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Gathering Partner Visa Relationship Evidence

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

This section is possibly the most critical section for most applicants, and it is a section that most people tend to undervalue.


Evidence gathering is the key to a good application. It also supports the claims you are making in your relationship statement. Many start with the relationship statement. I like my clients to leave it to the end so that they can weave in references to the partner visa evidence that they provide.


It is also important to note that these applications can take a long time to decide and that one of the considerations the case officers will undertake is whether the relationship is genuine and continuing or not. So don’t stop gathering evidence after you lodge. And don’t worry because after you have lodged you will know what to gather and be better equipped to save those previously thought of as junk receipts and file them under you four factors file.


What the case officers are looking for is evidence:

  • That the relationship is genuine and continuing.

  • That the parties have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others and

  • That partners are living together (or at least not living apart permanently).

The reason to always consider what is known as the four factors is it will allow you to think about the evidence you might be able to get.


Here is a basic list of what partner visa evidence you need


  • Passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, social security card, and any other relevant national identity documents (colour scan)

  • Personal information for your parents, siblings, and children, including DOB and date of marriage if applicable.

  • Date you met your partner, date you began dating, date you “committed to each other to the exclusion of all others”, and date you became defacto/were married (This is not necessarily something you can just dig through your files and “find”, but it’s something you should sit down and think about before you start your application, as you’ll shape your evidence around these important dates later.

  • The travel dates of every country you have visited in the last 10 years (go digging through your passport and old travel itineraries, this one is likely to take a while!)

  • Every address you’ve ever lived at and every job you’ve ever held (this is actually for Form 80 and Form 1221 that you will attach to your application).





FACTOR 1 - FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF THE RELATIONSHIP


The factors that the case officers are going to look for include:
  • Joint loan agreements for real estate, cars, major household appliances or any other agreements relating to finances or purchases (for example, property purchased by the parties as tenants in common)

  • Operation of joint bank accounts - evidence that the accounts have been operated with reasonable frequency and for a reasonable period of time would be given more weight than just opening such accounts

  • Pooling of financial resources, especially in relation to major financial commitments Legally binding financial obligations that one party owes to the other, for example, as guarantor for a loan, existing power of attorney (these can be specified to cover various things, such as financial and medical)

  • The basis of sharing day to day household expenses, for example, whether each party is responsible financially for their own expenses only and expenses are not pooled.

Common Evidence

Below are some of the more common types of evidence we would normally receive:

  • Lease agreement with both names, communication from your real estate regarding a shared property. This has the added benefit of establishing cohabitation, another important requirement of this visa!

  • Utility bill to your shared address, which may not mention both names (many companies will only print a single name on the bill) but does establish expenses that are being paid by one or both of you for your shared home. This is further proof of residential address.

  • A statement from a joint bank account, showing both names and the date the account was opened or even a transaction history to prove regular use. This is also useful for establishing information about the “nature of the household”.

Other Forms of Evidence
  • Screenshots from your bank showing transfers to/from your partner with descriptions

  • Travel expenses for you and your partner paid for by one of you

  • Car in both names or named drivers on the car insurance

  • Proof of other shared assets

  • Receipt of major joint purchases

  • Statement showing payment for the weekly groceries O


FACTOR 2 - THE NATURE OF THE HOUSEHOLD


The factors that the case officers are going to look for include:
  • Joint ownership of residential property

  • Joint residential leases

  • Joint rental receipts

  • Joint utility accounts (electricity, gas, telephone) Addressed to either or both parties at the same address

  • Shared responsibility for the care and support of children

  • Shared responsibility for housework.

Common Evidence

Below are some of the more common types of evidence we would normally receive:

  • statement from either you or your partner describing how you share household responsibilities (e.g. cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, paying the bills, etc.).

  • Lease agreements for all shared properties you have lived at with your partner.

  • Mail addressed to both you and your partner throughout the time you’ve lived together.

  • Photos of your home, particularly your shared bedroom.

Other Forms of Evidence
  • Proof of shared responsibility for a pet or a child

  • Mobile phones on a shared plan

  • Correspondence from your real estate/strata sent to both of you

  • Statement from anyone who has lived with the two of you (I have spoken to people who lived with their partner’s family and obviously didn’t have a shared lease, so a statement from the family is important to include in these circumstances)

FACTOR 3 - SOCIAL ASPECTS OF THE RELATIONSHIP


The factors that the case officers are going to look for include:
  • Evidence that the relationship has been declared to other government bodies and commercial/public institutions or authorities and acceptance of these declarations by these bodies

  • Statements of parents, family members, relatives, friends, and other interested parties.

  • Statements in the form of statutory declarations should be encouraged on the basis that, as a legal document, they carry more weight. (Note: The Department provides a specific form for this purpose - see form 888.)

  • Joint membership of organisations or groups, documentary evidence of joint participation in sporting, cultural, social or other activities Joint travel and plans for the future Whether the parties present themselves as a couple socially.

An interesting instruction given to case officers is that the case officers should take into account whether the laws and/or traditions of the applicant's home country may discourage the parties from openly admitting the existence of the relationship.


We see this in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships stemming from country's laws to family beliefs over religion or culture. If your evidence is weak because of any of these limits then you should include a statement to explain what the issues are in your home country.


We have had situations where case officers have called parents to ask about their son's “boyfriend” only to completely destroy a family dynamic. The case officer, in general, WILL respect your privacy, but you need to notify them or they simply just don't know.


Common Evidence

Below are some of the more common types of evidence we would normally receive:

  • statement from either you or your partner describing the social aspects of your relationship (e.g. what you do together for fun, events you’ve attended, shared invitations to weddings and parties, joint travel, etc.)

  • Form 888 from your Australian friends and your partner’s Australian friends and family to show that you are actively involved in one another’s lives and that your relationship is widely known. You are only required to submit 2 of these, but I think the more, the merrier! For example, you can include your partner’s family, several of his/her friends, work colleagues, several friends, and some mutual friends who were actually there when you met.

  • Photos of you and your partner together, as well as together with friends, over the course of your relationship.

  • Joint travel tickets and photos (e.g. plane tickets, travel bookings with both names, travel photos).

  • Proof that you have made your relationship known to people (e.g. relationship status on Facebook, posts about each other on social media, relationship certificate, wedding photos)

Other Forms of Evidence
  • Invitations addressed to both you and your partner (e.g. party or wedding invites)

  • A gift to/from your partner

  • Communications between you and your partner’s family

  • Mutual Facebook friends Membership to clubs or groups in common

  • Anniversary or Valentine's Day cards. You can date these for the application.

FACTOR 4 - THE NATURE OF THE COMMITMENT

I always love this one! Fortunately, you don’t have to go to epic Romeo and Juliet type lengths to prove this factor. However, it is the hardest to prove. How do you prove something that you can’t physically hold? Lucky for you the department has decided what a constitutes a committed relationship and it does not involve any Shakespearean measures.


Case officers are instructed to consider the following:

  • The duration of the relationship

  • The length of time the parties have lived together

  • The degree of companionship and emotional support that the parties draw from each other

  • Whether the parties see the relationship as for the long term.

The nature (mutuality) of the relationship may be assessed having regard to, for example:

  • The partners' knowledge of each other's personal circumstances (this could include background and family situation and could be established at interview) and/or

  • Evidence of intentions that the relationship is long term (for example, by the extent to which the partners have combined their affairs, and the extent to which they have provided for each other, such as being beneficiary to each other's will and/or superannuation).


If parties who are (or until recently, were) living separately claim that their separation is (or was) not permanent, officers need to consider their reasons for the (temporary) separation

Case officers should regard the nature of the partner ' s commitment as requiring an assessment of the mutuality of their commitment to each other.

Common Evidence

Below are some of the more common types of evidence we would normally receive:

  • A statement from either you or your partner describing your commitment to one another (e.g. how you are involved with one another’s family, how you support one another emotionally through difficult times, how you have combined your lives, your future plans together, etc.). s

  • A Statutory Declaration/signed letter from any non-Australian friends or family who have been involved in your relationship. This can be your partners mum, dad, or step-parents, each can write a letter for your application, describing the times they’d traveled with you and your partner for instance or any other personal details they may want to include.

  • Photos with each other’s families, but if you don’t have a bunch of group photos already on hand, I’d suggest snapping a couple over the next month if you have dinner with your partner’s family or go to a sporting event together.

  • A screenshot of your partner listed as your emergency contact/you listed as your partner’s.

  • Evidence that you were in communication with one another during any periods of separation (e.g. message transcripts, emails, phone records) and/or that you visited one another while you were living apart (e.g. plane tickets to see each other)

Other Forms of Evidence
  • Proof that you have listed your partner as the beneficiary of your accounts or Superannuation, or that you have listed them in your Will

  • Wedding plans

  • Future travel plans

  • Joint savings for a house/other investment together

  • If you've ever had a meeting with a bank for a home loan or other financial adviser for future investment, you can ask them a letter to testify that you had a joint meeting as a couple

No two relationships are the same. There is no such thing as essential evidence with respect to the four factors.

I will repeat the last statement. There is absolutely, categorically, zero, never - (you get the point now right) - any requirement to provide a certain type of relationship evidence with respect to the four factors above. Relationship evidence is a SUGGESTION, not a rule. Do not be misled into thinking you must have a joint bank statement or a lease together. EVERY relationship is different and every relationship will have its own unique evidence.


Remember that the goal of the case officer is to assess whether you are in a relationship that is genuine and continuing, that both parties have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others and, both partners are living together (or at least not living apart permanently).

Airport clapper board


Witnesses


You will need to ask at least 2 witnesses who can attest to your relationship who will complete Form 888 (statutory declaration) for you. When you go online to lodge, you will also need to include personal information and contact details for at least 2 supporting witnesses including their full name, DOB, occupation, address, mobile, email. This can be a frustrating task for some people so be prepared to also ask for the personal details at the same time.


It can help to draft a nice email to “warm them up”


"Thank you for helping us so much with our future, I promise this won’t take too long, but this will change our lives. We need you to complete Form 888, which just asks for some general personal details from you and 3 main questions about how you know us, how often you see us, whether you believe our relationship is legit. You can also ask us for help if you’re unsure on specific dates or other information to include.

After you complete the form, you’ll have to take it (along with your physical passport and a colour scan of your passport photo page to be certified!) and sign it in front of an authorised witness. I can send you a list of people who can sign if you don’t know anyone.

As soon as it is finished we will pick it up from you or you can scan and email it back to us. Whichever is easiest."


ORGANISING YOUR EVIDENCE


Now that you have your evidence it is time to organise it. Needless to say, you need to have some rules around what you do or it will become a mess, and if it is hard for you to read your case officer is likely to experience the same problem.


Trust me, you will thank me for setting you this task later.

I strongly recommend merging documents into “groups” based on the 4 factors. For this we use Smallpdf.com products that also include merge pdf. They use to have a private use license and it is great for joining multiple PDFs together.


Don’t forget you can highlight particular areas you want the case officer to read, and I strongly recommend this and also redact (blackout) anything you don’t want to be seen (your naughty online purchases or credit card numbers for example).


Once you have combined the PDF’s into groups check the file size. You are limited to 5mb. But be aware, sometimes on your PC when it says 5mb it is rounded down and may be over. You may need to use Smallpdf to shrink them. Beware though, shrinking them can cause the quality to diminish so you need to find a balance.


Finally, give them useful names so when you are attaching them you know what they are. File name like "FORM 80" or "Financial Evidence" are much better than “doc 1”, “doc 2”


Still unsure. That's what we are here for.


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