Moving to Australia – Visa Process

It has been a while since we have written anything up but that is mainly because we have been moving to Australia from London. Michelle is Australian but that still means there was a visa process to go through. I am going to use this post to go over some tips and advice that might be useful for the Visa application process to help anyone else who might come across this.
I will follow up in the next few days with some other posts with how we have been getting on and what we have been getting up to.

Which Visa?

The whole process started in around February 2017, we’d already decided that we want to make the move to Australia and had started looking in to the different Visa options. Even though Michelle and I are married a visa is still required; being married doesn’t automatically allow you to move to the country that your spouse in from – in the case of UK and Australia. Michelle was already on a UK Spouse visa so we had an idea of this process.
There are was another visa option which was a skilled worker visa, with my job i could have gone down this route, it could have been a bit cheaper but would have involved doing tests and getting approved by independent bodies.
In the end we decided that the spouse visa was the best option, this was fortunate as Australia did go and update their skilled worker visa system later in the year which would have probably caused problems for us.

Visa Application

The process is fairly simple and all based online now. You start by creating an account with the Australian immigration department, this stores all visa applications including the forms and uploaded documents.
Initially there are a number of pages of web forms to fill in with various personal details, at the end of any page it is possible to save the current progress and download a PDF of the paper form as completed so far.
The form then goes on to request various other details for yourself and your partner including:

  • Identification Documents Numbers:
    • Passport
    • Driving Licence
    • Birth Certificate
    • Marriage Certificate
  • Contact Details
    • At home and in Australia – I used Michelle’s Parents for this
  • Family Members
    • Parents & Siblings (inc. of spouse, with DoBs)
  • Relationship Details:
    • How / When met
    • When starting ‘going out’
    • Marriage Details including celebrant details
    • Any details of time spent apart
    • Financial Aspects of Relationship *
    • Nature of Household *
    • Social Aspects *
    • Nature of Commitment to each other *
    • Development of Relationship *
  • At least 2 witnesses to the relationship
    • We used parents, siblings and friends
  • Any previous relationships
  • Countries visited in the last 10 years
    • Luckily i had used Google Calendar for last 11 years so had this, being in Europe this can be very hard but i assume you just have to include as many details as you can
  • Finally a number of Yes/No declarations about any convictions, history and expected behaviour and a warning that Australia is an expensive country to move to.

* These items have a character limit but you can reference other statements, documents and pictures within these. We each wrote personal statements, had friends and relatives write statements and included references to join bank details / bills etc. as well. For social aspects we included photos of events attended with each others friends and families.

Whilst completing the form any supporting documents can be uploaded to an electronic file, this is categorised and does have a limit of the total number of documents. I would highly suggest getting all the documents needed ready on the PC first making sure all are named correctly according to any references used elsewhere. When adding pictures of documents which have more than one page/side combine these in a PDF rather than individual JPEG files.
There was a problem with some PDF files being rejected due to a security issue, i converted the PDFs to a lower version using SmallPDF using the unlock tool. There were also other tools on this website for combining and updating PDFs.
There are lots of categories for uploading files so sometimes it was hard to find the correct one but there is a place for most things. As there are a number of required documents which overlap we did end up uploading the same documents a number of times in different categories but still didn’t hit the document limit.

Your spouse also needs to create an online account and fill out a similar form, this requires similar details and also has a small E-File to upload any supporting documents to confirm ID.

Sending the Application

Once all the forms for both you and your spouse are completed and documents uploaded you can submit the application – along with the payment – which is not cheap.

A case officer is then assigned to your application after the application has been reviewed, you will then be asked for police checks, medical checks and any further forms. You can completed the medical and police checks before submitting BUT these are only valid for one year and they cost, there is a risk of them expiring or your application being refused.
A police check is required for each applicant for any country they have lived in for more than a few years in the last 10. There is a list of police authorities and where to apply provided by the immigration office.
The medical check has to be done at a number of registered private clinics luckily for me there was one in London, this would be more difficult if you are from elsewhere in the country. It was quite easy to get an appointment, they take some X-Rays, blood & urine samples and give a poke and prod to make sure you are fit and healthy. Once this check is done you must enter the country within one year.
The police certificate have to be uploaded as additional documents, the medial check is automatically electronically sent to the immigration department. We also had to fill in Form 80 which provides further details of contacts in Australia, including friends and relatives, job history and all countries visited again. This overlapped with the original application but there were one or two extra details but was was fairly easy to complete.

Once all these extra details are complete the application can then be submitted again.

Waiting Game

The immigration website does list the expected completion times from the original application but these can vary a lot from a few months to a year or so. Once the medical and police checks have been done the application shouldn’t take too long though. After about 3 months from the original application I got an email confirming that the application has been successful and i had been issued a temporary partner visa which would be reviewed after 5 years. About 2 minutes later i got another email stating that a full partner visa had been issued that means i can stay in Australia for as long as i want.
The only stipulation is that you enter Australia within a year of the medical check.

So there it is, the process isn’t too bad, you just need to take some time to get all the documentation and details together and organised. You can check most of the requirements on the Australian immigration website and it doesn’t cost anything to start the online application to review the requirements.

Any questions about the application process please drop a comment on this post.

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