PARTNER MIGRATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The following are common questions received in Washington regarding some of the requirements associated with the lodgement of a partner migration application. If you are unable to find an answer to your question, please contact the Americas Service Centre for assistance.
Please also refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for general information on the Partner Migration Program.
SPONSORS AND APPLICANTS
Do I include my children in the application?
• If your children are already registered as Australian citizens, they do not
require visas. As such, while you will mention them in your application as
members of your family, they are not applicants with you for a Partner visa. They do not require medicals and they do not need to provide police clearances. They MUST enter Australia on Australian passports.
• If your children were born outside of Australia, and if one parent was an Australian citizen at the time of their birth, they may be eligible for registration as Australian citizens by descent. If registered as citizens, they would then fall into the above category.
• If your sponsoring partner was not an Australian citizen, but was an Australian
permanent resident at the time of your children’s birth outside of Australia, then
you must include any dependent child intending to migrate with you in your Partner application. If included as an applicant for a Partner visa, the child will need to undergo medicals and, if 16 years of age or older, will need to provide a police clearance.
Does my sponsor need to undergo health and character clearances?
• If your sponsor is an Australian citizen, or an Australian permanent resident (who has met health and character clearances when he or she obtained a permanent resident visa), then he or she will generally not need to undertake health or character clearances. However, if you have included a dependent child under the age of 18 on your application and this child is migrating with you, your sponsor will need to police certificates from each country in which s/he has spent a total of 12 months or more in the last 10 years since turning 16 years of age (this includes Australia). Please refer to Stronger Measures for the Protection of Children.
• An eligible New Zealand sponsor is required to undertake health and character clearances as part of the processing of the Partner application.
Can a New Zealand citizen partner sponsor?
• Only a New Zealand citizen who meets the definition of ‘eligible New Zealand
citizen’ may sponsor a Partner for Partner Migration. Please refer to page 3 entitled "Important Terms" on the Partner Migration Booklet for details. This definition is very precise and it is important that you explore your partner’s eligibility to sponsor before you apply as your application will be refused if the sponsorship criterion is not satisfied
How do I obtain a Notice of Intended Marriage?
If you are applying for a Prospective Spouse Visa, you will need to demonstrate that you have lodged a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) - either by submitting a signed letter from the marriage celebrant confirming that the NOIM has been lodged, along with confirmed marriage date and location OR by providing a copy of the NOIM signed by both you and your sponsor.
• For information about the health requirements for prospective Washington applicants, please refer to Panel Doctors in the United States of America.
Do I need to prove my identity to the doctor?
Yes. Each visa applicant undertaking a medical or radiological examination must present a passport for identity verification. This is the only acceptable identity document.
Who needs to do the medicals?
All applicants must meet the health requirement and undertake medicals. Each visa applicant aged 11 years and older will require a medical examination and chest x-ray.
Each applicant aged 15 years and older will require a HIV test. Further medical tests or reports may be requested by the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth where these are necessary to determine ability to meet the health requirement.
What about non-migrating children?
If the visa applicant has non-migrating children who are under 18 years of age, or over 18 years of age if still dependent on you, including from a previous relationship they will be required to undertake medical clearances. Your case officer will let you know.
Will pregnancy affect my application?
A pregnant applicant may choose not to be x-rayed until after the birth. This may delay finalisation of the application. Your case officer will liaise with you in this regard.
For what period are medical results valid?
Medical results are generally valid for 12 months. In some circumstances, they are valid for a shorter period. Your case officer will inform you if validity is less than 12 months.
Can I do my medicals in advance of the application?
You can choose to do your medicals in advance of your application. This may speed up processing. This remains at your discretion and cost. The costs of medicals are not refunded if your application is refused.
What should I tell my Panel Doctor about my application?
It is very important that your panel doctor is informed that you are applying for a Partner visa and that Washington is the processing office. You should make sure that this information is written on the front of both forms 26 and 160 for each person doing medicals.
Will my panel doctor return the medical forms to me?
No. Your panel doctor cannot return the medical forms to you. The medical results must be sent directly by the doctor to the Washington office. If you have not yet applied, we will hold them until you lodge your application.
• Please refer to the Character Requirements for information.
Who needs to obtain a clearance?
Each applicant aged 16 years and over must provide police checks for each country (including Australia) in which the applicant has lived during the 10 years immediately before the Partner application is lodged where the time spent in a country was 12 months or more in total (cumulatively) and where the applicant was aged 16 years or over at the time of residence.
* Please note that you will need to provide both a U.S. State penal clearance from the state in which you currently reside AND an FBI police report. Police checks from channelers for FBI police checks are NOT acceptable for Australian immigration purposes.
How long does it take to get a U.S. Police Clearance?
It takes anywhere between 8 to 10 weeks to obtain an FBI police clearance; please ensure that you factor this processing time into your planning. You may consider applying for your FBI check prior to lodging your application as this may reduce the overall processing time of that application. For other countries, this process may take several months. We cannot expedite external clearances and we cannot grant a visa until any mandatory character requirement has been satisfied.
Do I need to provide the original penal clearance?
Yes. We ask that also include a photocopy of the originals to facilitate processing. We will return all of your original penal clearances once we finalise your application.
Do I need to declare spent convictions?
Yes, even if they no longer appear on your police clearance.
Do I need to complete Form 80 (personal particulars for character assessment)?
Your case officer will advise if you need to complete form 80 once your case is assessed. However, you may wish to submitted with your original application to ensure quicker processing. If you are asked to submit it, please ensure that you complete it in its entirety - failing to do so will delay processing.
Can I use Form 888?
Form 888 is intended for use in Australia and if you are obtaining a Statutory Declaration from someone in Australia supporting your claims of a genuine and ongoing partner relationship then this is an appropriate form to use. The form should be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or other authorised person.
If you are obtaining a statement from family and friends in the USA or elsewhere in the world, excluding Australia, there is no special format that you are required to use. Some people do use form 888 although it is not strictly designed for use outside Australia. Whatever format the declaration is in, it must be witnessed by a person authorised to certify a document in the USA, such as a notary public.
Should I submit original documents or copies?
• Police clearances must be original.
• Birth, marriage, divorce, adoption certificates as well as other key personal documents may be notarised copies.
• Simple copies are usually acceptable for rental agreements, bank statements, insurance documents etc. However, you may be asked to provide original copies once your case is assessed.
PRESENTATION OF APPLICATION
In order to assist us with processing, we ask that you please do NOT:
• staple papers or divide into plastic sleeves
• place in large folders
• send photo albums and videos
• send large quantities of original photos or letters
• send phone cards
• divide supporting papers thematically (eg financial; statements; personal
• send a representative selection only of copies of letters and photos
• use paper slide clips only
• place application form on top followed by sponsorship form
• attach next key personal documents (marriage and birth certificates etc)
• attach next statutory declarations and notarised supporting statements
• attach balance of supporting documents
PROCESSING OF THE APPLICATION
When will I have first contact from your office?
We would normally expect you to be contacted within 7 working days of lodgement of your application. You will know we have received your application when the fee is debited.
Who will be my case officer?
Your application will be processed by a case officer in our Migration Section. The officer will first assess your application and decide whether additional information is required. If we need more information from you, your case officer will let you know what it is we need and how quickly we need it. You will be given a deadline. It is important that you observe that deadline.
Your case officer will provide his/her name, direct telephone number, email and fax addresses.
Will we be interviewed?
You can expect to be interviewed. Whether an interview is required, and whether this is done in person or by phone is at the discretion of your case officer.
What is the processing time of a Partner Migration application? The better prepared an application with completed health and character clearances to hand at the time of lodgement, the faster a decision can be made. Take the time to read the online information and Booklet 1 thoroughly and document your claims properly. Good preparation will allow you to present your claims properly.
How quickly can you decide an application?
It is not always possible to anticipate the processing time in advance. Issues can and do arise in the course of processing which must be resolved before a decision can be made. Each application is considered on its merits and against legal and policy requirements. As a general principle, the better you prepare your application the faster we can reach decision stage.
While Washington may process applications quicker than the published Standard Processing Times, we recommend that you use these standards to assist you in planning the timing of your application.
Can I apply for a Partner Visa as a Spouse (SC309) prior to my marriage?
Yes, provided that you intend to be married by the time the application is ready for grant. Please ensure that you clearly indicate the intended date of marriage and provide documentation that arrangements have been made (ie - catering hall reservations if this applies) so that your case officer can plan the processing accordingly. Keep in mind that this provision relates to situations where the couple is planning to marry outside Australia; if the couple plan to marry in Australia, the applicant should apply for a Prospective Marriage visa.
INITIAL ENTRY DATE
Spouse and Interdependency Applicants (not fiancés – see below)
Health and police clearances are valid for 12 months from the date of completion/issue. In some circumstances medicals may be valid for a lesser period (for example, if you are subject to a health undertaking requiring you to report to health authorities on arrival in Australia). Whichever of these clearances expires first will determine the "initial entry
date" by which you must have entered Australia.
If you have obtained your health and police clearances so far in advance that they expire during processing, or are likely to expire so soon after decision that the initial entry date would not be viable, it is open to your case officer to require you to obtain new health and police clearances. Your case officer will determine the best course of action during processing.
Prospective Marriage (fiancé) Applicants
It is a legal condition of all Prospective Marriage visas that the visa holder must marry within 9 months of the date of grant of that visa.
You will confirm this by providing written confirmation on official letterhead from an authorised Australian Marriage Celebrant stating the date and venue of marriage and the Celebrant’s registration details.
As our processing time for these visas is 5-12 months, please ensure that you have reviewed your plans before you lodge your application. That is, calculate whether our processing times combined with the “marry within 9 months from visa grant” requirement will put you on the right track for the wedding date you have set.
You take responsibility for the timing of lodgement of your application. We will commence processing your application as soon as you lodge it and we will finalise the application when all requirements are met. We will not keep an application “on hold” because you have lodged it too early. If you do lodge too early, you will need to consider the very real possibility of bringing your wedding date forward.
Missing the entry date
While you are not obligated to relocate and move all of your belongings to Australia by the set entry date, you must make an entry into Australia by the initial entry date on your visa as this is a condition that is attached to your visa.
Should you not be able to enter Australia before your initial entry date your visa is liable for cancellation. Cancellation in this circumstance is discretionary and you would be asked to submit reasons for not meeting the initial entry date prior to any cancellation action being taken. If you had compelling circumstances that prevented you from entering Australia the decision officer may then decide not to cancel your visa at this time.
TIME OF GRANT
It is a legal requirement that an applicant who has lodged his/her application overseas (ie – outside of Australia) must be overseas at time of grant. As some of our applicants choose to be in Australia with their spouse/fiancé while they wait for a decision on their migration application, they will need to travel outside of Australia to allow for the grant of their visa and collect their visa label at a DIAC overseas office.
Please be prepared to liaise with your case officer about your travel plans if you choose to be in Australia during the processing of your migrant application.