It’s happening again. I’m crying at the keyboard and Justin is trying to comfort me. I cruelly shrug his support off and head out to the balcony to take deep breaths.
I’m in the final stages of applying for a Permanent Partner Visa (subclass 801) so that I can legally reside in Australia with my husband. Technically this bit should be easy. We’ve already passed the first part of the application (subclass 820) – a painful process that took 3 months to complete and involved medical checks, statutory declarations from friends and family, and listing everywhere I’ve lived and worked since coming out of the womb. Being approved for the first part gave me temporary residency in Australia but now, 2 years down the line, we need to prove that we are still in a committed relationship, sharing finances, housework, social lives etc etc etc since they last checked up on us in order for me to be granted permanent residency.
I had high hopes that this time I wouldn’t let it get on top of me. I knew what I was in for second time around and had saved invitations, bills and statements addressed to both of us in preparation for the application. I didn’t (as was my intention) keep a log of everywhere I travelled in a handy Excel sheet but I at least kept my paper diaries which had all the flights written out neatly.
So I was feeling cool. I set aside one sunny Saturday to nail this application and tried not to begrudge it. I had printed out all my old paperwork to help answer the same questions we answered last time and I patiently logged into the system each of the 15 countries I’ve been to since being approved for the temporary visa. But guess what.
I reached page 14 of 21 and giddily started thinking I might knock the bulk of this off in one day. But when I’d being pressing ‘next’ at the bottom of each page the system hadn’t automatically been saving everything I’d input. I think that as I had spent so long on the travel page it just sort of timed out.
Everything I’d input – including my statutory declarations about our relationship which I’d painstakingly backed up with matching documentation – was gone.
I was back to square 1.
Hence the tears.
I carried on working into the night while some of the answers were still fresh. It was very tempting to answer questions like ‘How has your relationship developed since your last application?’ with ‘We got married. End of story.’ Sadly that doesn’t fly with the Department Of Immigration.
(To clarify: a lot of people have asked me whether the fact we’re married means I get to skip a few steps but sadly not. The process is the same whether you’re married or de facto. We can submit a certified copy of our marriage certificate as evidence though and I will send them a few pics to show it happened.)
Second time around I hit save like a mad woman every 5 seconds and thankfully this time the answers stick.
Now my police check has just come back and our friends (the best men at the wedding!) are kindly filling out statutory declarations about the legitimacy of our relationship. I’ve got a million docs to scan and upload, which I know will be a separate form of torture as the system is picky about file sizes, but I’m getting there. At least there is nothing to pay for this bit. The almost $8000 (not a typo!) we paid for the temporary visa application covers the permanent visa application too. I just had to pay for a new police check this time around.
The things we do for love hey?
For anyone else going through this testing process here’s a handy PDF from the Department of Immigration about what is required for this part of the process. I was sent these guidelines when I got the heads up that my Permanent Partner Visa Application would soon to be due for submission. They do give you a fair bit of warning to get all your ducks in a row – I received the email on Feb 27th saying I will be eligible to apply on April 12th (i.e. 2 years after the date of my very first application).
I’ve read that assessment of these applications is currently taking 12 to 18 months so it will be a while until we have an answer. Guess I best get back to filling out forms and let the Department of Immigration decide our future.
All the best to readers who are also applying for Australian Partner Visas. Remember to hit save on that online application 😉
>> Please note: These are just some thoughts based on my personal experience. I am not a migration expert and this does not constitute legal advice. Please contact the Department of Immigration or an immigration lawyer directly for questions relating to your personal circumstances. Unfortunately I unable to answer any messages regarding your applications – you’ll find everything I know here already. <<