A key objective of the Department in deciding visa applications is the need to maintain the integrity of Australia’s immigration system. As part of this, it adopts measures to detect fraudulent applications and to prevent misuse of the partner visa program. As a result, there are certain factors which the Department views as posing a greater level of risk that information/documents provided by visa applicants are not genuine.
Where such risk factors are presented in a visa application, this will result in a higher level of scrutiny being applied by the Department in deciding whether visa grant requirements have been satisfied. This will likely cause delays in the processing of an application, extending already significant average processing times, which are currently set between approximately 18 to 26 months in the partner visa stream, even further. These higher risk factors can also pose a greater risk of a visa refusal, should Immigration not be satisfied that visa grant requirements have been met.
If you are looking to apply for a partner visa, it is important to be aware of the types of factors which can cause concern for the Department. Being informed about the types of factors to look out for when lodging your application means that you can address these issues proactively as they apply to your case and to anticipate and be better prepared should issues arise in your own application if you are requested to provide further information by Immigration.
In this article, we discuss the more common types of risks factors which may arise for partner visa applications.
Note that this is not an exhaustive list, given that each relationship is different, any relevant risk factors that may arise will depend on the individual circumstances of each case. Set out below are some of the risk factors which Immigration look at for partner visa applicants:
Providing inconsistent information/documents
The following can indicate to Immigration that there is a higher level of risk that an application is not genuine:
- information submitted as part of an application (contained in submitted forms) and documents provided as supporting evidence are inconsistent with information/documents provided as part of previously lodged visa application/s
- information/documents submitted as part of the application are inconsistent and contain conflicting facts/dates, etc.
If you have previously lodged a visa application in Australia, you should ensure that any information/ documents which you supplied at that time match up with the information/documents which you are presenting in your partner visa application. If there are inconsistencies, Immigration is likely to follow this up to account for the difference/s.
Similarly, it is important that all facts/dates/etc. that you provide in your application correspond, especially for more material matters such as when and where you first met your partner, when and where you first started living together, details about your partner such as their date of birth, their family situation and other significant aspects of their life. If either you or your partner is unable to recall basic but significant facts about each of your lives, this will raise suspicions about the genuineness of your relationship. This would be especially important in an interview with the Department.
If Immigration contacts your supporting witnesses, or other third parties to confirm information which you have supplied, and the information they obtain does not correspond with what you have provided in your application, this would also be a risk factor.
External information sources for a sucessful partner visa
When preparing your visa application, be mindful that Immigration may check the information that you provide against publicly available information (for example, on social media) as well as checking with other government authorities or organisations. Data is shared among Government departments, and therefore Immigration is likely to have access to any information/documents relating to your affairs that these other organisations have about you.
As an example, if you have submitted a tax return in which you have not declared your relationship, or you have provided other information to the Australian Taxation Office which does not match with your partner visa application, given Immigration will have access to this information, you run the risk of being asked to explain this discrepancy.
Errors or incomplete information
Providing accurate, complete and correct information is critical when preparing your visa application and any associated documents which are to be submitted to the Department. If you realise that you have made a mistake after you have already lodged your application, you should take the appropriate steps to notify Immigration about the error as soon as possible after detecting the mistake, especially if it is a material piece of information.
Errors can also raise the risk of further scrutiny given it would be reasonable to expect that a genuine applicant would be across all the facts of their case. Making mistakes, especially with regard to key dates and events in either your or your sponsor’s life is likely to raise alarm bells for the Department. On the other hand, a human error also occurs, which is why it is so important to correct all mistakes as quickly as you can once you become aware of them.
Lack of evidence for a partner visa
You must address each requirement for visa grant with appropriate documentation to verify your claims. Failing to do so at the time that you lodge your application can result in a refusal, or at the very least, it can cause delays as the Department requests this information from you (note that it has no obligation to do so and can make a decision based on the documents that are provided).
A key requirement applicable to a partner visa application is the existence of an exclusive, genuine and continuing relationship. Therefore, providing evidence to verify this is crucial for your application to succeed. If you are unable to supply evidence to cover each relationship aspect as required, you should provide appropriate explanations/documents to account for the shortfall (note you should be fully informed about these aspects, which are specified in the regulatory provisions, before you lodge your application, to ensure that they are adequately addressed).
Not living together or living together for less than 12 months
If you lodge your partner visa application on the basis of being in a de facto relationship with an Australian sponsor, you will need to provide evidence documenting a minimum 12-month relationship duration period, unless you meet one of the specified exemptions. These include registering your relationship with a State or Territory Government or having compelling and compassionate reasons for lodging your application before this period has passed.
In assessing whether your relationship meets the definition of a de facto relationship in accordance with the migration legislation, the Department will consider your cohabitation arrangements, being a key aspect of this definition.
If you have not lived with your de facto partner, or you have lived together, but for a period of fewer than 12 months, you can expect a greater level of scrutiny of your application as Immigration determines whether you meet the definition of a de facto relationship. It is therefore critical that you address this shortfall by providing detailed explanations and appropriate evidence as applicable. Otherwise, you run the risk of a visa refusal.
Public Interest Criteria 4020
As a final point, where you have provided inconsistent or incorrect information or documents with your application, in addition to the discussion above, you also risk failing to meet public interest criteria 4020, a requirement for visa grant, with serious consequences as a result.
If you provide a bogus document, or false or misleading information as part of your visa application, your application can be refused. This can also result in a 3-year ban on being granted a further visa to Australia.
Given the potentially serious consequences of having your application refused on these grounds, ensure that you submit accurate, complete and genuine information/documents. As part of their integrity measures and as noted above, Immigration will likely verify your claims and contact external sources to confirm that a document/information is genuine.
Get a second pair of eyes to look through your application
In conclusion, given the highly complex nature of the migration laws, and the fact that every individual case is different, we recommend that you engage a registered migration agent to make sure you submit a complete and well-supported application which is presented with the strongest possible evidence, in order to give you the best chance of visa grant. Your agent will be able to provide you with detailed advice about potential risk factors as they apply to your application, and the best way to address them in your application. This will enable you to be fully informed before you lodge with the Department, and pre-empt any potential problems arising, thereby avoiding additional unnecessary costs and delays, and ultimately a visa refusal.
Book a consultation with us today for any immigration assistance and a comprehensive visa assessment.