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Partner visas – should we live together?

If you met an Australian citizen or permanent resident while you have been in Australia, fell in love, decided to you want to stay with your partner in Australia, the next step will be getting a Partner visa. Should be no problem, right?

Actually, there could be a few problems if you don’t have a lot of evidence that you really are in a relationship. Basically the main issue in any partner visa application is evidence. Have you got any evidence that you can produce to show the Case Officer at the Department of Immigration –  this is the person who will open and assess your application, – that you are genuine couple?

Many people have friends and family members who will declare in writing that you are real couple. It is good, and it is necessary, but it is far from being enough; you need much stronger evidence than this. Your friends and family will write whatever you ask them to write, mostly, and the Department of Immigration know this.

The Department of Immigration is a bit clever than that, and so will be looking for things that you can’t just ring your friend and ask them to write for you. Like, for example, a lease with both your names on it. What about electricity, internet, gas bills with both you and your partner’s name on it? If you don’t have these, this is a problem. It does not mean you can’t get a partner visa, but it does mean you have to try to produce other evidence that you lived together. It can be done but it requires a bit of brain storming.

Evidence that you lived together is pretty important for a partner visa; de facto or married couples generally live together. Unfortunately, many couples live together but don’t bother changing the names on the lease, or getting the bills in both names; they don’t think it is necessary; that is, until they apply for a partner visa. So they may have lived together for a year but just can’t prove it in documentation.

You don’t have to produce evidence that you have been living together the whole time – there can be periods when you have been apart – but these will have to be explained to the case officer at the Department of Immigration.

It may be obvious to you and your partner that your relationship is real; and many people submitting partner visa applications become incredibly frustrated that their relationship, so obviously genuine to everyone else in their lives, is not simply accepted as a fact by the officer at the Department of Immigration.

However, a case officer at the Department of Immigration opens Partner visa applications all day, and the onus is on you to tell the story of your relationship through documents. If you can’t tell the story of your relationship through documents, then in their eyes, maybe there is no relationship; or at least not a serious, de facto or married relationship. It’s not that they don’t believe you and want to make your life more difficult; but it is simply that there is no solid evidence on which to base a decision that you are a real de facto or married couple, and therefore should get a Partner Visa.

Of course, living together is just one thing that you need to show. There are other pieces of evidence that you will need to gather, and you should do it properly and carefully to give your application its best chance of success.

This post has just been about the one aspect of a partner visa application –  evidence of living together.