FINDING love overseas can be an exciting experience, but when/it comes to your new love moving to Australia, there are several administrative and legal steps to take.
Migration agent and lawyer Richard Timpson of Timpson Immigration Lawyers describes the process as complicated with relatively significant costs involved. However, with education and perseverance and the right evidence and claims, love may just conquer over the relationship-based visa application process and a visa granted to allow the relationship to continue in Australia.
Capacity to be a sponsor
A sponsorship application will be assessed on a person's capacity to sponsor, their character and previous history among other things. "Someone's immigration history is important, that is whether they have sponsored someone previously or whether they themselves have been sponsored," Mr Timpson said.
Is there really a relationship?
Mr Timpson said it doesn't matter how two people meet - whether online or face-to-face - in addition to being approved as a sponsor, the couple need to prove the relationship satisfies the Federal Government's rules.
"It will not be enough from the department's perspective that the relationship is only online based," Mr Timpson said. "It needs to progress to where the parties meet in person and pursue the relationship for a period of time together." Ultimately the relationship needs to be spousal, a defacto partnership or where the parties intend on marrying each other.
"Whether you are getting into a relationship with someone in Australia, or someone overseas, there are also financial implications," Mr Timpson said. "It's always important that steps are taken to get advice on protecting their financial interests." This advice should encompass both family law, with the immigration issues provided by a lawyer with registration as a migration agent, or a non-lawyer agent.
Migration and lawyer agents can assist an applicant to identify if there is sufficient evidence to prove the relationship is genuine and can support an application, as well helping to identify and manage the range of documents that need to be collected and attached to the relationship-based migration application.
Role of the Department of Home Affairs
An application can be lodged directly to the department, however, with questions of compliance or interpretation, the department staff tend not to provide advice.
Once the application materials are collated and lodged, it can take between 12 and 18 months for the government assessment of applications to be finalised. If an application is refused, a merits review can be lodged in certain cases and this can take another 12 to 18 months to be heard.
In addition to the migration agent's fees which are usually detailed in a client's costs disclosure statement, there are costs for government lodgement, Australian or overseas medical assessments, possibly translation fees and provision of character documents sourced in Australia and from overseas.
Where to get more information