Let me preface this by saying this is a long post. If you’ve found yourself in a similar position to me (either as the Australian sponsor or the overseas partner) I hope that it provides you some reassurance, information and hope. But it’s a long post, so the best thing to do is make a cuppa, sit down, and have a read.
A Quick Intro
Last week Dean got an email saying his 820 Temporary Partner Visa had been approved.
But to be honest as we were sitting there reading the words we’d been waiting to read for more than a year (14 months actually), there was a sense of anticlimax. Yes the first part is over, but there’s still quite a lot to get through. Anyway, onto the story.
Applying for a visa as invasive as the 820/801 Partner visa takes a lot out of a person. For one it can make you pretty paranoid. So paranoid in fact that I have put off and put off and put off writing this post. I wanted to help others on the same path as me, but at the same time I was worried that the Australian Government would read my blog post and somehow think I wasn’t suitable to sponsor Dean. It’s crazy right? Well that’s where I am right now. So I waited until Dean had been approved, and now here we are.
Want another confession? We never even looked at the visa process for Dean emigrating to Australia until more than a year of being together. We just kinda assumed that it would be straightforward. After all, we were in love. As it turns out, the Australian government isn’t in the business of love stories. They’re in the business of paperwork, as is the case with all governments.
I don’t want to make this seem harder than it is but I’m going to be honest here. Applying for that visa was among the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.
Our 820/801 Visa Story
Falling in love with Dean was like a roller coaster I never wanted to end. It sounds corny, but there it is.
Realising what we had to do to keep our love alive in Australia was like hitting a wall that should definitely not be on that roller coaster track. Sudden, jarring, and very painful.
Dean and I met in February of 2013. After just one night we knew we were supposed to be together, I can’t explain why. We just fit. Two weeks later we were living together in a share house in Sydney, with Dean working to save money so he could join me on my first South East Asia trip. I’d planned to leave in April, but I realised pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to let Dean go, so I put my trip off and waited.
We left in July and spent the next five months travelling all around South East Asia. We explored Indonesia (where we climbed a volcano and Dean nursed me through dengue fever), Thailand (where I had an average birthday and we got bamboo tattoos), Cambodia (where we got ripped off and wonderfully flooded out of an island), and Vietnam (where we ran down enormous sand dunes and explored a magical mountain). It was the most incredible trip, but it was over way too fast. In November we parted ways in Singapore, with me heading back to Australia to organise my UK visa and Dean going back to England to work and wait for me.
The next 2.5 months were hard. Like really hard. After spending 24 hours a day together, 7 days a week it felt like part of me had literally been ripped away. I went on a road trip with my family, spent more than $200 on mobile internet calling Dean, and counted down the days. Dean worked, skyped me at ridiculous hours, and tried to survive. We met up in Heathrow and jetted off to Paris for three amazing days of winter love. Then is was back to our new home in the UK, for a year of working, saving and preparing.
We stayed in England for 11 months. It was in itself a wonderful adventure, with lots of walking, exploring, wandering and seeing new things. We covered some serious miles, visited London, saw Brighton Beach, went out in all weather with Dean’s dog Hecter, and generally had an amazing time. But before we knew it the year was over, and we were off again. On our way back to Australia we covered Thailand (where we walked up a really big hill), the Philippines (where we chilled out), Malaysia (where we fell in love with George Town), and Singapore (where I didn’t write a post because we spent the entire time geocaching and eating).
It was in the Philippines, holed up in a hotel room with decent wifi and a steady stream of half-decent tea, that I started to put the visa application together. This was about the same time that I discovered the cost of the visa had recently DOUBLED. Yep, that one slipped right past me, but suddenly we had gone from paying just under $3,500 to almost $7,000, and that’s not including other costs such as the medical, police checks and more. I’m not going to lie, I cried. For several days in fact. Then I got back to the paperwork.
The 820/801 Visa Application
On the surface the 820/801 Partner Visa application seems simple enough. You can submit it online with the applicant (that’s Dean) filling out the Application for migration to Australia by a partner form (47SP) and the sponsor (that’s me) filling out the Sponsorship for a partner to migrate to Australia form (40SP). Now if you’ve opened these forms, you’ll see that they’re just the find the government likes: long and intrusive.
One of the things we had to do was list all of our brothers and sisters, including half and step. Well if you include everyone there are 10 children in my family, and I had to include ALL the details, including when my older brothers got married. Dean has step-siblings he’s never even met, but they all went on there as well.
The other challenging thing was filling out every country we’d been to in the last 10 years. Luckily Dean hadn’t travelled that much in the last decade, except with me. But I had to dig through my old passports and include the time that I spent living as a kid in Indonesia. Complex as hell.
And that was just the beginning.
The biggest thing that Dean and I faced with our application was proving our relationship. We are not married, and didn’t want to get married just to make the visa process easier. So, we applied for our visa as De Facto partners, meaning we had to fit a number of requirements and prove these on paper.
Documents Supplied For Our 820/801 Visa
To make this easier for everyone, I thought that I would just provide a list of all the documentation that we supplied with our application. We didn’t use a migration agent because the cost was too high, so I’m not really sure if some of these documents aren’t 100% necessary. I also included a cover letter that summarised all of the evidence and documents we’d attached. I used a numerical system (i.e. Financial 1.1, Social 2.1) to organise the evidence, and to make for easier referencing in various statutory declarations.
For Dean Specifically
- Birth Certificate
- Certified Passport Copy
- New Passport Sized Photographs
- Police Check From United Kingdom
- Police Check From Australia (didn’t think we’d need this but it took so long to process the visa they asked for this too)
- A Character Stat Dec, signed by Dean and witnessed by a Commissioner of Oaths (at police station)
- Statutory Declaration outlining the nature of our relationship from Dean’s eyes and referencing evidence as below. Including references (my parents), and witnessed by the Commissioner of Oaths.
- Medical Check (Completed just before 820 was granted)
- Form 80 (we didn’t fill this out initially because we were told we might not need it, but they asked for it in the end)
For Me Specifically
- Birth Certificate
- Certified Passport Copy
- New Passport Sized Photographs
- Statutory Declaration outlining the nature of our relationship from my eyes and referencing evidence as below. Including references (my parents), and witnessed by the Commissioner of Oaths.
Proof Of Genuine And Continuing Committed Relationship
- Form 888 Statutory Declarations from four people (three friends and my mum) saying they could confirm the relationship was genuine and ongoing
- Wills showing each other as the sole beneficiary
- Photographs of me sick with dengue fever, to show that Dean supported me in times of illness
- Police report from a theft that happened in Malaysia, to show we support each other in times of financial hardship
- Cards and Letters from the length of our relationship, to show how gooey and romantic we are
- Skype logs for the 2.5 months we spent apart between Nov 2013 and Jan 2014
- U.K. bank statements, to show we had a joint bank account that we used regularly
- Australian bank statements, to show we had opened a joint account upon return to Australia and moved our funds to it
- Letter written by me outlining the financial support that I was able to provide as Dean’s sponsor (although there’s not technically a financial component) including my tax returns for the past 2 years
- Receipt of registration for the car we bought when we arrived in Darwin, registered in both our names
- Electricity bills for our current place in Australia, with both our names (added some months after the original application)
- Lease for the U.K. where we were both signed tenants
- Lease for Australia where we are both signed tenants (added some months after original application)
- Photographs and statements showing that we jointly cared for Dean’s dog in the U.K. (might have been grasping at straws here)
- Letters from U.K. bank showing we lived at the same address
- Statement from Dean’s mother (not a Stat Dec) as evidence to our relationship during the time we lived with her in the UK
- Statement from my father (an actual Form 888 Stat Dec) as evidence that we lived in his house during the early months of our relationship, before we shared a bank account or were on a lease.
- Flights that we took together during our travel (even though they weren’t paid for in a joint account… Remember to book seats next to each other!!)
- Accommodation receipts for the time that we travelled together
- Evidence of our shared hobby of Geocaching, including joint purchases we made to pursue it (we bought a GPS) and a record of all the geocaches we found
- Various photographs taken throughout the length of our relationship, captioned with dates and including family members from both sides
- Blogs that I wrote on Barefoot Beach Blonde about my relationship with Dean, dated and with links to the original
- Certificates and photographs from a cooking class we took in Thailand together
p.s. the social stuff doesn’t seem that much, but it was indicated to us that this was the important ‘little things’ that the Department of Immigration often looked at in determining the legitimacy of a relationship.
Australia Forum – Amazing place and great community for your questions and queries!
p.p.s. If you’re a government official reading this I’m not really angry at the government, paperwork just drives me crazy. You guys do a great job, please let my partner stay in this wonderful country 🙂