I nearly gagged on my bacon and eggs on Saturday morning. Out of the blue an email popped into my inbox from the Department Of Immigration stating there was an update to my visa application. We’d had not a single call or email about our application so fearing the worst I opened the attachment and prayed it wasn’t a retraction of the Bridging Visa I’d just been granted that allows me to travel to Thailand for our wedding. This attachment was different than usual though. It was far longer then the usual paperwork and it stated Justin’s name at the top as my ‘sponsor’. I flicked through the introductory pages until I got to the visa grant page. A single tear of relied trickled down my cheek. This was it! My (temporary) partner visa 820 has been granted.
We applied for this visa on 12th April 2015 so it’s taken just 11 months to get approval – far shorter than the 12 to 18 months estimated when we applied. I was also expecting some phone calls asking for clarification or verification of some of the paperwork we sent but – bam! – there’s the visa in my inbox totally unexpected on a Saturday morning.
I have been busy fulfilling the final requirements over the last few weeks though. On 18th February 2016 I received notification that my application was ready to be processed but it was estimated I’d be approved by the 30th June – so we were approved much faster than even the department expected. For anyone going through the process here’s some tips on what we did to get this over the line:
Complete the Form 80
As I mentioned here I had a mini-meltdown when I received an email just before flying to Bali stating that this form was required. It’s a character assessment form which doesn’t (or didn’t when I read it) appear on the initial partner visa application but is required for final processing. I recommend you get a head start on this one as it requires a lot of personal details such as where you’ve lived and worked since birth and where you’ve travelled for the last 10 years (with no gaps).
With regards to travel, as my list is a little long I compiled a separate excel spreadsheet and uploaded it as an attachment. I used the format as below:
I left my medical a little late as I didn’t notice there was a referral letter already in my online application page. (It’s listed under the visa status section in your Immi account.) As I’m in Australia I went to the BUPA visa medical services centre in Sydney CBD and I have to say it was a very efficient process.
I recommend you wear trousers as you’ll be given a gown to wear on your top half. Also wear decent-ish underwear as you’ll be required to strip down to it for one of the assessments. You’ll need to do a urine sample so don’t pee beforehand, you also have to reschedule if you are on your period (I don’t know why). You can book your appointment online here although I found appointments only came up for the week ahead. The whole process takes approx 2 hours from start to finish.
When I first put in my partner visa application I hadn’t lived in Australia for more than 12 months. As I have now I needed to put in an Australian Federal Police Check before final approval. You can do that here.
The Total Cost Of The Partner Visa
Although this is only part 1 of the Partner Visa process (we’ll be assessed again in a year to make sure we are still in a genuine relationship) this should hopefully be the end of fees for us. (Your initial application fee covers the temporary 820 and permanent 801 partner visa fee.)
Here’s a tally of what we paid in total:
Partner Visa Application Fee: $6865
Credit Card Fee: $75
Bridging Visa B Fees: $140 x 3 = $420
UK Police Check: £45/$85
Australian Federal Police Check: $42
Medical Assessment: $342.29
Passport photos: $20
Grand total: $7849.29
There’s a few miscellaneous costs I haven’t included relating to printing, postage and getting documents verified but all in you’re looking at a figure of around $7850 (if applying within Australia – it’s slightly less if you apply outside Australia but you must remain outside the country until a decision is made). It may also be less if you don’t apply for the Bridging Visas that enable travel or substantially more if you hire a lawyer.
Right now I’m dreaming up all the destinations I can visit now I have unrestricted travel rights! FREEEEEDOM!
Justin and I get married in just over 3 weeks time and it’s absolutely wonderful not to have any paperwork or potential calls from the department hanging over us. To be honest I grossly underestimated the strain this process would put on our relationship, finances, my travel movements and our future plans as a couple. It’s an incredible feeling to have some certainty about our future and I’m feeling positive now that our future will have less tears and meltdowns from me! (I’m usually a very positive and calm person – this process has not been a good look for me at all!)
As mentioned we’ll be assessed again in a year’s time so now I know the type of things the department require I’ll be saving any paperwork, images, bills etc that prove we are in a committed relationship. I’m also updating that excel spreadsheet each time I travel so I don’t have the nightmare of trying to recall details in a year’s time from now.
Thanks to everyone who gave us support, advice and statutory declarations. If you’d like to know more about this process you can find my tips on applying for an Australia Partner Visa here – make sure you read the comments from other readers as there are lots of useful tips in them too!