We started off travelling care-free through Myanmar and photographing temples, and at the time we never thought we would one day have to face the fact that we were from two different countries!
But eventually, the time came. Cindy is French, and i’m Australian – complete opposite sides of the world! We needed some sort of permanent visa – enter the Partner visa (820/801) for permanent residency in Australia.
But what exactly is this visa I keep mentioning to all my friends?
And for people who found this blog, planning to apply; what will you need?
What documents will help?
We first started reading about the Australian permanent residency a year before applying, whilst living in Montreal. I’m glad we did – some of the documents required take a very long time to achieve.
If only it were as simple as filling in a form, paying, and handing in your passport for a new stamp! Unfortunately, the Australian partner visa 820/801 is the most expensive, and probably the most complicated visa that you can hope to apply for.
How much does it cost?
Coming in at over $4575, I would not be surprised if it were the most expensive visa on planet Earth. So start saving. Cindy is the applicant, and i’m the sponsor, and we both needed to include a lot of documentation. Where the 820/801 gets complicated is that it’s basically a character study of the applicant and partner.
This is a long post and requires some explaining – so stay with me!! I’ve included pretty colours so you don’t drift off.
1. Getting started
The official documents are what you’d expect; the official forms from the immi website where you include your info about yourself (26 pages for Cindy alone!), certified copies of passports, birth certificates, passport photos and police checks.
Cindy had a police check sent from France (and translated), and I had an Australian one done. In addition you may need one from any country you’ve spent more than a year in, so prepare for that. Cindy spent about 51 weeks in Canada, so narrowly avoided needing that checked!
2. Health check
Hmm. This was the biggest grey area I was trying to wrap my head around when putting the application together. Cindy needs to see a doctor to make sure she’s A-OK, and as far as I can tell, as long as she doesn’t have tuberculosis, she’s fine. Some people recommend doing this before submitting, others say do it when asked by immigration.
We chose to leave it for afterwards for two reasons; we wanted to have our application submitted fast, because just by lodging, we can extend her ‘6 month rule of working’ for her working holiday visa. Secondly, the health check is a few hundred dollars, and can be at risk of expiring if your visa takes longer than anticipated.
3. Statutory declarations by Australian citizens
2 form 888s are needed to back up the validity of your relationship. We chose to submit 4 by friends and family (to be on the safe side), who each completed a form stating that we are indeed a serious couple, with certified ID included.
We registered our relationship with the NSW office of births, deaths and marriages. I don’t know exactly what it does; but for this visa it is supposed to be rock-solid evidence. This was also our rate-limiting step due to the unwelcome 28-day cooling off period. We waited and obsessively checked our mailbox for this document, the last thing to arrive before we could apply.
Then, after all the official stuff, there’s the supporting documents. This is where this official application suddenly gets pretty personal.
5. History of our relationship
We both wrote one of these; a detailed account in our own words of our entire relationship. Yup, everything – how we met, where we travelled, when we first said ‘I love you’, our seperations and first apartments, how we helped each other through tough money or emotional times, when we met each other’s friends and families, even our future plans. We each typed out about 6 pages, copied them into a statutory declaration, and had them certified.
6. Financial evidence of our relationship
By doing a little research ahead of time, we had the foresight to keep a lot of very important pieces of documentation here. Our strongest pieces of evidence were two joint bank accounts that we held.
One in Desjardins bank in Montreal (which we opened pretty much entirely for this visa), and one from ANZ in Australia that we use to pay our bills. The Montreal statement, written in French, we had translated into a short summary.
We also produced photocopies of joint gas and electricity bills (for the purposes of the visa, we arranged to have both names added to these), and receipts from furniture purchases from IKEA with both our names.
7. The nature of our household
Cindy and I were lucky enough to have been living together for almost our entire relationship; so we included lease agreements from Paris (translated) and Sydney, as well as a bond receipt for our Sydney place.
The gas and electric bills doubled up here to support our household documents. We also added letters addressed to both of us. We even included a statutory declaration describing our chores and who does what!
8. Social context of our relationship
All those wedding invitations and thank you cards, they were all included. We printed a handful of photos (18 in total; i’d heard of people including upwards of 100 but I truly don’t believe that the immigration officer cares that much).
9. The nature of your commitment to each other
This section of the visa is where you would put things such as mentioning each other in your wills, or registering your relationship with a government body.
We didn’t have much for this part, however they recommend including email, Skype and Facebook transcripts during seperation periods. We included emails from when I was in Nepal, and Skype logs from when I went to Canada a few weeks before Cindy.
It’s worth mentioning this – do a lot of shopping around for translation quotes, you can find some huge price differences. Find a NAATI accredited translator from their website. Also, read the results clearly, as we found a large number of mistakes in what should have been watertight documents.
11. Submitting the form!
We dropped our completed application off at the Sydney office. It was massive – at least 300 pages i’d say. We needed the largest size bulldog clip to hold it together. The applications all get dropped into a big common bin (instead of nicely on someone’s desk!) so protect your pages well.
12. And then what?
We got an email the next day confirming our lodgement, with all kinds of reference numbers. We also got our HAP ID, the reference number I was waiting for for the health check. We also submitted a form requesting the waiving of Cindy’s 6-month work restriction. The health check is now booked, then begins the waiting game!