When you apply for a partner visa, you must prove that you are in a genuine and continuing relationship with your sponsoring partner. But everyone’s relationship with their partner is different. How do you prove that your relationship is genuine?
4 key aspects
The Department of Immigration mainly looks at 4 aspects of your relationship when they consider if it is genuine.
Firstly, they will look at the financial aspects. So if you have a joint bank account, or you own a property jointly that’s very helpful. Alternatively, you may be renting together, with both of you being noted as tenants on the lease. Ideally, you are both jointly responsible for everyday household expenses, utility bills and other major expenditure.
In practice, we find people often don’t see the need to pool their financial arrangements. They don’t open joint bank accounts. They may be young, which means they own relatively little together.
We would always advise that people who are considering applying for a partner visa should start combining their financial affairs with their sponsoring partner as soon as possible, and certainly many months before applying for a visa.
The second aspect which you need to give evidence on is the social aspect of your relationship. This encompasses a lot of different things. For example, you may be able to show evidence of joint travel (i.e. photos taken of you overseas). Ideally, you should also show that you paid for the joint travel together and you stayed the same hotel while overseas.
If you go to church or some other social gathering together as a couple, it is worthwhile obtaining supporting statements from people who know you at such events. This would prove that you regularly represent to the outside world that you and your sponsoring partner are a couple.
The third aspect of the relationship which is relevant is the nature of your household. You will need to show evidence that you live together, and about how you share your everyday household duties and arrangements. This is where you provide evidence about household work. (Who looks after the property, or prepares meals and so on). If you have children, you may wish to give evidence on matters such as who takes them to school and generally who looks after them in terms of helping with homework.
The final aspect which you will need to focus on is evidence showing how committed you are to each other. In other words, you must prove that you know each other very well and that you intend to stay together in the long term. For example, in an interview with the Department, you may need to demonstrate how well you know each other’s backgrounds. In addition, it is a good idea to prepare wills in favour of each other. Correspondence with your partner, including itemised phone accounts might be useful (especially if you have spent some time in a long-distance relationship).
How you give evidence?
You and your partner provide the above evidence in the form of statements or statutory declarations. You will find that you will need to include plenty of attachments to the statutory declarations (such as phone records, bank account details and so on). In addition, if you are asked to attend an interview, then you would provide evidence verbally.
On top of your own statements, your family members and relatives could also provide statutory declarations in support of your application. They will obviously talk about those aspects of the relationship which they know of. For example, your parents might say that you visited them a few times a year for family barbecues and you attend as a couple, displaying mutual commitment to each other and talking about future plans.
Some practical tips
When preparing your evidence for your partner visa application, it is important to provide as much detail and context as possible and at the same time, to not over explain minor or insignificant details or events. For example, it is generally a requirement that people in a de facto or a spousal relationship live together. However, sometimes this is not possible because of work commitments or some other reasons. It may be tempting to not say much about any periods of separation, but this is not the right move because the Department will pick up on this issue. Rather, it is important to give context and a detailed explanation as to why there was a period of separation, and by doing so you deny Immigration Department the chance to count periods of separation as a negative when deciding your application.