If you have brought out your girlfriend to Australia on a Tourist / Visitor visa and things have gone well, you may be wondering ‘what now?’ Do you try to submit another Tourist visa application, or do you opt for some other sort of visa – something that might allow her to remain in Australia and work and eventually lead to Permanent Residency? These are important questions because taking the wrong approach can often lead to delays, irreversible positions and visa applications being refused. Visa Planning for your girlfriend is just as necessary as family and financial planning. Early planning and preparation is vital for both short and long term success.
Clearly, what step you take next will depend on your individual situation. At what stage of your relationship are you and your girlfriend at? How long have you known each other? How much actual face-to-face time have you spent together? Do you want to take the next step in the relationship or are you happy where you are? If you are both happy where you are you might not want to enterinto a more serious de facto relationship, orget engaged, or get married. In that case you might want to think about applying for another Tourist visa. But you will still have to think carefully about your situation and the timing of applying for a Tourist visa. The Department of Home Affairs(DOHA) will not grant Tourist visas indefinitely and they limitthe amount of time they will allow on any visa or a series of visas. Theylook at the amount of time spent overseas and in Australia. It is strongly recommended that you speak to an experienced Migration Agent like us at Australian Visa Advice so we can clearly explain the Department’s policies and help you to work out the best option for your situation.
If you decide that it is time to take the next step in the relationship you may want to get engaged. This can certainly affect the next visa that she applies for. Tourist visas have a very limited scope in terms of who can apply for them and the purposes of the visit. Youmay need to think about whether she will apply for a Prospective Marriage (Fiancé) visa. Or will you get married first and then apply for a Partner (Marriage) visa. Will you apply in Australia or your girlfriend’s home country? You also have to ask yourself ‘do my girlfriend and I qualify for this visa?’. DOHA has very strict rules about who can apply for Tourist, Fiancé and Partner visas. With the Government visa fee for a Partner visa being almost $8000, you want to make sure that you choose the correct visa and get it right the first time – the Government almost never refunds the visa fee!
If you and your girlfriend want to take the next step in your relationship but do not want to get married or engaged you may want to think about a de facto relationship. DOHArecognises de facto relationships but it does have very strict rules about what defines a de facto relationship. Evidencing a de facto relationship can also be complicated and is also something that must be undertaken carefully.
I mentioned timing above. Timing is very important in your preparations because while a Tourist visa takes only between a week and a month to process, a Fiancé or Partner visa can take anywhere from 6 months to over 2 years to process. This means that if you and your girlfriend go for the Fiancé or Partner visa option, and apply offshore, you will have to think very carefully about your contact arrangements while any longer visa is processing.
What also comes into the mix sometimes is children. Your girlfriend may have a child from a previous relationship. While the child may have remained in the home country during the period of your girlfriends Tourist visa, if you two are considering a permanent visa she may want the child to migrate with her to Australia. If this is the case the most important thing you need to look at is the custody arrangements. If she does not have full custody of the child or children then the father will have to give permission. In summary, there are a lot of options open to you and your girlfriend to choose another visa after her initial Tourist visa. The best piece of advice I can give is to think carefully about what the different options encompass – the obligations and requirements, and always plan ahead.
Contact us at Australian Visa Advice(AVA) today.
Written by Luke Gorham ©2020
Registered Migration Agent
Australian Visa Advice
ETA Visa Australia Express
Photo Credit: Gustavo Fring
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