Saturday, March 7, 2015

Australian Partner Visa

Applying for an Australian partner visa is a royal pain in the ass. Australian immigration will want to know every excruciating detail about your relationship and charge you thousands of dollars in the process. 

If you find this information useful, please share it with others. It can be a daunting process. If you have jumped through all the hoops, please feel free to leave a comment about your experience with Australian immigration below. 

Before we start, enjoy this funny immigration video. 

How much does a 309 or 820 temporary/permanent partner visa cost?
The Australian government bumps the price up every year, but in 2014 it was $3085 if you apply outside Australia, and a whopping $4575 if you apply in Australia. There are also a range of other costs which need to be considered too, such as medical checks, marriage certificates, document certifications, document translations, criminal record checks, postage and printing fees. I'll discuss these other expenses in further detail later, but the up to date visa pricing info can be found here

Entry to Australia date and partner visa expiry.
As you gather your documents and submit your visa application, there is one critical thing you need to be mindful of. Once you have jumped through all the immigration hoops and the visa is finally issued, on the visa will be a date which you MUST ENTER AUSTRALIA BEFORE otherwise your visa will be declared invalid. This date is tied to the validity dates of any health and character checks. When I inquired for more specific information, I was told it would be 12 months after the date on the medical check. You can request an extension, but this must be done at the time of the application and you will be asked to get a second medical check at a later date. You can find more info here, in the partner migration booklet issued by the department of immigration and border protection. 

Can I enter Australia before my 309 partner visa is granted?
If you have applied from outside Australia and some kind of emergency pops up requiring to be in Australia before your 309 partner visa has been granted, you can contact immigration/your case officer and ask them to put a hold on your application. This really is a last resort as you will have to leave Australia again in order for your visa to be granted. If you can't bare to be apart, plan accordingly. Apply from inside Australia or live together outside Australia until the visa is issued.

Can I leave Australia before my 309 partner visa is granted?
This is a similar deal to above. If you applied for your visa from within Australia but an emergency pops up (maybe a death in the family in your home country) requiring you to leave the country for a short time, you can ask immigration/your case officer to put a temporary hold on your application while you conduct your business outside of the country. 

What evidence do I need to provide?
There is a pretty long list of evidence you need to provide to prove that your relationship is genuine and ongoing. You can find more info here, in the partner migration booklet issued by the department of immigration and border protection, but here is a quick summary. 
  • Statements about the history of your relationship
  • Statutory declarations by people you know
  • Financial aspects of your relationship.
  • The nature of your household
  • The social context of your relationship
  • The nature of your commitment to each other. 
By the end, we compiled over 260 pages of evidence. We printed it all out and bought a cheap ring binder to hold it all. We probably went a little overboard with supporting evidence, but considering the application fee is over $3000, I didn't want to take any chances. I just went through the check list and included everything it asked for. This was the result. 

Australian Partner Visa Application Subclass 309

Who can I contact for help?
I found the Australian Embassy in Seoul to be very helpful. They responded to all my questions clearly and quickly. Website here. 

You could also use a migration agent, but if you are prepared to sit down and read all the information provided by Australian immigration there is no reason you can't do it yourself. If you do use a migration agent, make sure they are a certified migration agent for Australia. If you do use a migration agent, you are probably looking at a minimum of 4000 in extra fees, on top of the standard visa application fees, so taking the time to read and understand the the partner migration booklet is worthwhile. 

Where can I find the statutory declaration form for immigration. 
You want form no.888, which can be found here, statutory declaration by a supporting witness in relation to a Partner or Prospective Marriage visa application. 

How can I save some money on the visa documents?
In Australia you can get documents certified by a JP for free. In Korea we had to go to a lawyer to get documents certified. Happily though the service was very cheap. Only 25,000won ($25) compared to $150 in Australia. Jihyeon (my wife) did the translation from Korean to English herself, and then got the lawyer (who also offered a translation service for an additional 25,000won) to verify her translation as correct. 

How to apply for a Canadian criminal record check from overseas. 
Since my wife spent a couple of years living in Canada, we had to get a Canadian criminal record check too. I can recommend "Worldwide Forensic Services Inc". We got the local police station in Korea to take my wife's fingerprints, and then posted them to worldwide forensic services, who scanned them and forwarded them to the Canadian government for a criminal record check. All up it came to $120.

Australian immigration interview
We have not been asked in for an interview yet. If/when we are, I'll post an update. There is however a lot of good information on Australian immigration interviews here. Check it out.

Australian partner visa processing times/How long does it take to get a 309 visa?
You can find the official line on processing times on the immigration departments website here, but I've found that in 2014/2015 the processing times have blown way out. We applied outside of Australia through the Australian Embassy in Seoul. Korea is classified as a low risk country, so it should have taken about 5 months. We were told the queue was 9 to 12 months. In the end, our visa was issued after 9 months and 1 week. I have friends in Australia who applied for a partner visa from inside Australia for their Korean wife/partner and their applications took a whopping 18 months to be processed. 

Should I use a migration agent?
If you have the time, doing all the research and paperwork yourself is definitely doable and can save you thousands of dollars (i.e. at least $4000). The information booklet is a great source of information and I found my answers were always answered promptly by the Australian embassy in Seoul. If you are short on time/lazy/flush with cash, there are a list of registered migration agents you can choose from. I didn't spend a lot of time investigating the migration agent rout though, so I can't comment on it any further. 

Where do I go for the Australian Visa Health Check/Medical Exam?
If you are outside Australia, check out the Australian embassy website for your country for a list of hospitals that you can go for a medical checkup for. In Korea there are a handful of hospitals you can go to (see here for the list), but they are all in either Seoul or Busan. We went to Severance Hospital in Seoul since it was open on Saturdays. 

Australian 309 partner visa medical test at Seoul hospital

Australian 309 partner visa medical test at Seoul hospital

Do I need to fast for my Australian Visa Health Check/Medical Exam?
No, you don't need to fast. It is OK to eat or drink before going for your visa health check. My guess is that it is because the blood test is just checking if you are positive for HIV, A test for which it doesn't matter if you eat before hand. 

List of useful links
Here are some websites I found useful for reading up on the visa application/migration process and what is involved. 


  1. Hi Philip,

    Great information have you got a email address that I can send some questions to?

    1. Hi Nick, You can email me at gdaykorea85 gmail com