Ultimate Prospective Marriage Visa Guide
Congratulations! If you are reading this then it is because you are considering a Prospective Marriage visa. You are starting down the path of an exciting journey to migrate to Australia.
Even if you intend to work with a Registered Migration Agent (RMA) or Immigration Lawyer, it still worth referring to this guide to ensure that your agent is on track and giving you the best advice
As with all visa applications, the precise requirements that the Department is looking for will change depending on the case officer and your personal circumstances. These variables can’t be specified but what you CAN do is go above and beyond the visa criteria to give yourself the best chance of success.
What Are The Prospective Marriage Visa Costs?
The Australian Prospective Marriage visa is expensive. At a cost of AUD7160 (rising to AUD7587 from 1 July 2019) it’s the cost of a third of a housing deposit.
You should also consider the following costs:
• Medical Assessments (approx AUD330).
• Police check in Australia for the Applicant AND the Sponsor (approx AUD42 each).
• Police check in all countries where you have lived in for over 12 months after turning 16, for you AND your sponsor (Cost varies by country).
• Officially translated and certified documents in a language other than English from a NAATI accredited translator (Around $100 per page).
• Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer fee, should you opt to seek assistance (anywhere from AUD3000 to AUD6000).
If you are ready to invest that in order to secure your visa, it’s important that you do it right the first time. One mistake, one glaring inconsistency, or one missing document and you could face a visa refusal.
Now that the Application process is entirely online, there are a few changes that it pays to be aware of. You will only get access to the document upload screen once you have paid the VAC.
If you pay for your visa application by Credit Card or PayPal, a surcharge applies. This ranges between 1-2% per transaction
Neither cash nor cheques are accepted by the Department.
We suggest paying by BPAY via an Australian bank to avoid this charge. BPAY payments are the only payment method not subject to any additional surcharge.
Before you submit your application, you might need to ask your bank to approve a payment to the Department. There are some delays to paying with BPAY so you should avoid paying within a week of your current visa expiring.
How Do I Apply For The Prospective Marriage Visa?
As of 1 July 2018, applications for the Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa must be lodged online via ImmiAccount. You will need to set up an ImmiAccount here.
Payment of the visa application charge will also need to be made online via the ImmiAccount portal. You can no longer apply for these visas in person. Paper applications will not be accepted by the Department.
Keep an eye out for information online that refers to the now outdated paper application. This information out of date and should be disregarded.
You can apply for the prospective Marriage Visa through ImmiAccount
You can start a Prospective Marriage Visa Application form at any time. A case officer won’t look at the form until it is validly lodged along with the Visa Application Charge. You can use this time to get familiar with the form requirements.
Take your time on the forms. You can save them at any stage.
Once you have finished a first draft you can print the Application in full and review it manually to make edits.
Why Apply For The Prospective Marriage Visa?
The Prospective Marriage visa allows an Applicant to travel to Australia to marry their fiance and then apply for the first stage onshore Partner Visa (Subclass 820). If you are in a position to apply for the Subclass 820 right now then, you may not need to consider the Prospective Marriage visa.
However, there are a number of circumstances where neither an onshore nor offshore Partner Visa will be favourable. In such cases you should consider the Prospective Marriage visa. It is important to note that once you are married, you will no longer be eligible to apply for this subclass.
Here are some examples of cases where you might consider a prospective Marriage Visa:
- If you are unable to live together for religious reasons prior to marrying.
- If you are unable to live together for visa reasons; for instance if you are from a developing country and are unable to get a visa to join your partner in Australia, or if you are unable to leave Australia for extended periods of time.
- If you have yet to co-reside and/or have weak evidence, and are happy to live separately during the processing period.
The advantage of the Prospective Marriage visa is that the threshold of evidence required is significantly lower than any of the Partner Visas.
What Can I Do On The Prospective Marriage Visa?
- The prospective marriage visa has a range of permissive conditions attached to it
• you can stay in Australia for up to 9 months from date of grant of visa
• you can work in Australia
• you can study in Australia at your own expense
• you can travel to and from Australia as many times as you want
Most importantly, the Prospective Marriage visa allows you to Travel onshore to Australia and apply for the Subclass
It is important to apply for the Subclass 820 after you are married but before your nine month visa period ceases.
What Are The Sponsor Requirements For A Prospective Marriage Visa?
The basic requirements of a sponsor for the Prospective Marriage Visa that they are:
• Over 18 years old.
• Australian Permanent Resident or Citizen (Or eligible NZ Citizen).
• Have not been sponsored themselves or sponsored another person in the last 5 years.
• Have not sponsored more than two other partners.
The last two requirements are to stop sham marriages. There are provisions to allow a third partner to be sponsored in compelling and compassionate circumstances.
You can also add children to your partner visa application as dependants. The process for that is beyond the scope of this guide.
When Does The Prospective Marriage Visa Application Start Processing?
The current processing time for the Prospective Marriage Visa is the following:
• 75% of applications: 14 months
• 90% of applications: 21 months
You should be aware that this processing time commences from time you pay the visa application charge.
With that in mind it may be better to submit an application awaiting further supporting documentation rather than add an extra month to your overall wait time by holding off on paying the Application fee.
There has been some indication that the Department is preferring decision-ready applications and this may improve your processing time.
Prospective Marriage Visa Checklist
The Prospective Marriage Visa application process is going to require a number of documents as evidence of your identity, your character, and the fact that you’re in a genuine, ongoing relationship.
1. Identity Documentation
It’s a requirement of the Department that your identity is fully confirmed before you are granted a permanent visa. You should include certified copies of
• Birth Certificate
• National Identity Card
• Driver’s Licences
• Any other family identity documents that include the Applicant
• Any marriage or divorce certificate
• Any change of name documents from an Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, or the relevant overseas authority
• Any documents that show other names you have been known by
• Military service records or discharge papers if you served in the armed forces of any country.
It is essential that you provide certified copies of your current travel document and all pages that have been stamped or used by a customs office.
2. Australian Federal Police Check
While the Sponsor should provide the police check at the time of Application, the visa Application should wait until the Case officer requests it.
The Australian Federal Police checks are only valid for twelve months from the date of issue, so once you get this request you can understand that you’re getting closer to grant. The turn around for an AFP check is 15 days according to the website, but we suggest leaving at least three-four weeks.
Note that you are seeking a National Police Check via the online portal. Unless specifically advised, you will not need the fingerprint check.
3. International Police Clearance Checks
International Police Checks are often referred to as International ‘Penal Clearance Certificates’ (PCC). If you and/or your partner lived in any country for more than twelve months cumulatively in the last ten years you will both need a PCC from that country.
If you’re a frequent traveller this may mean you’ll need to get a few PCCs.
This is twelve months cumulatively total not just twelve months continuously. For instance, should you take a two-month break after 6 months in Canada, then return again for another 6 months, you’ll need to get a Canadian PCC. This is because your cumulative period in the country met the twelve month threshold.
Ordinarily, you will be able to obtain a PCC from the police of a given country. The only exception to this is the US where you are going to need both federal and state level checks. The federal level check can be sought through the FBI here, but State level checks are through the relevant police station of the particular state.
If you stayed in a developing nation and the likelihood that you’ll actually be able to get a check is low, then there is a waiver process. Keep in mind that a part of the waiver process is demonstrating to did everything you could to get a penal clearance, so if you start having difficulty, save those emails!
It’s important to make sure you’re applying the right police check, so as always, double and triple check.
4. Partner and Sponsor Statements
The Partner and Sponsor Statements are a good opportunity to address how the relationship started, developed and the important events leading up to the engagement.
If there is anything in your relationship history that is confusing or unaccounted for, this may raise questions with the case officer. Your Partner statements are a good opportunity to clarify these gaps and provide additional information.
5. Support Witness Statements
You’re going to need to nominate two supporting witnesses. If you have a choice of witnesses, we suggest you nominate somebody who is administratively efficient otherwise you might be left waiting a long time for them to complete their Statutory Declarations.
Supporting Statements are essential as they provide third party substantiation of the timeline and evidence provided by the partners. These should also be provided in a statutory declaration format.
This is something you should started on as soon as you can, because most people take a long time to get their forms drafted, edited, finalised, printed and properly witnessed.
The Department suggest that these supporting statement be prepared on a specific Form 888 (available here), however, we suggest that you avoid this form. It is quite brief, and doesn’t have the space for you to provide very compelling evidence.
Your support Statement witnesses should also provide certified copies of their identity document demonstrating they are Australian citizens or permanent residents.
6. Relationship Evidence
Any evidence that the relationship is genuine and ongoing.
• Evidence of ongoing Contact
• Evidence of financial transfers or Joint bank accounts
• Any joint commitments
• Evidence of travel undertaken together
• Photos of the couple together
When the Department wants to check your relationship’s authenticity, they won’t be afraid of combing through all your personal details, sneakily checking your Facebook, showing up unannounced at your door and requesting further information.
If you have a question about whether or not a relationship issue will cause problems, you should seek migration advice.
7. Evidence of Engagement
You should provide culturally relevant evidence that you have entered into an engagement. This could be:
• Letter of Support from a Celebrant
• Completed Notice of Intent to Marry
• Photos of the engagement ring
• Evidence of an Engagement party (including evidence of cultural rites and practices associated with an engagement).
8. Evidence of Face to Face Contact (After The Partners Turned 18)
This is fairly self-explanatory. You might want to include flight records or itineraries.
9. Completed Form 80
The Form 80 is a challenging document that requires a vast amount of information. It’s important to get it right however, so take your time, and remember to cross check important dates against the data in the visa application.
How To Providing Good Evidence For Your Prospective Marriage Visa
Here’s a few general guidelines when submitting evidence to the Department:
Be Careful and Consistent. You’ll never regret being careful with your evidence. The problem with submitting so much information is that it’s possible you could submit two documents that are inconsistent. While this may not necessarily be fatal to your application, it certainly won’t help it. Not to mention the extra stress and worry of knowing that there is inconsistent information in front of your case officer. Before lodging any new item of evidence, run a check on whether it is inconsistent with any other piece of evidence lodged.
Be Comprehensive. If in doubt and if your document supports your application and is coherent, then lodge it. The biggest concern is that you will have insufficient evidence. An abundance of evidence makes positive decisions easy for your assessing case officer.
Be Clear. It should always be clear what your evidence is showing and how it supports you application. Evidence that is out of focus, water-damaged, grainy, or low resolution should be discarded. Evidence that is unclear should be clarified with descriptions.
Before, lodging anything to the Department you should ask yourself:
What does this document show?
Is the document legible and in a readable form?
Will an English-speaking case officer understand what this document is for?
Is this document consistent with the body of evidence lodged so far?
ALWAYS USE PDF
If possible, you should always use the PDF format for all your documents. PDF retains its own formatting and is universally accepted no matter which operating system.
Foreign Language Documents
If your documents are not in English, you must get them translated by a NAATI certified translator. English is the official language of Australia so all documents submitted to the Department must be translated. This can be an expensive process to find an accredited translation service, so generally only documents that are central to your application (prior court orders) or required (like identity documents) should be sought to be translated. TIS has a number of accredited Translators that you can search by language on their website below:
Do I Need To Certify Document For The Prospective Marriage Visa?
You should never send originals to the Department unless they specifically request them. Always make a colour photo copy and have that copy certified by the appropriate authority.
Certified copies are authorised or stamped as true copies of the original by a person or agency authorised to do so under the law of the country that you are in.
People authorised to certify copies in Australia include (but are not limited to):
Justices of the Peace
Registered medical practitioners
Bank or Postal managers
Be prepared that this service may cost a fee and/or require a booking.
Tips On Uploading Your Documents
Once you’ve finished compiling your statements and your documentary evidence, it’s time to upload the documents to your Application in your ImmiAccount.
Each file should then be titled and given a date. You might want to submit further evidence later on so it’s going to be helpful to keep track of the documents you have and the date they were created. The Australian immigration department has you assign an “Evidence Type” label and a “Document Type” label to everything you upload.
There is a file size limit that the visa application system imposes on all uploads. At time of publication, the maximum file size allowed is 5MB and the maximum files allowed is 100.
You can’t un-upload a document. So be careful. Keep all the documents you intend to upload in a single folder.
Before you upload anything you should do a ‘final check’ of all dates, names and timeline. The primary area of failure for all prospective marriage visas is an inconsistent timeline.
Do I Need a Medical Check for the Prospective Marriage Visa?
Once you’ve had you Medical assessment it only stays valid for twelve months, so in most cases you should only get the check done once it’s in the relevant window leading up to grant of your visa.
Generally, one you’ve lodged a Prospective Marriage visa, after around 12 months the Department will likely also specifically request a Medical Assessment prior to grant. THe Department makes available a referral letter for you to take to an eligible facility to have the check. Depending on your country of origin, the referral letter may stipulate additional medical assessment requirements.
The nature of the Medical assessment sought depends in some part which country you are from. In effect, the Department wants to ensure that if it grants you a visa, you won’t be a burden to the public health system or a threat to the general populace.
Will A Health Issue Affect My Prospective Marriage Visa?
If you have either medical or character issues, which is to say, you fail or think you’re going to fail either one, then you should seek Migration advice at your soonest convenience. There are complex waiver processes in place for both Medical and Character based issues but given their time and complexity, you don’t want to wait until you receive a ‘Notice of Intention to Refuse’ from the Department giving you 28 days to respond or have your visa application refused.
You should never fail to disclose whether you have a health condition or a past criminal history. Due to information sharing arrangements, the chances are high the department already knows. Any failure to disclose past health or character issues will be viewed poorly by the Department and create significant barriers for you (both in the initial instance and at the AAT).
Honesty will always put you in the best possible position.
While all care is taken to ensure that this guide reflects the most accurate information, migration law is a fluid, rapidly changing area of law. This guide is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as specific legal or migration advice. This guide does not create a solicitor-client or agent-client relationship. If you have any concerns or if this information is unclear then you should contact a lawyer or migration agent before continuing.