Partner Visa is one of the most popular visa types applied for annually in Australia. Refusal rate is high, too, with large number of applications going through Administrative Appeals Tribunals (AAT) for review.

About 40% of the migration Tribunal’s caseload consist of dealing with Partner Visa refusals by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), according to the latest figures from the AAT. Of the total cases decided, just under half are being affirmed (AAT agrees with refusal) and over a third being set aside (ATT disagrees with refusal). The others are either withdrawn or discontinued. Cases are generally taking about a year to finalise.

What are the reasons for these alarming statistics? Let’s look closer at this visa type to find answers. On the surface, Partner Visas, seem relatively straight forward.  A happy couple makes a plan to spend the rest of their lives together, get married (or not) and lodge their visa application with the DIBP. What could go wrong when there is so much love in the air? Right? Sadly, in many cases things go wrong.

Visa application preparation can be confusing, frustrating, time-consuming process. It is definitely an expensive one, too! I shall come back to it later. Visa application processing by the DIPB may bring in its own challenges and obstacles. There are so many things during processing that can go wrong and lead to visa refusal. Some common ones include relationship break-down, false information provided in the application form, visa applicant not meeting health or character requirements, poor immigration history, issues with sponsorship by Aussie partner, children from previous marriages, dob-ins, etc.

One of the main requirements that need to be met is genuine nature of the relationship. Many couples may be indeed in long-lasting genuine relationships, but they have difficulties proving that on the face of documents. Sometimes, couples must wait to accumulate enough documents before they can even lodge a complete application.

It is also very hard to say how many documents are enough, and what sort of documents you need as it all comes to discretion of a case officer on deciding whether a relationship is genuine. The couple is also required to present witnesses who can confirm genuine nature of relationship. Witnesses enter legal obligation by signing their statements.

Interestingly, you do not have to be legally married to lodge a partner visa application, although slightly different criteria applies then. Same sex couples are also able to apply for Partner Visas.

A word on fees, again: an onshore application for a Partner Visa costs $7,000.  That is the fee for the primary applicant alone; if migrating partner has children then it will cost even more.  Then there are other costs, also: translator, courier, medical examinations, X-rays, police clearance certificates, etc.

Poorly presented applications may end up in a refusal and a loss of thousands of dollars. Consulting a professional and subsequently lodging a well-prepared application can save a lot of trouble, money and time down the track.