued her tourist visa she would have received a letter that stated the conditions which were attached to her tourist visa. Some of the conditions may also include that she must not work whilst in Australia or engage in any study for more than three months.
Australia has started to not place visa labels in passports, and as such all of the visa information pertaining to your girlfriend’s visas is now stored electronically on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) mainframe. It is however recommended to always carry the letter with you when traveling.
The significance of the no further stay condition, when attached to a visa, is that your girlfriend is prevented from applying for any other visa whilst she remains in Australia. She therefore must depart Australia if she intends to then apply for a further Australian visa. This includes tourist visa extensions too.
In exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the visa holder the no further stay condition may be waived.
What’s the difference between a permanent visa and a temporary visa?
Once a person is granted a permanent visa they are permitted to travel to and remain in Australia permanently.
A temporary visa however permits the visa holder to travel to Australia and remain until a specified period of time. A temporary visa holder must either depart Australia before their temporary visa expires, or if their temporary visa permits apply for another visa whilst they are in Australia.
A person who is in Australia as the holder of a temporary visa should never let their visa expire without departing. If this occurs then the person will become an unlawful non-citizen and be subject to removal from Australia. Once a person becomes an unlawful non citizen they will have only a very small number of options available to them to remain lawfully in Australia.
There are currently over 150 different Australian visas, both temporary and permanent.
The most obvious temporary visas are for tourists and there are several different categories of tourist visas, such as:
- the subclass 600 tourist visa,
- the subclass 600 sponsored family visitor visa,
- and the electronic travel authority visa, known in short as an ETA visa.
Depending upon the passport you hold, this will determine the appropriate visa for you if you want to visit Australia as a tourist. If you are from countries such as Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore, then you would be eligible for an ETA visa. If however you are from countries such as Thailand, Vietnam or the Philippines, then unfortunately you would not qualify for an ETA visa and would therefore have to make a paper application for a subclass 600 tourist visa.
All visitors to Australia must have a genuine intention to visit Australia as genuine visitors only, and have access to adequate funds to support themselves during their stay in Australia.
Those who have to apply for a subclass 600 visa need to supply documentary evidence to support their application.
Lastly if you have a relative in Australia who is either an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident, and they are prepared to sponsor your visit to Australia, then you may be able to qualify for a subclass 600 sponsored family visitor visa. It should be noted however that holders of sponsored family visitor visas must depart Australia prior to their visa expiring, and furthermore they cannot apply for an extension or any other visa whilst they are in Australia.
Australia has two main pathways for Australian permanent residency, the family migration stream and the skilled migration stream. Skilled migration is where the applicant has relevant qualifications, work experience and skills that Australia is in demand for. Skilled visas require the applicant to reach a certain amount of points to satisfy the eligibility for a skilled migrant visa. Points are awarded for many things, such as age, level of English literacy, qualifications, skills and recent work experience.
One of the most common permanent visas under the family migration stream is the partner visa. This is where the applicant is in a genuine a continuing relationship with an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident. The relationship must be either a marriage which is legally recognized in Australia, or a de-facto relationship. The requirements for an Australian partner visa based on a de-facto relationship is that the applicant and sponsor have been living together in a genuine spouse like relationship without any significant period of separation for at least 12 months immediately prior to date of application.
Both the applicant and sponsor must satisfy certain eligibility criteria, or the visa will not be granted. For example, the sponsor, being the Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident, must be an approved sponsor, in that they can demonstrate that they can provide adequate accommodation and financial support for their partners first two years of settlement.
Apart from the applicant and sponsor having to evidence that they are in a genuine relationship, the applicant must be able to satisfy Australia’s health a character criteria.
Lastly, partner visa applicants can include in most cases their dependant family members, such as their children for example. Where this happens, the included applicants are known as secondary applicants and the applicant is making a combined partner visa application. All secondary applicants must satisfy their own criteria too. Any dependants of the applicant must satisfy the health and character criteria, whether they are intending to migrate or not. Even if a non migrating dependant fails the health and character requirements, notwithstanding that they are not included in the partner visa application, it can in some cases result in the primary applicants application for a partner visa being refused.
My Thai wife wants to include her children from a previous marriage in her Australian partner visa.
What is meant by the custody requirements?
When assessing an Australian partner visa application, or in fact any Australian permanent visa application that includes a child applicant, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will need to be satisfied that in granting the visa, that is, allowing the child to migrate to Australia, it is not in any contravention of Australia’s international obligations to prevent child abduction.
If your Thai wife wants to include any dependant child under 18 years of age, and the child’s other parent is not migrating to Australia too, then the following evidence must be submitted with the partner visa application. Evidence that each person that can legally decide where the child can live consents to the grant of the visa.
If the parent is deceased
If the other parent is now deceased a certified copy of that parents death certificate. If the migrating parent has the sole custody and responsibility in determining where the child can live, then a certified copy of the court order should also be included in the partner visa application.
Where an applicant includes a dependant family member in their partner visa application and that family member is under 18 years of age, one of the criteria that must be satisfied is that no compelling circumstances exist to believe that the grant of the visa would not be in the best interests of the dependant child.
Note too that the partner visa applicant’s sponsorship undertaking extends to all secondary applicants such as dependant children. As part of satisfying their sponsorship eligibility, all sponsors must submit an Australian National Police Check if the sponsor has spent a total of 12 months or more in Australia since turning 16 years of age.
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Can my Thai wife include other dependant relatives in her Australian partner visa application?
This is a question that is often asked, and causes some confusion. Particularly as Thai culture places such a large emphasis and importance on the family unit. It is not uncommon in Thailand for many extended members of the applicant’s family to live under the same roof. Although this is not very common in western countries it is very common in Thailand.
Including relatives in a partner visa
If your Thai wife or partner has a dependant child, then that child can be included in her partner visa application. By partner visa application we are also referring to the fiancé visa application too, that is, the prospective marriage visa. She will not need to lodge a separate application for the child. If however the child is not currently migrating, but intending to migrate at a later date, then a separate application must be lodged for the child.
The question that often arises however is what other dependant relatives may also be included in your Thai wife’s partner visa application. It is not every family member of your Thai wife that will be eligible to migrate to Australia.
Assessing who is a dependant relative
In order to be assessed being a dependant relative the person must be either the applicants parent, sister, brother, step sister or brother, nephew or niece, step-grand parent, step-grand child, step-aunt, step-uncle step-niece or step nephew. Sounds confusing? However any of those persons must also be single, usually resident in your household and wholly or substantially reliant upon the applicant for their basic living needs such as food, clothing and accommodation. In short there must be reliance upon the applicant.
Furthermore the relative must have been reliant upon you for at least the 12 months prior to the lodgement of the partner visa application and more reliant upon the applicant for the substantial support than any other person or source. As you can therefore easily assess it is not every relative that would be classed as a dependant relative and able to be included in your Thai wife’s Australian partner visa application.
Sponsorship eligibility for an Australian partner visa
All Australian partner visa applicants must have a sponsor. For partner visa purposes this includes fiancé visas, known as a prospective marriage visa, and partner visas whether the application is based on legal marriage or a de-facto relationship.
Sponsorship eligibility for an Australian partner visa
Unlike skilled migration visas, where the application criteria is based on the skills and qualifications and relevant work history that the intending migrant has, the family migration stream is based on the applicant having a genuine relationship with a person who is either an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. Not all New Zealand citizens will meet the requirement of being classed as eligible.
The sponsor must be prepared to not only sponsor the applicant, known as the primary applicant, but any dependant family members who are also included in the application as secondary applicants as well. For example, if an applicant has lodged an Australian fiancé visa application, and the applicant has a child from previous relationship, then the child can be included as a secondary applicant. The applicant would be making what is known as a combined fiancé visa application, or combined prospective marriage visa application. The terms fiancé visa and prospective marriage visa are in fact interchangeable and mean the same thing.
Sponsorship eligibility, secondary applicant
In the example above the sponsor obligations would also extend to the child as well. Depending upon the type of visa being applied for the Migration Regulations provide for exactly who can be considered secondary applicants for the purposes of making a combined application for that particular type of visa. Not all members of an applicant’s family can be included as secondary applicants. Generally it is only dependant family members of the applicant.
Sponsors must satisfy a wide range of criteria in order to be eligible to sponsor their partner or fiancé, which also includes any secondary applicants if they are also included in the application. To determine whether you are eligible to sponsor your partner or fiancé it is first recommended that you complete the sponsorship to migrate to Australia form which is available from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).
The limitations on sponsoring a partner or fiancé
Are there any limitations on sponsoring a partner or fiancé for an Australian partner visa?
The limitations on sponsoring a partner or fiancé
It is very important to note that if you have a partner who you may be married to, in a de-facto relationship with, or engaged to, that is your fiancé, and that partner is considering applying for a partner visa. In some circumstances it could be the case that your partner’s application may not be successful because your sponsorship is affected.
Some of the circumstances where your sponsorship can be affected are where you have previously sponsored two or more partner visa applicants or sponsored another applicant within the past 5 years, or you yourself were sponsored as a partner or fiancé in the past 5 years.
Although the Migration Regulations provides for strict criteria with regards to limitations on sponsorship for partner visas. If your sponsorship is affected, then in compelling circumstances you may still nonetheless have your sponsorship approved. Generally these are circumstances where your previous partner has died, your previous partner has abandoned the relationship and there are young children involved. Other circumstances make include that you are now in a long standing relationship with your current partner or fiancé, or that you have children with your current partner or fiancé.
The limitations that are placed on sponsorship may seem harsh to some, but they have been put in place to prevent abuse of Australia’s partner migration program. If your sponsorship is affected then it is very important to get proper advice as soon as possible. If your sponsorship is refused, then your partner or fiancés visa application must be refused as well.
As stated in compelling circumstances your may be eligible for a waiver. The decision maker at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will take all relevant circumstances into consideration when deciding on whether or not to exercise their discretion. The decision maker will also take into account your ties with Australia and whether refusing the sponsorship would result in any hardship or detriment.
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All partner visa applicants must have a sponsor
What are my obligations when sponsoring my partner for an Australian fiancé visa or a partner visa?
All partner visa applicants must have a sponsor
However not all people will be eligible to sponsors their partners. There are circumstances where a sponsor may be precluded from being an eligible sponsor. This can be for a number of reasons, previously sponsoring two or more partner visa applicants, or being sponsored themselves for a partner visa within the last five years.
Sponsoring an Australian visa applicant
All partner and fiancé visa sponsors sign an undertaking on their sponsorship form which is submitted with the applicant’s application. The sponsorship must be submitted at the time as the applicant’s partner or fiancé visa application.
If your fiancé is applying for a fiancé visa, knows as a prospective marriage visa, as the sponsor you will be solely responsible for all financial obligations that your fiancé may incur during his or her stay in Australia. This is why part of your sponsorship assessment the Department of Immigration will need to know your employment and financial circumstances.
If however your partner is granted a partner visa, as the sponsor you must provide adequate accommodation and financial assistance that is needed to meet your partners living needs. It is accepted that this requirements extends to reasonable living needs.
Sponsoring an offshore partner visa application
If your partner is lodging an offshore partner visa application, then you are required to provide your partner with adequate accommodation and financial assistance to cover their first two years in Australia. If your partner is applying onshore, then the assistance would cover the two years after the successful grant of the temporary partner visa.
In short you must be able to provide for your partner from the time they are granted the temporary partner visa until the grant of the permanent partner visa. This period of time is generally two years. As part of a well thorough and well prepared partner visa application the sponsor should include documentary evidence that support their ability to provide accommodation and financial assistance to their partner.
If your partner’s application includes secondary applicants, then your sponsorship undertaking extends to all secondary applicants as well. For this reason it is very important to first ascertain whether you have the capacity to provide the support for not only your partner, but any included secondary applicants.
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If your partner visa or fiancé visa relationship breaks down
What happens if the partner visa or fiancé visa relationship breaks down?
If you are a sponsor, and the relationship with your fiancé or partner has broken down, then you must notify the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) as soon as reasonably possible.
This obligation extends to even before the visa is granted. So if you lodge your sponsorship with the application, and the relationship breaks down before the visa is granted, you must notify DIBP.
After you have notified DIBP, an officer from that department will make inquiries with the applicant to determine whether the relationship has in fact broken down. You will then be asked to withdraw your sponsorship.
After you withdraw your sponsorship
Australia has very strong privacy laws. After your sponsorship has been formally withdrawn you will not be able to receive any further information or correspondence from DIBP in relation to your former partners or fiancés partner or fiancé visa application.
The applicant is also under a legal obligation to notify DIBP of any change in their circumstances, and this includes where a relationship has broken down. If an applicant fails to notify DIBP of their change in circumstances and a permanent partner visa is later granted on false information contained with a visa application, it can be cancelled because of the applicant’s failure to notify the department of their changes in circumstances.
In some circumstances, if your former partner or fiancé has already been granted a temporary visa and they are currently in Australia, then they may depending upon the circumstances be eligible for a permanent partner visa notwithstanding that the relationship between applicant and sponsor has broken down.
If the relationship has broken down both the applicant and sponsor must notify DIBP as soon as possible and it is highly advisable to seek independant advice on what options may be available.
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Does a Buddhist wedding ceremony count?
I am not married to my partner in the formal sense, however my girlfriend and I did have a Buddhist wedding ceremony in Thailand. Does this count towards getting an Australian spouse visa?
Buddhist marriage ceremonies
Generally there is no confusion when it comes to marriage. It must be a marriage that is legally recognised in Australia pursuant to the Marriage Act.
Some countries, such as Thailand for example have other marriage like ceremonies, such as a Buddhist marriage ceremony. If you are getting married in a county like Thailand, to your Thai partner, this in itself is not a legally recognised marriage for Australian partner migration purposes.
That is not to say that you can’t get married in Thailand and apply for a partner visa on the basis of a legally recognised marriage, but the Thai Buddhist ceremony itself would not suffice. If you were to marry in Thailand it must be registered. Then a certified and translated copy of the marriage certificate must be submitted with the partner visa application.
If you are not legally married
If you are not legally married you may still be eligible to apply for a partner visa if you have been in a de-facto relationship with your partner. To be eligible for a partner visa on the basis of a de-facto relationship you generally need to satisfy the following criteria. Both the applicant and sponsor have been in a genuine relationship for at least the entire 12 months prior to lodging the partner visa application.
You need to be able to show you both you and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others and that the relationship is genuine and continuing.
What exactly is the definition of a de-facto relationship?
And, do we qualify?
Any applicant for an Australian partner visa must be legally married to their sponsor who must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
In assessing whether an applicant and sponsor are in a de-facto relationship you will need to show that you have been living together for the entire twelve months immediately prior to lodging the partner visa application. If there has been any period of separation during that 12 month period, then it must only be temporary.
When a partner visa application is submitted based on the de-facto relationship between applicant and sponsor, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will take into consideration all of the evidence that establishes the genuineness of the relationship, such as living together full time, the sharing of important social and financial commitment for example.
A partner visa based on a de-facto relationship is the most appropriate visa for same sex couples. Currently same sex couples are ineligible to apply for a partner visa based on marriage or a prospective marriage visa.
You can do the Australian visa application yourself and you can be successful!
A child from a previous marriage
My partner has a child from a previous marriage. Can the child be included in her partner visa application?
Including a child in an Australian visa application
The visa type will dictate who can be included as a secondary applicant. Generally it is restricted to dependant members of the applicant’s immediate family unit. In most cases it will be children from a previous relationship, or perhaps even children from the current relationship between applicant and sponsor.
The applicant is always referred to as the primary applicant, and other applicants who can be included in the application, known as a combined application, are known as the secondary applicants.
A child from a previous marriage
With regards to partner and fiancé visa applications, combined applications are very common. It is not uncommon for a partner visa application to include one or two children as secondary applicants.
All applicants, whether primary or secondary will have their own criteria that needs to be satisfied in order to be granted a visa including custody requirements.
Many issues arise however when children are included in a partner or fiancé visa application and they are not the biological children of the sponsor.
The Australian Governments primary concern is the safety and welfare of any children included in a visa application. When a decision maker at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) is assessing a partner or fiancé visa application that includes a child as a secondary applicant the decision maker will need to be sure that the sponsor has not had any convictions for child sex offenses. This may indicate that the pose a significant risk to the child. If you are sponsoring an applicant and there is a child included as a secondary applicant then you will need to provide relevant police checks as part of the assessment of your sponsorship.
Another issue that frequently arises with regards to partner and fiancé visa applications that include children as secondary applicants, is that DIBP needs to be satisfied that those who have the legal responsibility to determine where a child can live consent to the child migrating to Australia permanently. It is presumed that both of the child’s natural parents have the joint responsibility in determining where a child shall live.
In the absence of a court order granting the applicant the sole responsibility for the child, a letter should be obtained from the child’s other parent which clearly states that he agrees to the child migrating to Australia permanently. If the other parent is deceased, then a certified copy of the death certificate should be included.
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What is a fiancé visa?
Often referred to as a ‘fiancé visa‘, the prospective marriage visa is for people who are outside Australia and who are engaged to be married to an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
It is only for people who are outside Australia, because the prospective offshore marriage visa can only be applied for outside Australia.
There is no onshore equivalent to the prospective marriage visa.
This not to say that the applicant and sponsor cannot become engaged if they are both in Australia together, but the application must be made whilst the applicant is offshore.
It’s important to note that the sponsor doesn’t have to be offshore at the time of application – only the applicant!
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Once the prospective marriage visa is granted
Once the visa is granted the applicant has nine months from the date of grant in which he or she must travel to Australia. During this time the applicant and the sponsor must marry. It is a strict condition too that the applicant and sponsor must not marry prior to the applicant’s arrival into Australia. If this were to occur, the applicant would have breached a condition of their prospective marriage visa.
If the marriage does not take place within the nine month period, then the applicant would have breached a condition of their visa and this can lead to very serious consequences.
There are many other conditions that are also attached to a prospective marriage visa. It is important that both the applicant and sponsor are fully aware of all the conditions attached to a prospective marriage visa and the serious consequences of non-compliance.
After the applicant and sponsor have married (within the nine month period), the applicant then has to apply for an onshore partner visa based on their marriage to the sponsor. This is a two stage process. The applicant would be granted a temporary partner visa which is valid until a determination is made on the applicant’s permanent partner visa. This period is usually around two years.
It should be noted however, that when the applicant applies for the onshore temporary visa, the permanent visa is also applied for at the same time. The permanent partner visa will usually granted after two years if the relationship between the applicant and sponsor is still assessed as genuine and continuing. This is satisfied by providing supporting documentation to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).
Both the applicant and sponsor will be contacted in writing before a determination is about to be made on the permanent spouse visa application, it is crucially important that DIBP are kept up-to-date of any change of contact details of the applicant and sponsor.
Australian partner visas
Australian partner visas or ‘partner migration‘ forms part of Australia’s ‘family migration stream’.
The family migration stream is somewhat different from the skilled migration stream as the visa applicant is in some way related to their sponsor who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
Are Partner Visas Points Based?
Skilled visas are points based visas where applicants must reach a certain minimum level of points in order to qualify for the particular skilled visa that they are applying for. Points are awarded to the applicant depending upon many factors such as age, English literacy, qualifications and skills, recent and relevant employment history related to their particular skill. Skills that are in high demand attract more points.
Partner visas are not points based visas.
Primary Criteria for a Partner Visa
One of the primary criteria that need to be satisfied for the successful grant of a partner visa is that there is a genuine relationship between the applicant and sponsor, who as previously stated must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. There are many other criteria that must also be satisfied for the grant of a partner visa, but without satisfying the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) that the applicant is in a genuine relationship with the sponsor, the application will be refused.
Not all relationships will qualify.
The applicant and sponsor must either be legally married or in a de-facto relationship, and satisfy DIBP that their relationship is genuine and continuing.
There are many factors and circumstances that DIBP will take into consideration in determining whether the applicant and sponsor are in fact in a genuine and continuing marriage or de-facto relationship.
A thoroughly and well prepared partner visa application will include substantial supporting documentation that clearly evidences the genuineness of the relationship. For this reasons application preparation is usually lengthy and processing time once the application is lodged can take several months.
If an application lacks the required supporting documentation considerable delays in processing should be expected. It is up to the applicant and sponsor to submit all of the required supporting documentation.
Australia also recognizes same sex relationships for the purposes of partner migration. If the applicant has been in a same sex relationship for at least twelve months, and they can satisfy DIBP that their relationship is genuine and continuing, then the applicant may qualify for a spouse visa. Currently Australia does not recognize same sex marriages for partner visa migration purposes however.
The Character Requirement.
What is it? What does it entail?
Any person wanting to enter Australia is required to have their character checked against a number of criteria set out by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). This is the case no matter which visa you want to apply for. However, how stringent the character assessment is depends on which visa you want to apply for and what you and your girlfriend’s circumstances are.
For example, if your girlfriend is a Thai citizen wanting a Tourist visa to visit you in Australia, she will need to answer some questions about her character in the visa application.
Depending on what answers she gives, DIBP may or may not want to chase the matter up further to clarify things and possibly obtain more details. Sometimes they will ring her up and ask her some questions, or ask her to come in for an interview.
The character requirements detailed in the Migration Act are usually supplemented by and linked to the class of visa being applied for through specific Public Interest Criteria.
The Character Test
The character tests put the onus on the “Applicant” to show that they are of good character. In other words, it is not up to DIBP to prove that your Thai girlfriend is of bad character. She has to show that she is of good character in a general and criminal sense.
As well as being used as a tool to help assess the suitability of people to enter and remain in Australia, and/or sponsor a visa applicant to come to Australia, the character test introduces discretionary powers to either refuse or cancel visas if the person does not pass the character test.
Character is also determined in an overall general sense by looking at the background of the applicant, their previous employment history, their previous visa history, etc.
The investigation into her character will be more rigorous if she is applying for a permanent visa or a visa that leads to a permanent visa. Applicants for these sorts of visas have to obtain Police Certificates from their country of passport that shows if they have any criminal record.
If your Thai girlfriend, fiancé or partner is migrating to Australia on a Fiancé or Partner visa and she has a child under the age of 18 that will be migrating with her, you will also have to have your character assessed. You will be required to obtain an Australian Federal Police National Police Check.
Furthermore, if you or she has spent a lot of time in one or more other countries over the last 10 years you may both also be required to obtain Police Certificates from those countries as well.
The timing for when to obtain character documentation can also change depending on where the application is made.
If either yourself or your Thai girlfriend have a minor criminal record this could affect her application.
Will this mean the application will automatically be refused?
Not necessarily. It will depend on the nature of the criminal record. Visa applications will often be refused if she or you have a substantial criminal record, an association with an individual, group or organization suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct, if there is a significant risk that she will engage in criminal conduct in Australia, harass or stalk another person in Australia, vilify a segment of the Australian community, or incite discord in a segment of the Australian community, or represent a danger to the Australian community.
What Are Your Visa Options, After A Tourist Visa?
What Are Your Visa Options, After A Tourist Visa?
If you have brought your girlfriend to Australia on a Tourist visa, to visit you, and things have gone well, you may be wondering “what now?” Do you try to bring her out on another Tourist visa of the same length (or longer or shorter duration) or do you opt for some other sort of visa – something that might lead to permanent residency?
These are important questions to ask, because taking the wrong approach can lead to delays, irreversible positions, and visa applications ultimately being refused.
Visa Planning for your girlfriend is just as necessary as family and financial planning and early planning and preparation is vital for both short and long term success.
Clearly, what step you take next will depend on your individual situation.
- At what stage of your relationship are you and your girlfriend at?
- How long have you known each other?
- How much actual face-to-face time have you spent together?
- Do you want to take the next step in the relationship or are you happy where you are?
If you are both happy where you are you might not want to enter into a more serious de facto relationship or get engaged or married… In that case you might want to think about applying for another Tourist visa. But you will still have to think carefully about your situation and the timing of applying for a Tourist visa!
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will not grant Tourist visas indefinitely and they limit the amount of time they will allow on any visa or a series of visas. They also look at the amount of time spent in the home country and abroad, so it is strongly recommended that you speak to an experienced migration agent who can clearly explain the Department’s policies and help you to work out the best option for your situation.
If you decide that it’s time to take the next step in your relationship, you may decide that you and your girlfriend want to get engaged. This decision may certainly affect the next visa that she applies for.
Taking the Next Step
Tourist visas have a very limited scope in terms of who can apply for them and the purposes of the visit.
You may need to think about whether your will apply for a Prospective Marriage (Fiancé) visa or will you get married first and then apply for a Partner (Marriage) visa? Will you apply in Australia or your girlfriend’s home country?You also have to ask yourself “will my girlfriend qualify for this visa?”
DIBP has very strict rules about who can apply for Tourist, Fiancé and Partner visas. In many situations they will say “this is the wrong visa for you – you need to apply for a different visa.”
If you and your girlfriend want to take the next step in your relationship but do not want to get married or engaged you may want to think about a de facto relationship. DIBP recognizes de facto relationships but it does have very strict rules about what defines a de facto relationship. Evidencing a de facto relationship can also be complicated and is also something that must be undertaken carefully.
Timing is obviously very important in your preparations as well, because while a Tourist visa takes only about a week to process, a Fiance or Partner visa can take up 6-12 months to process. This means that if you and your girlfriend go for the Fiance or Partner visa option you will have to think very carefully about your contact arrangements while the visa is processing.
Children from a Previous Relationship
Sometimes there are also children to consider. Your girlfriend may have a child from a previous relationship. While the child may have remained in the home country during the period of your girlfriends Tourist visa, if you two are considering a permanent visa she may want the child to migrate with her to Australia. If this is the case the most important thing you need to look at is the custody arrangements. If she does not have full custody of the child or children then the father will have to give permission.
In summary, there are a lot of options open to you and your girlfriend to choose another visa after her initial Tourist visa. The best piece of advice I can give is to think carefully about what the different options encompass – the obligations and requirements, and always plan ahead.
Can I include member of my family?
“Can I include a member of my family in my Australian visa application?”
Many people often ask the question and in most cases the answer is, ‘Yes, you can’.
A clear example of this may be a partner visa applicant including their children from a previous relationship within their application. This is referred to as making a combined visa application.
Including family members in an application
The main person making the application is known as the primary applicant, whereas the other family members are known as the secondary applicants.
Whether you are a primary applicant or a secondary applicant you must all satisfy Australia’s stringent health and character requirements.
Click here to find out what those health and character requirements are, or to get more information on Australian Partner Visas.
Combined Visa Applications
Although combined visa applications are very common, it is very important to understand whether the relationship that exists between the primary and secondary applicant is one that will suffice to make an eligible visa application. The criteria for making a combined application will vary significantly depending upon the type of visa the primary applicant is contemplating applying for and there are currently over 150 different types of Australian visas, all with different rules associated with them!
Which family members can apply?
Australia’s migration regulations clearly set out which family members can be eligible to make a combined application depending on the visa being applied for. Put simply whether the family member is an acceptable secondary applicant for that type of visa. In some visas they will be, in others they simply won’t. Without stating the obvious a third cousin would not be an eligible secondary applicant where there is a primary applicant for a skilled migration visa.
As with all visas, all applicants must meet the strict eligibility criteria relating to the visa they are applying for. This goes for secondary applicants as well. They too will have to meet the secondary eligibility criteria relating the primary applicant’s application.
It should be noted that the success of a secondary visa applicant is totally dependant upon the primary visa applicant’s application. To use the above example again, if a spouse visa applicant wanted to include his or her two children from a previous marriage, and they satisfied all of their secondary criteria, but the primary visa applicant didn’t, for example, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) were not satisfied that a genuine relationship existed between applicant and sponsor, then the whole application would be refused.
An Invitation for my Thai girlfriend to visit or live with me in Australia
What is it? What visas does it apply to?
You and your Thai girlfriend may get to the stage where you would like her to spend some time with you in Australia. There could be many reasons for this: you may want her to meet some of your family and friends; you may want her to be able to experience a taste of the Australian way of life; you may want to see if your relationship will work when you are living together on a full-time basis while you are working; and you may just want to enjoy doing some touring around Australia together.
Whatever the reason, if she is to come to Australia your girlfriend will have to apply for and be granted a visa. A Tourist visa will usually be the most suitable visa for the purposes described above. Thailand is classed as a ‘high risk’ country by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and obtaining even a Tourist visa is not necessarily an easy thing to achieve. In fact over 50% of self-prepared applications are refused.
DIBP requires that Thai applicants fill in a paper application and provide a considerable amount of supporting documentation. DIBP looks more closely at the personal situation of applicants from ’high risk’ countries such as Thailand and the Philippines than from other countries such as the the USA, Japan, South Korea, the UK and others in western Europe.
Your Thai girlfriend, on her own, may not be able to meet all the requirements for a Tourist visa. However, all is not lost. You as her Australian boyfriend can offer to support her visit by providing her with an invitation to visit you. This invitation should include an offer of support for her visit. Support can take on many different forms. You can offer to provide her with financial support to cover her expenses such as a plane ticket and living costs. You can offer to provide her with accommodation or virtually anything else that she might need while in Australia.
It is important to realise that providing an invitation will not necessarily automatically result in your girlfriend getting her Tourist or other visa. When you submit an invitation DIBP will look at your personal situation and have to assess whether your offer of assistance is going to fully meet the visa requirements. Furthermore, there are many ‘red flags’ or risk factors which DIBP looks out for. DIBP is often concerned that people coming to Australia for a visit really have alterior motives like wanting to work or live in Australia permanently and they need to be persuaded that this is not the case. The Australian Embassy looks out for inconsistencies and signs that the applicant’s actual intentions are not congruent with the case they put forward. There are many counter intuitive aspects of a visa application that people get wrong all the time. People often think DIBP wants to hear one thing or another but it is often the case that the opposite is true. So it is easy to see that badly a prepared invitation can actually be worse than no invitation at all.
As well as invitations being suitable for you to provide for your girlfriend for a Tourist visa, they can also be suitable for other types of visas. For example, a Student visa whereby you might offer to provide an invitation and offer for financial support in the form of the tuition fees or living costs. Also for Fiance and Partner (Marriage) visas where there is a mandatory requirement that the Australian offers to support or ‘sponsor’ the ‘applicant’. In this case the invitation takes on a much more important and demanding role which reflects the permanent nature of these sorts of visas.
At Australian Visa Advice we can offer advice on invitations, offers of support and every other aspect of a visa application. Feel free to consult us for a free assessment by clicking onto the contact section of the website and following the prompts.
What Can You Do If Your Girlfriend, Fiancé or Wife’s Australian Visa Application is Refused?
Every foreign national needs a visa to enter Australia. For people from most countries, even for a Tourist visa, applicants are required to fill in a paper application and submit supporting documentation. This includes countries like Thailand, the Philippines, India and mainland China.
What Can You Do If Your Girlfriend, Fiancé or Wife’s Australian Visa Application is Refused?
Australian’s that have a girlfriend, fiancé etc. from another country will often want to bring them over to Australia for a visit or on a permanent basis. Sometimes they will not use the services of a qualified Migration Agent to assist them with the application and many of these applications are refused. Evidence shows that over 50% of self prepared applications fail. This is understandable as Australian migration law is very complicated and there is a long list of strict guidelines for each visa category. In this article I will discuss what you can do if you have applied for a Tourist or permanent relationship based visa and it has been refused.
If, for example, your girlfriend’s Tourist visa has been refused there is unfortunately no appeal allowed. All one can do is look at the decision record and try to understand the reasons for the refusal. This can often be a difficult exercise as the terms of the refusal are often written in broad terms and do not necessarily go into great detail. There is no restriction to lodging a new application, but unless you are sure why the visa was refused it may be pointless to submit a new application. Furthermore, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) strongly recommends that applicants do not submit a new application unless their circumstances have changed from the time of their last application. This effectively means that the bar is raised when you make a second application. Their thinking being that if they did not grant a visa the first time why would they grant a visa when nothing has changed. This highlights the importance of getting it right the first time.
If we are talking about a permanent visa like a Partner visa then the situation is different. If an application is refused there is usually a right of appeal to the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT). The MRT is a statutory body which provides a final independent merits review of the visa decisions made by DIBP. The legal criteria and procedure for the MRT’s operation and decision making are complicated, but to put it simply, the MRT has the right to consider the matter afresh and has the power to change the original decision, but unless clear error can be shown to have been made by the decision maker, the appeal may not succeed. Decision makers are given fairly wide discretion in making their findings and as long as any decision made within some aspect of the application is within the guidelines, that original decision may stand. There is also a substantial application fee and strict time limits for applying.
Obviously, it is far better if one never has to get to the stage of having to appeal to the MRT. It can be a time consuming and costly exercise, and that we why we always highlight the importance of getting the application right the first time.
A skilled and experienced Migration Agent can assist you with your visa refusal in many ways. He or she can look at and analyse why the visa application was refused in the first place. Maybe there was some documentation lacking, maybe the application was not structured correctly or maybe the applicant does not fit some of the selection criteria. Your Migration Agent can then advise on how to address the concerns show by DIBP and help you to structure a new application that has a high chance of success.
Migration to another country is a serious business and time and time again the statistics show that in the long run, using a qualified Migration Agent saves time, effort, money and most of all heartache. So while we strongly recommend coming to us in the first place, if you do decide to go it alone and then fail please contact us ASAP so we can get you back onto the right track – the track to a successful application.
Why is getting an Australian visa more difficult?
Virtually every foreign person needs a visa to enter Australia. There are literally hundreds of different types of visas available depending on the reason for your journey to Australia. You may want to migrate permanently, work, study, do tourist activities or conduct business negotiations. Whatever your reason for wanting to enter Australia there will be a visa available to suit your needs.
However, once you find an Australian visa that is right for your needs you still need to satisfy the criteria for the grant of the visa. Depending on the visa you will need to meet character, health, financial, age, and other requirements.
Many Australian visas are also subdivided in categories depending on the risk factor of the applicant. This risk factor is initially determined based on the country of the passport that the applicant for the visa possesses. For example, there are 5 different Assessment Levels for the processing of student visas. If you would like to study English in Australia and you have a passport from a country such as Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland, Japan or the USA you are classed as Assessment Level 1. This is the easiest Assessment Level which requires the least amount of supporting documentation and checks. If you are from Thailand you are classed as Assessment Level 2. If you are from the Philippines or mainland China you are classed as Assessment Level 3. If you are from Cambodia or India you are classified as Assessment Level 4, and so on. Therefore, as you would expect it is more complicated to obtain a Student if you are have a Thai passport than if you a have an Irish passport.
The determination that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) makes about which country passport will be Assessment Level 1 or 2 etc. is based on a number of things including the past visa history of people from that country passport. For example how many people from China have overstayed their visa or breached the conditions of their visa. It is a generalization ad can be seen by some as discriminatory but it is only the start point of DIBP’s enquiries. Once your Assessment Level is determined DIBP then focuses on the individual applicant to determine if they are suitable for the visa.
To use another example, if you would like to obtain a Tourist visa to visit Australia, there are 3 main categories of Tourist visas based on your country of passport. If you have a passport from the USA, Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong (SAR), Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and many European countries you can apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Ian ETA is fairly easy to obtain and can even be done online. If you hold a Thai passport you must apply for a Tourist (Subclass 600) visa. This visa application requires applicants to fill in a paper application and submit supporting documentation. This also includes countries like, the Philippines, India and mainland China. Again, the reasoning behind the differences in procedure for people holding passports from different countries is largely based on government statistics about from visa usage. Working in Australia while on a Tourist visa is not allowed but a relatively large proportion of people from China, Thailand, the Philippines and many other countries have been caught working, whereas less people from countries such as the USA, Switzerland, Japan etc…have been caught working.
It is important not to be discouraged by these initial classifications. While there may be more check made, more supporting documentation required and stricter financial requirements, as long as you qualify for your visa of choice you will be granted it.
At Australian Visa Advice we specialise in Tourist, Fiancé, Marriage and De Facto visas. If you have a Thai passport and you want to apply for a Tourist visa (for example) you should first work out if you would be likely to qualify for the visa. After that you can look at what forms you need to fill out and documents in support of your application you will need to provide. If you need any assistance you can always contact us by email: email@example.com or by phone on 08 4222 3946. We can advice on these things and many other aspects of your visa application or your journey to Australia.