The Four Pillars: How to Evidence Your Australian Partner Visa

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by Rofia Mavaddat - LL.B - Registered Migration Agent [MARN 1467678]

November 21, 2023

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Getting started on your Partner Visa can be such an exciting milestone, but it can also come with its challenges. What evidence do I need to provide? What does Immigration want to see? I’m here to guide you through what’s known as the ‘four pillars’ of relationship. In simple terms, these are four different aspects of your relationship the decision maker looks at when saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to your application. 

Financial Aspects of your Relationship 

This is the first of the four pillars. Under the financial aspects, the Department of Home Affairs wants to see how you share and manage your finances as a couple. For example, do you share a joint bank account or do you maintain separate accounts? 

The decision maker will look to see whether you have any legal financial ties and obligations towards each other such as whether you are listed as each other’s beneficiaries when it comes to your superannuation, do you have a mortgage together, have you made joint purchases? 

The financial evidence will look different for each couple. I’ve never come across two portfolios of evidence which were exactly the same, and that’s simply because every relationship is so different. 

There is no prescribed ‘must have’ document. For example, it’s a huge myth that you need a joint bank account otherwise your partner visa will be refused. It’s true that having a joint bank account can help demonstrate how you and your partner share finances but there’s a myriad of reasons why couples might choose to maintain their individual accounts. 

Nature of your Household 

The second of the four pillars is the nature of your household. Sounds like the decision maker really wants to get close and personal, and they do. If you’re living together, the Department wants to understand your living arrangements. For example, where are you living? Do you have a joint lease or do you own the home? Do you receive mail to your shared address? 

They also want to know about what your day to day lives look like. For example, who does the cooking? Who does the cleaning? You might think I’m making this up but I’m really not. As part of assessing the nature of your household, the decision maker needs to be convinced that you are living together as a de-facto or married couple, not just roommates. 

Now what happens if you aren’t living together? Does this mean you’re not eligible for a partner visa? No. 

There are a lot of reasons why couples might not be living together. I’ve represented clients where they couldn’t live together because of religious beliefs, others because of cultural beliefs, other couples couldn’t live together because one party was inside Australia while the other was outside Australia. The list goes on. 

The key here is to demonstrate that you are not living apart on a permanent basis. So if you aren’t living together now, you need to make sure that you are explaining why in your relationship statements

Social aspects of your Relationship

This is a fun one! Under this pillar, the decision maker wants to see whether your relationship is known to your friends and family or is it a secret? 

They want to know how you present yourselves as a couple in public. Do you introduce each other as friends or have you revealed to the world that you are more? I generally find this pillar to be the easiest of the four to tick off. Simply because with the advancements of technology now, couple’s seem to have thousands of photographs, social media pages, evidence of being part of different groups and chats on social media platforms. 

Side note – don’t provide thousands of photographs with your application! 

Witness Statements from your friends and family are really important here. You can also provide evidence of joint events you have attended as a couple, invitations you have both been sent and evidence you belong to the same groups. 

If your relationship is a secret though, or if your friends and family and the world at large are not aware, this doesn’t automatically mean your application will be refused. It will just take more work on your part to demonstrate that you are in a genuine and continuing relationship. You may want to also consider using a migration agent to handle your application or joining the Partner Visa Academy where we can guide you more closely around the social aspects of your relationship and review your application before it’s submitted. 

Nature of your Commitment 

Nature of Commitment is my personal favourite of the four pillars. Why? Because you get to talk about your love story and all those butterfly moments of first meeting each other, talking about how your relationship developed overtime and your future plans together. 

The decision maker wants to see how long you have been in a relationship, the degree of emotional support you provide to each other, how you help each other navigate challenging times. They want to know whether you view your relationship as a long term one.

You’re probably wondering how you evidence that, and a lot of it you will need to talk about in your relationship statements! In terms of evidence under this pillar, you can provide your marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate, if you’re engaged then you can provide evidence of your engagement. You can demonstrate you are listed as each other’s emergency contacts with your employers. 

Do you need to have an equal amount of evidence across all four pillars? 

Not all the four pillars need to be evidenced the same. What that means is, if you have a lot of evidence under the financial and social aspects of your relationship, but limited evidence under the nature of your household, that’s okay! It all comes down to why. If you don’t have a lot of evidence under a particular category, why? Is it because perhaps you have never lived together? 

Although you don’t need to provide an equal amount of evidence across all four pillars, I still strongly recommend that there is some evidence under each four pillars. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a couple lodging a partner visa and providing no evidence under the financial aspects, or no evidence under the household pillar. 

How much evidence is enough? 

This is the million dollar question!! And this is also why it’s so important to get immigration advice and preferably have your application checked before lodging it. 

There’s no such thing as the ‘perfect amount’ of evidence. Each case is different so you want to make sure you’re evidencing your relationship to the best of your ability. Sometimes you will see on different forums or hear from your friends that they provided over 100 documents with their application. If you only have 20 documents to upload then that can feel stressful. Don’t let advice from friends or family freak you out. Keep in mind that you don’t know how people have collected and presented their evidence (which is also super important). At the end of the day, it’s about covering the four pillars of evidence and having the perfect evidence portfolio for your relationship. 

Will the Department tell me what evidence they need from me?

When you lodge your Partner Visa, you are expected to provide the Department with all the documents and information they need to make a decision on your case. 

Contrary to what you may have heard, the Department is under no obligation to request additional evidence and documents. Keep in mind that were not talking about your medical examination and police checks. I’m speaking on evidence to demonstrate you are in a genuine and committed relationship. 

So what does this mean in practice? It means if you lodge your Partner Visa and then hope the Department will tell you what specific documents you need to provide, then you’re risking a visa refusal. It’s always so important to seek immigration advice before lodging your Partner Visa or having Partner Visa experts like us review your application prior to it being lodged. 

IMPORTANT: Please note, this does not constitute Immigration advice. Always seek advice from a Registered Migration Agent before applying for an Australian Visa. Migration Law is constantly changing. This information is accurate only at the time of publication.

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Rofia Mavaddat - LL.B - Registered Migration Agent [MARN 1467678]

Rofia was born in Perth, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Law and has been a Registered Migration Agent since 2014. Rofia chose to specialise in Partner Visas because of a deep-seated belief in the power of love and family unity. She has seen firsthand the joy and fulfillment that comes from reuniting couples and keeping families together. Her work in this area allows her to witness and be a part of the beautiful stories of love and togetherness - what could be more rewarding? 

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