Partner visa versus Prospective Marriage (fiancé) visa

Clients often ask what the best partner visa to apply for is, and the only starting point can be the background of the parties and the relationship circumstances.

Human beings are eternally optimistic and when dealing in matters of the heart often rationality and logic are the first casualties.  All sponsored partner visas -to a greater or lesser degree – depend on and require an existing relationship. Even finance visas – which were initially introduced to combat arranged marriages from certain countries- require the proof of a relationship between the parties. DIAC wants to see evidence to prove a relationship and the quality of evidence is often the biggest issue with all these visas.

Where parties are unable to establish a strong ‘genuine and continuing relationship’ largely due to their inability to  establish a reasonable period of personal knowledge or cohabitation – which is relevant even for married partner visas – then the Sub-class 300 fiancé visa should be considered. The fiancé visa is perfect for situations where either the financial, cultural or practical circumstances of one or both of the parties do not allow them to meet the required relationship status. The parties however must be prepared and able to marry.

3 step visa process

  • The fiancé visa is a 3 step visa category unlike the 2 step de facto or married partner visas. This category requires 3 visa applications where the initial visa procedure grants a 9 month visa within which to marry the sponsor. This allows the fiancé to travel to Australia to marry the sponsor or to marry overseas.
  •  After the parties marry either in Australia -as is usually the case- or overseas, then they must apply for the next stage –after meeting the required criteria- which if in Australia will be the Sub-class 820/801 or if overseas will be the Sub-class 309/100.

Even though the fiancé visa is a 3 step procedure, applicants do not pay more, rather the government visa fees referred to as the VAC (Visa Application Charge) are split between paying the off-shore fee initially (lower) and then paying the balance to the same value as an on-shore VAC, when the on-shore application is made.

  •  The permanent stage, generally 2 years after lodgement of the application is included in this payment, so at that stage no further VAC is paid. There may be a professional fee if migration advice or services are required.

So what’s best?

 If married or in an unmarried relationship

If you have been married and can establish ‘a genuine and continuing relationship’ – apart from the formal legal marriage, then the married partner is the appropriate visa if you are inside or outside Australia. If you have been living with your partner and can show either a 12 month relationship or you can register your relationship in your state of residence in Australia, then the de facto visa is the appropriate visa (see recent Family blog item). If you and your partner are overseas then you must meet the 12 month relationship rule.

If you can’t meet relationship criteria

If you are not married and can’t show a sufficient record of living together or knowledge due to yours or your partner’s circumstances, then the Sub-class 300 fiancé visa should be considered because the minimum test is personal knowledge. More substantial evidence if possible is however recommended! Having said this, the fiancé visa recognises the inability of certain individuals to meet usual relationship requirements. The fiancé visa does require that the parties marry.

 Proof of relationship

Meeting the sufficient subjective and objective proof of relationship for these different partner visas can be difficult at times so if you are not confident in this task then by all means feel free to contact us to discuss your circumstances.