This post is all about gathering your 820/801 Australian Partner Visa evidence. Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” document checklist, I’ll give you an overview of the 5 categories in which you need to provide evidence, as well as plenty of suggestions for satisfying the requirements in each. Use this information to determine the evidence you will submit to prove “a genuine and continuing relationship” with your partner, and then read my next posts to learn about completing the online application, organising your documents for upload, and finally hitting submit!
Read my whole series on applying for the 820/801 Australian Partner Visa for more information about preparing your evidence, lodging your application, and the next steps. If you’re just beginning, start with this post to get an overview (and to read about our story). And, as always, please remember that I am not a migration agent or affiliated with Home Affairs in any way, so all the information provided in these posts and in the comments below is based entirely on my own experience and my own understanding of the application process.
Why your evidence is important
At the end of the day, your eligibility for the 820/801 Australian Partner Visa depends on your ability to prove a genuine, committed, and continuing relationship with your partner, on a written application that will by read by someone who has never met either of you. The process is somehow both incredibly personal, requiring intimate details of your circumstances, and impersonal, reducing your relationship to its constituent parts and requiring that your every romantic feeling be “supported” by evidence. The true irony of this system is that the more genuine your relationship, the less likely you actually are to have perfect evidence: you probably didn’t open joint bank accounts the day you started dating, keep every text message you ever exchanged, stress about having both names on the utility bills, or even save tickets from every event you attended together if you were just enjoying the natural progression of your relationship and not staging it as a means to migrate.
The other pitfall of this process is that you are essentially asked to align every aspect of your relationship with an ideal situation, one in which you met, dated, became committed, moved in, and then never spent a second apart. Of course, the vast majority of people are unlikely to be able to shove a genuine, long-term relationship into a box this way, so you are left to “explain” and “justify” circumstances that really only you and your partner can understand. I resent that my relationship could be questioned just because I took a 3 week holiday with a friend (in a year that I also took 3 overseas trips with my partner), as if the only mark of a true relationship is one in which you never leave the house without the other.
To an extent, I think Home Affairs does recognise both of these issues, though. This application process will likely always be invasive, but the purpose is to weed out those who are trying to cheat the system, not couples who have been too busy enjoying life together to keep email records from 5 years ago or those whose relationship has had a unique progression. Uploading evidence to your application is not just about ticking all their boxes, but about telling the story of your relationship. To that end, this is the most important part of the entire application, where you move beyond answering generic, prescribed questions that you may struggle to apply to your situation and instead have the opportunity to explain, in whatever way makes the most sense, the nature of your relationship.
Telling the story of your relationship
According to Home Affairs, you need to submit evidence across the following 5 categories to prove that your relationship is “genuine and continuing”:
- Financial aspects of the relationship
- Nature of the household
- Social aspects of the relationship
- Nature of the commitment
- Development of the relationship
Even though the upload section of the application isn’t organised in quite this fashion, this is definitely the best way to lay out your evidence to ensure that you provide sufficient information in all categories. In other words, it won’t do you much good to provide only joint bank statements, proof of joint assets, and wills listing each other as beneficiaries, as you haven’t touched on the 4 other categories. Organising your evidence under these headings now will help you figure out what gaps you need to fill in your application before you start uploading.
What evidence goes where?!
A single piece of evidence can fit into multiple categories and tell a slightly different story in each. Although everyone has their own idea of where certain evidence “belongs”, there actually isn’t a right or wrong way to organise your evidence. Cal and I, for instance, have been on dozens of trips together in more than 20 countries, so instead of including plane ticket after plane ticket as part of our commitment evidence, I started to include plane tickets in other areas: I paid for both of our tickets to Bali, Iceland, and London, which could represent a financial aspect of our relationship. We also travelled twice to America to see my family, hiked through NZ with my parents, and spent time in South Africa with my mum, so those tickets really speak more to the social aspect of our relationship.
Most importantly, even though you can make a plane ticket tell a different story depending on what section you place it in and what details you highlight, your CO is not assessing your application in a vacuum— he or she will notice the cross-categorical implications! Organise your evidence in a way that makes sense to you and don’t stress about the rest.
Be sure to include..
As a final piece of advice, I think it’s really important to highlight any “irregularities” in your situation and then offer an explanation. If you spent 2 months away from your partner, for instance, don’t try to exclude it from the application because it “looks bad”— the purpose of all this relationship evidence is to prove legitimacy, not perfection! (And it would look far worse if you were dishonest or misleading on your application, anyway.) Talk about this period in your stat dec, offer an explanation, and provide evidence during this time to show that you were still committed. Similarly, if you are worried about not having joint bank accounts or the fact that your partner hasn’t met your family, explain! You won’t be rejected for not having every single piece of evidence suggested by Home Affairs, but you will benefit from having an informed CO!
Information & inspiration for your own checklist
In each of the following 5 sections of this post, I will lay out the purpose of that particular category as I’ve come to understand it by reading official Immi documents and information from RMAs online (although it’s still my own opinion and I’m not in any way officially qualified!).
I’ll then provide a list of essential evidence that I find to be crucial in satisfying the requirements of that section, which will always include a statement from either you or your partner that will guide the CO through your evidence, explain your situation in more detail, and fill in any gaps.
Lastly, I’ll give a list of suggested evidence that will hopefully just get you thinking about what relevant information you might want to share and what potential documents to submit. These lists are based on my own submission and the extensive research I did in preparation, reading dozens of checklists written by other 820/801 “survivors” and by Home Affairs. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll have everything on this list (we definitely didn’t, even after 3.5 years!), but you don’t need more than a few good pieces of evidence to really tell your story.
1 | Financial aspects of the relationship
The purpose of this section is to establish financial interdependency between you and your partner, which might be in the form of shared expenses, joint assets, beneficiary status, or monetary support. Every relationship (particularly if you’ve only just fulfilled the 12 month de facto minimum to apply for this visa) will have varying degrees of interdependency, but it is still a key requirement of this visa that you and your partner share financial responsibility in some capacity.
- A statement from either you or your partner describing your shared financial responsibility. This should function to guide your CO through the rest of this section’s evidence and fill in information that can’t be gleaned from any documents (e.g. how you supported your partner when they were unemployed, how you divide costs while travelling together, etc.). Many people also have the partner who did not write this letter sign an additional stat dec saying something to the effect of “I have read the statement made by my partner, and I confirm all information to be true and accurate”, but we did not do this.
- Proof of shared financial responsibility for a rental or mortgage, in the form of a lease agreement with both names, communication from your real estate regarding a shared property, joint home loan, mortgage, etc. This has the added benefit of establishing cohabitation, another important requirement of this visa!
- Utility bill to your shared address, which may not mention both names (many companies will only print a single name on the bill) but does establish expenses that are being paid by one or both of you for your shared home. This is further proof of residential address.
- A statement from a joint bank account, showing both names and the date the account was opened or even a transaction history to prove regular use. This is also useful for establishing information about the “nature of the household”.
- Screenshots from your bank showing transfers to/from your partner with descriptions
- Travel expenses for you and your partner paid for by one of you
- Car in both names
- Proof of other shared assets
- Receipt of major joint purchases
- Statement showing payment for weekly food shop
2 | Nature of the household
The purpose of this section is really just to show how you and your partner fulfil the requirement of cohabitation and how your joint household functions. This can be through a jointly-signed lease agreement, your division of cleaning and cooking, your shared bedroom, etc. I personally found that this section had a lot less evidence than other sections of our application (how do you prove who does the cleaning?!), but as long as you can concretely establish a shared residence with a lease agreement, I think it’s safe to include most of the other required information in a statement.
- A statement from either you or your partner describing how you share household responsibilities (e.g. cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, paying the bills, etc.).
- Lease agreements for all shared properties you have lived at with your partner.
- Mail addressed to both you and your partner throughout the time you’ve lived together.
- Photos of your home, particularly your shared bedroom.
- Proof of shared responsibility for a pet or a child
- Mobile phones on a shared plan
- Correspondence from your real estate/strata sent to both of you
- Statement from anyone who has lived with the two of you (I have spoken to people who lived with their partner’s family and obviously didn’t have a shared lease, so a statement from the family is important to include in these circumstances)
3 | Social aspects of the relationship
The purpose of this section is to prove that your relationship is known to and accepted by others, most specifically your friends and family. This might mean attending events or travelling together, spending time together with friends, having a close relationship with one another’s families, or just generally making your relationship public (e.g. registered de facto, marriage, or even Facebook!). While there are many applicants for this visa that have never met their partner’s family (based on what I’ve read in forums), I think it’s pretty crucial for this section of the application to at least show that people in your life (e.g. friends, colleagues) have spent time with you and your partner or that you have been very open about your relationship (e.g. posting on social media) so that it doesn’t look “secret”!
- A statement from either you or your partner describing the social aspects of your relationship (e.g. what you do together for fun, events you’ve attended, shared invitations to weddings and parties, joint travel, etc.).
- Form 888 from your Australian friends and your partner’s Australian friends and family to show that you are actively involved in one another’s lives and that your relationship is widely known. You are only required to submit 2 of these, but I think the more, the merrier! We submitted 9, which included my partner’s family, several of his friends, a work colleague, several of my friends, one of my work colleagues, and some mutual friends who were actually there when we met.
- Photos of you and your partner together, as well as together with friends, over the course of your relationship.
- Joint travel tickets and photos (e.g. plane tickets, travel bookings with both names, travel photos).
- Proof that you have made your relationship known to people (e.g. relationship status on Facebook, posts about each other on social media, relationship certificate, wedding photos)
- Invitations addressed to both you and your partner (e.g. party or wedding invites)
- Gift to/from your partner
- Communications between you and your partner’s family
- Mutual Facebook friends
- Membership to clubs or groups in common
4 | Nature of the commitment
The purpose of this section is to demonstrate how you and your partner have committed to one another and to a continuing, long-term relationship together. This could mean having “knowledge of each other’s personal circumstances such as background and family situation”, listing one another as beneficiaries of your will, having joint assets, supporting each other emotionally, or making future plans together. Again, the strength of this section is probably in the statement you will make about your commitment, as many of these things are difficult to “prove” with documents.
- A statement from either you or your partner describing your commitment to one another (e.g. how you are involved with one another’s family, how you support one another emotionally through difficult times, how you have combined your lives, your future plans together, etc.).
- Stat dec/signed letter from any non-Australian friends or family who have been involved in your relationship (here’s a template to at least get them started from My Access Australia: statutory declaration template). I had my mum, dad, and stepmother each write a letter for our application, describing the times they’d travelled with me and Callum, that they had visited us in Australia or we had visited them in America, and any other personal details they wanted to include. They all wrote very different letters, but they turned out very nicely and I think they speak to the close relationship that Callum has with my family.
- Photos with each other’s families. We have been on a number of overseas trips with both of our families, so this was easy for us to include, but if you don’t have a bunch of group photos already on hand, I’d suggest snapping a couple over the next month if you have dinner with your partner’s family or go to a sporting event all together.
- A screenshot of your partner listed as your emergency contact/you listed as your partner’s.
- Evidence that you were in communication with one another during any periods of separation (e.g. message transcripts, emails, phone records) and/or that you visited one another while you were living apart (e.g. plane tickets to see each other).
- Proof that you have listed your partner as beneficiary of your accounts or Super, or that you have listed them in your Will
- Wedding plans
- Future travel plans
- Joint savings for a house/other investment together
5 | Development of the relationship
Home Affairs actually suggests just writing a statement for this section, which you might choose to sign as a stat dec (we just submitted signed statements in the end, one from each of us about the progression of our relationship). Quoting directly from their document checklist, include information about:
- how, when and where you first met
- how the relationship developed
- when you became engaged or married, if applicable
- joint activities
- periods of separation
- significant events in the relationship
- your future plans together
The next step is to gather a few additional pieces of personal information before finally sitting down to work on the application. Read all about that process in this next post.
I hope this information has been helpful and I wish you so much luck on your Australian Partner Visa journey! Feel free to ask any questions below and I will do my very best to answer them.
* I am not a migration agent or affiliated with Home Affairs in any way, so all the information provided in these posts and in the comments below is based entirely on my own experience and my own understanding of the application process.
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UPDATE: A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who’s commented on these posts to let me know that you found the information helpful— I can’t tell you how much it means to me, because it was a crazy amount of work to put this together (while I was trying to finish my PhD, no less), but knowing that it’s being used makes it all totally worth it. More importantly, though, thank you to everyone who has shared their own experience or answered questions for other readers in the comments below!! We are building a little community of Partner Visa applicants and survivors here and it’s massively reassuring, for myself and I’m sure for anyone just beginning their application, to hear stories of success or get advice from those who’ve come out the other end. SO, if you felt like these posts or the information in the comments helped with your application, I’d encourage you to come back after your visa is granted (or even after various milestones) and let us know what happened! It could end up being a huge help to someone else 🙂 xx Brooke