The Australian Fiancé visa

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The Australian Fiancé visa is a highly specific visa which requires a considerable number of legal criteria to be met. For example, the visa must be applied for outside of Australia. The visa Applicant must also be outside of Australia when the application is submitted and granted. The Fiancé visa is valid for 9 months during which time the holder of this visa must enter Australia and marry their fiancé.

The Australian Fiancé visa is a great visa which will allow the Applicant to enter and leave Australia as many times as they wish within the visa validity period. The holder of an Australian Fiancé visa is allowed to work unlimited hours and study. After you marry your Fiancé you can then proceed to apply for a Partner visa.

A Fiancé visa will be granted or rejected based upon the specific circumstances of the Applicant and their fiancé. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is concerned with many factors, including the genuineness of the relationship, the character and health of the Applicant, as well as the financial capabilities of both the Applicant and Sponsor. DIAC will make enquiries based upon these and other issues. Unless strict guidelines are followed and all enquiries are satisfied it is highly likely that a visa application will be rejected. A significant amount of supporting documentation is required. If even one supporting document is missing significant delays can be experienced, to say the least.

At Australian Visa Advice, our training and experience will take the stress and confusion out of what can be a complex procedure. We often take on clients who have had their visa applications rejected because they have either tried to obtain the visa themselves or used unqualified and inexperienced Migration Agents. They have wasted precious time and money.

I am Thai and I want to visit my Australian boyfriend in Australia – does my boyfriend have to provide an invitation for my visit?

If you are from Thailand (or from any other country) and you want to visit Australia you will have to submit an application for a visa. All foreign nationals are required to have a visa to enter Australia, even for a short visit. Citizens from Thailand are considered to be ‘high risk’ which means that there is a concern that if a visa is granted the holder of the visa might want to stay on in Australia longer than is allowed or may breach one or more of the other conditions attached to their visa. It is up to the ‘applicant’ for the visa to persuade the Australian Government that they do not present such a risk. As a Thai citizen you will have to fill in and submit an application form as well as other documents to support your application.

Your supporting documentation will usually include identity documents as well as financial documents which show that you have funds available to support your visit to Australia. If you have a bank account you might want to show your bankbook; if you have a job you might want to show evidence of that such as a letter from your work or a pay slip. If you own land or a house you might want to show evidence of that. Each application is different and you need to structure your application to show the Australian Embassy that you are a person of means and are low risk.

If you have an Australian friend or boyfriend he may be able to assist you application. By writing a letter of invitation he can not only make an offer to invite you but he may also be able to show that he can support your visit in some way. If he works or has funds available he can offer to financially support your visit. He can attach documents to your application such as a bank statement or a pay slip. How much money you or he might want to show depends on the length of your proposed stay and what activities you will be doing, etc.

Your boyfriend does not have to write a letter of invitation for your visit – you may be able to apply for an Australian Tourist visa all on your own. As mentioned above, it will depend on your personal circumstances. Because applying for a Tourist visa is so complicated we do advise citizens of the Thailand to speak with a visa expert – it can make the difference between success and failure.

Thai nationals: do they get unfairly treated when it comes to applying for an Australian Tourist visa?

Thousands of Thai nationals apply for an Australian Tourist visa every year. Unfortunately a large percentage of the applications are refused. There are a number of reasons for this. Thailand is classified as a ‘high risk’ country by the Australian government department that deals with visas – called the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). A Thai applicant for a Tourist visa is required to submit a paper application which involves filling in forms, attaching supporting documentation and undergoing a number of checks. The result of this demanding and in depth procedure is that many Thai applicants end up failing to satisfy some of the requirements. On the other hand, citizens of many other countries such as the USA, the UK, Ireland, France, Japan and South Korea are not required to undertake such a rigorous procedure to obtain an Australian Tourist visa. They only need to provide the most basic of personal information and can even submit an application online. Why is this? Is this unfair treatment of Thai citizens?

DIAC justifies its different policies for different countries on the basis of a number of criteria including Australia’s relationships with certain countries and regions, the economic, social and political situation in countries and the past visa history of Australian visa holders. For example, one of the reasons that mainland China is classified as ‘high risk’ for an Australian Tourist visa because many prior Tourist visa holders have overstayed their visa or breached other conditions such as by working (working is prohibited on a Tourist visa).

There are also many other reasons why so many applications are refused. Applying for even an Australian Tourist visa is a relatively complicated undertaking and many applicants submit very poor applications with insufficient supporting documentation. Even if the Thai applicant would have qualified for the Tourist visa, if they do not show evidence to evidence every aspect of their application they will probably be refused the visa.

Some applications are refused because of financial reasons. The economic situation and standard of living in Thailand, even though it is quite high for Asia, is generally lower than that of Australia and DIAC has concerns about whether an applicant has enough funds to support their visit, whether they are genuine tourist and whether they have any incentives to return to Thailand. One thing that can help is when as a Thai citizen you know an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Many Thai citizens have an Australian friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, wife, husband or partner. If this is the case your Australian partner should be able to sponsor you and offer to shoulder some or all of the burden of the financial requirements.

Do we have a recognised marriage and if so what proof of our marriage is required for a Partner visa?

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident and you have met and married a foreign national, whether she/he be Thai, Filipino/a or other, you will have probably given a lot of thought to where you both will live and about issues such as: can I bring my wife/husband to Australia for a holiday or to live with me and if so how do I arrange this; will she/he be able to work in Australia,… These are normal questions to ask. If you both qualify, you will probably end up acting as the Sponsor for your wife or husband’s Australian Partner (by marriage) visa application. In this article I will be discussing only one aspect of the Partner (by marriage visa) – the issue of a recognised marriage and proof of that marriage.

In terms of getting married it might seem to be non issue – we got married – therefore we qualify – end of story. However, it is not necessarily as simple as that. Your marriage has to be one which is recognised as such by the Migration Act and Regulations. The rules say that your marriage has to be one which is recognised under Australian law. You and your partner were either married in Australia or in another country. As long as the marriage is registered as an official legal marriage in Australia or any other country then that is acceptable for the purpose of the Partner (by marriage) visa application.

There are exceptions to this. For example, where you and your wife or husband have been married overseas and the law of that country recognises marriages which are  same sex, polygamous or underage: currently in Australia same sex marriages are not recognised and neither are situations where someone is married to more than one person. Furthermore there is a minimum age under Australian law by which a person may enter into a legal marriage with another person. Some other countries have different minimum age limits which would not be recognised in Australia.

The proof of marriage which is required under the Migration Regulations is usually a document evidencing the marriage. In most countries the government department that deals with and registers marriages will issue a certificate of marriage. The Applicant for Partner visa (by marriage) should submit a certified copy of their marriage certificate. If the Applicant was previously married to someone before their current marriage, which is the basis of their application, they will be required to submit certified copies of their previous marriage(s) and of their divorce, dissolution or annulment.

What ‘exactly’ is a Fiancé Visa

An Australian Fiancé visa is a visa which, as it suggests, is for those couples that are engaged to be married. The Thai or Filipina (or other nationality) fiancé of an Australian citizen or permanent resident can look to apply for a Fiancé visa. The ‘Applicant’ needs to meet a number of criteria which relate to her health, character, financial position, work and relationship history. The Australian ‘Sponsor’ can assist his fiancé with the financial requirements.

Fiancé visas can only be applied for outside of Australia. Both you and your fiancé will need to fill in application and other forms and collect a substantial amount of supporting documentation. There are strict rules about the format of the documentation to be submitted.

Dependent children and dependent adults of the ‘Applicant’ can be included in the Fiancé visa application. Obviously, custody arrangements for any children need to be dealt with beforehand. Where a child has dual custody any non migrating parent must sign off on the child’s migration.

The processing time for an Australian Fiancé visa varies from Embassy to Embassy and can take anywhere from 3-12 months or more. The speed of processing depends on whether you are deemed to be from a high or low risk country, (Thailand and Philippines are considered to be high risk) seasonal variation in the case load numbers, and other factors. Well prepared applications are always processed more quickly than poorly prepared applications – the lack of even 1 document can lead to a delay of many months!

Once the visa is granted your fiancé can travel to Australia and marry you. Your fiancé can work once she enters Australia on her Fiancé visa and travel to and from Australia without restriction. You and your fiancé must marry within 9 months of the grant of the Fiancé visa. Once married your spouse can apply for the Partner visa which will lead to permanent residency – it will be the last visa she ever needs.

Getting engaged to your fiancé does not guarantee her a Fiancé visa. We recommended that you speak to  skilled and experienced Migration Agent to advise you whether or not you qualify for the Fiancé and to assist you with the preparation. The visa application fee is about $2000 Australian dollars and is non-refundable should your application be refused. So you want to get it right the first time!

Making Your Australian Visa Application

How do you make your Australian visa application? Well, the first thing to do is to carefully consider what you want to do in Australia and how long you want to stay for. There are literally 100’s of different types of visas designed for people with all sorts of different needs, work, study and family backgrounds and means.

Once you have decided what you want you should then choose the visa which best suits you. You can either do this yourself or consult a skilled Migration Agent. Many Migration Agents offer a free consultation to assist you to be able to make the right choice. It is also very important to try to determine the likelihood of success and whether the time is right to apply for the visa now or in the future possibly once you have satisfied some criterion. Visa application fees can be substantial and they are non-refundable so you want to make sure that your application has the best chance of success.

Once you have made a decision on a visa and are confident that you can put in a strong application you can start to download and fill in the application form(s). There is usually visa application information available to assist you to work out what documents you need to add. Please be careful also as the requirements often differ depending on which Australian Embassy, Consulate or Mission you apply at.

Depending on the visa you apply for, some documents need to be originals, some need to be certified copies and some can simply be copies. Most Australian visa applications will have a number of components – they look at your character, including any prior criminal history, your medical history and any likely need of medical attention in Australia, and your ability to be able to support yourself financially. Many visas allow for an Australian citizen or permanent resident who is a family member, friend, work or other acquaintance to support your application in some way.

Finally, once your application is ready to be submitted, double check to see that you have everything required and find out what the approximate processing time is so you can plan ahead. Some visas take 3 days to process and some take more than one year! Often where the application is submitted has an effect on the processing time. For example, for Partner (Marriage) visas they are often processed more quickly if applied for in Australia than if applied for offshore (especially in high risk countries).

Australian Immigration Rules and Regulations

Australian migration law is amongst the most complex of all Australian law. There are literally hundreds of types of visas available to people who want to visit, work, study or live in Australia. The details of the criteria for these visas are to be found in the hundreds pages of regulations and other official documents. Australian migration law provides for the different subclasses of visas and the criteria applicable to each visa. It also provides for payment of visa applications, appeals from refusals, cancellations of visas, Ministerial intervention, obligations, evidencing, and much, much more.

When you are thinking about applying for a visa you need to look at a number of different areas within the migration law. You will need to determine whether there is a visa available to suit your situation, whether you meet the applicable criteria and how you have to go about applying for the visa. You may want to look at whether there is a right of appeal should your visa application be refused. Some visa applications are relatively expensive and time consuming processes to undertake so you should be fully aware of what you getting into.

Australian migration law is a type of Commonwealth law, as opposed to a State or local law. This means that it applies throughout the whole country and not merely to some parts of it.

The law changes constantly and is not rigid. Prices for visas go up usually about 2 times each year and the criteria for each visa can change. Even the forms change.

There is also a considerable body of material that is used internally by the staff at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) which relates to the procedure and processing of visas and this provides guidelines to be used when determining whether or not to grant a visa.

Because of the complexity of Australian migration law a special group of legal professionals have emerged to deal specifically with this area. Migration agents are supposed to be trained in Australian migration law and practice. Some migration agents are highly trained professionals who have all been Solicitors and/or Barristers previously and who know the law and how to work within it and around it. There are others who have done a course in Australian migration law which can qualify them to be a migration gent. Unfortunately, there are other people who have no training in Australian migration law who call themselves migration agents. These people are often not Australian or have never even been to Australia but charge money to give advice on Australian visas. It is these people that you should definitely try to avoid.

What to do if Your Thai Girlfriend Was Refused an Australian Tourist Visa

What can you do if your Thai girlfriend has applied for an Australian Tourist visa and been refused? I am often contacted by Australian men whose Thai girlfriends are in this situation. They have usually tried to have a go at obtaining a Tourist visa either by themselves, with the help or a “friend” or a “friend of a friend” or some disreputable migration agent. It is not surprising that so many Australian Tourist visa applications are refused. Contrary to popular opinion, Tourist visas are not easy to obtain. The Australian Government is very strict about who they allow to enter Australia for any reason. In the past many foreign nationals have entered Australia on a Tourist visa and have either worked illegally or overstayed their visa. It is easy to understand – Australia has a very strong economy at the moment and there are many jobs available. As a result, however, Australia classifies many countries as high risk. Thailand is simply one of many countries in the same position. Applicants are required to submit a paper application and supporting documentation. The Australian Embassy looks closely at every application and if all of their concerns are not satisfied they will often refuse the application. No appeal of the decision is allowed.

If your Thai girlfriend’s Australian Tourist visa was refused the first thing you can do is to look at the reasons for refusal. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is required by law to provide reasons. Sometimes it is clear why an application has been refused and this is clearly stated. However, more often than not there is more than one reason and DIAC does not necessarily go into much detail. They use broad encompassing terms like “I (the decision maker) am not satisfied that the Applicant’s expressed intention to only visit Australia is genuine”. It often requires a skilled and experienced Migration Agent to look closely at the reasons for refusal as well as the refused application itself to determine what was missing or what particular criterion/criteria was/were not satisfied.

If the reason or reasons for the refusal can be addressed then you can put in another application. Of course, even if you are not entirely clear as to why your Thai girlfriend’s application was refused there is nothing stopping her from putting in another application. Theoretically, one can put in as many applications as one wants to and each application will be assessed on its own merits. However DIAC (and I) would strongly advise that unless you can address the reasons for the last refusal there is not much point submitting a fresh Tourist visa application. At Australian Visa Advice, we always offer a free consultation so you can make an informed decision on your girlfriend’s behalf as to whether you want to proceed with a new Tourist visa application or not. Even after that assessment, whether or not you choose to use our services will still be up to you.

My Thai girlfriend moving to Australia

If you are an Australian man who has met and entered into a relationship with a Thai woman, you may one day think about the idea of her coming to live with you in Australia. She may have already been to Australia to visit you and to test the waters – see how you two function as a couple in Australia. We always recommend that you do this first, as spending time in Thailand and spending time in Australia are two different things.

If everything has gone well and you want to take the next step you will probably want to consult an Australian migration expert to work out what option is best for you and your Thai girlfriend. Forward planning is very important because migration is usually a very complicated and lengthy process. If you and your Thai girlfriend make the decision that you want her to migrate to Australia you want to make sure you get it right the first time. Otherwise, poorly prepared applications can be delayed or refused.

Once you and your Thai girlfriend decide that she should move to Australia to be with you, your Migration Agent can look at your specific situation and advise on the best course of action. Choosing the best option to suit your situation is very important. There are a number of temporary (leading to permanent) visa options for couples, provided you and your Thai girlfriend meet the criteria. Applications are looked at in a holistic way so you and your girlfriend usually do not have to tick every box in order to be eligible. Having your girlfriend migrate to Australia to live with you permanently is not an impossible dream – it is something that can happen – your dreams can come true – provided you plan correctly.

Obviously, migrating to Australia is a serious endeavor and there are a lot of forms to fill out, supporting documentation to provide and checks to be made. When the girlfriend of an Australian man plans to apply for a “Fiancé” visa, for example, both the “Applicant” and the “Sponsor” are required to provide detailed personal information, as well as information about their families. The Applicant will also need to undergo health checks, criminal checks etc.

If your girlfriend has dependent children from a previous relationship she will be able to include them in her application provided she either has full custody or has the permission of the father. These and other issues mentioned above must be looked at carefully when you and your Thai girlfriend are making plans for her to move to Australia.

Why Should You Use A Migration Agent?

There are many reasons why you might want to consider using a Migration Agent.

Every person that enters Australia must have a valid visa. Citizens from Thailand, the Philippines and many other countries are considered to be high risk for entry into Australia. Even if, for example, a Thai citizen wants to visit Australia for a short holiday, purely for tourism purposes, he or she is required to submit a paper application and a considerable amount of supporting documentation. Even if the ‘applicant’ complies with these procedural requirements it provides no guarantee of obtaining a visa.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) looks carefully at every application and is concerned with issues such as the financial viability of the applicant, their character, medical condition and visa history. They are make an assessment as to whether the applicant is likely to be genuine tourist or whether they may have other motives for entering Australia (such as to work). They also look at whether the person is likely to overstay their visa. It is a complex procedure – and most other Australian visas are even more difficult to apply for and obtain than a Tourist visa!

A skilled and experienced Migration Agent can not only advise you about which of the 100’s of visa options might be best for you, but they can guide you through the complexities of the legal procedural requirements, structure the application in the right way and can even assist you with the forms and supporting documentation.

There is nothing to stop someone from preparing and submitting an application on their own. Unfortunately however, a high percentage of self-prepared applications are refused. There is no appeal for a refusal of an Australian Tourist visa and the visa application fee for any Australian visa is non-refundable. Many people sooner or later come around to the idea that using a skilled and experienced Migration Agent can not only save time and effort but, in an overall sense, it can be very cost effective.