Australia Travel

We Survived Part One Of The 820/801 Australian Partner Visa

Let me preface this by saying that, like the process of getting the 820/801 visa, is a long post. If you’ve found yourself in a similar position to me (either as the Australian sponsor or the overseas partner trying to get the Australian partner visa) I hope that it provides you some reassurance, information and hope. Feel free to make a cuppa, sit down, and have a read.

A Quick Intro

Last week Dean got an email saying his 820 Temporary Partner Visa, a.k.a. the first hurdle in the 820/801 visa process, was approved.

YAY!

But to be honest as we were sitting there reading the words we’d been waiting to read for more than a year (14 months actually), there’s a sense of anticlimax. Yes the first part is over, but there’s still quite a lot to get through. Anyway, onto the story.

Applying for a visa as invasive as the 820/801 Partner visa takes a lot out of a person. For one it can make you pretty paranoid. So paranoid in fact that I have put off and put off and put off writing this post. I wanted to help others, but I worried that the Australian Government would read my blog post and somehow think I wasn’t suitable to sponsor Dean. It’s crazy right? Well that’s where my brain was then. So I waited until Dean’s visa was approved, and now here we are.

Want another confession? We never even looked at the 820/801 visa process for Dean emigrating to Australia until more than a year of being together. We just kinda assumed that it would be straightforward. After all, we were in love. As it turns out, the Australian government isn’t in the business of love stories. They’re in the business of paperwork, as is the case with all governments.

I don’t want to make this seem harder than it is but I have to be honest here. Applying for the 820/801 visa was among the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

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Our 820/801 Visa Story

Falling in love with Dean was like a roller coaster I never wanted to end. It sounds corny, but there it is.

Realising what we had to do to keep our love alive in Australia was like hitting a wall that should definitely not be on that roller coaster track. Sudden, jarring, and very painful.

Dean and I met in February of 2013. After just one night we knew we were supposed to be together, I can’t explain why. We just fit. Two weeks later we were living together in a share house in Sydney, with Dean working to save money so he could join me on my first South East Asia trip. I’d planned to leave in April, but I realised pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to let Dean go, so I put my trip off and waited.

We left in July and spent the next five months travelling all around South East Asia. We explored Indonesia (where we climbed a volcano and Dean nursed me through dengue fever), Thailand (where I got a bamboo tattoo), Cambodia, and Vietnam (where we ran down enormous sand dunes and explored a magical mountain). It was the most incredible trip, but it was over way too fast. In November we parted ways in Singapore, with me heading back to Australia to organise my UK visa and Dean going back to England to work and wait for me.

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The next 2.5 months were hard. Like really hard. After spending 24 hours a day together, 7 days a week it felt like part of me had literally been ripped away. I went on a road trip with my family, spent more than $200 on mobile internet calling Dean, and counted down the days. Dean worked, skyped me at ridiculous hours, and tried to survive. We met up in Heathrow and jetted off to Paris for three amazing days of winter love. Then is was back to our new home in the UK, for a year of working, saving and preparing.

We stayed in England for 11 months. It was in itself a wonderful adventure, with lots of walking, exploring, wandering and seeing new things. We covered some serious miles, visited London, saw Brighton Beach, went out in all weather with Dean’s dog Hecter, and generally had an amazing time. But before we knew it the year was over, and we were off again. On our way back to Australia we covered Thailand (where we saw lots of temples), the Philippines (where we chilled out), Malaysia (where we fell in love with George Town), and Singapore (where I didn’t write a post because we spent the entire time geocaching and eating).

It was in the Philippines, holed up in a hotel room with decent wifi and a steady stream of half-decent tea, that I started to put the 820/801 visa application together. This was about the same time that I discovered the cost of the visa had recently DOUBLED. Yep, that one slipped right past me, but suddenly we had gone from paying just under $3,500 to almost $7,000, and that’s not including other costs such as the medical, police checks and more. I’m not going to lie, I cried. For several days in fact. Then I got back to the paperwork.

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The 820/801 Visa Application

On the surface the 820/801 Partner Visa application seems simple enough. You can submit it online with the applicant (that’s Dean) filling out the Application for migration to Australia by a partner form (47SP) and the sponsor (that’s me) filling out the Sponsorship for a partner to migrate to Australia form (40SP). Now if you’ve opened these forms, you’ll see that they’re just the find the government likes: long and intrusive.

One of the things we had to do was list all of our brothers and sisters, including half and step. Well if you include everyone there are 10 children in my family, and I had to include ALL the details, including when my older brothers got married. Dean has step-siblings he’s never even met, but they all went on there as well.

The other challenging thing was filling out every country we’d been to in the last 10 years. Luckily Dean hadn’t travelled that much in the last decade, except with me. But I had to dig through my old passports and include the time that I spent living as a kid in Indonesia. Complex as hell.

And that was just the beginning.

The biggest thing that Dean and I faced with our 820/801 application was proving our relationship. We are not married, and didn’t want to get married just to make the visa process easier. So, we applied for our 820/801 visa as De Facto partners, meaning we had to fit a number of requirements and prove these on paper.

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Documents Supplied For Our 820/801 Visa

To make this easier for everyone, I thought that I would just provide a list of all the documentation that we supplied with our 820/801 application. We didn’t use a migration agent because the cost was too high, so I’m not really sure if some of these documents aren’t 100% necessary. I also included a cover letter that summarised all of the evidence and documents we’d attached. I used a numerical system (i.e. Financial 1.1, Social 2.1) to organise the evidence, and to make for easier referencing in various statutory declarations.

Now, this is just part 1 of the process. We still haven’t applied for the 801 part of the visa, as you can’t apply for it until two years after you lodge your initial visa application. So, Dean and I lodged in March of 2015, so we’ll be applying for the next stage (i.e. proving more information to prove we are still a couple) in March of 2017.

For Dean Specifically

  • Birth Certificate
  • Certified Passport Copy
  • New Passport Sized Photographs
  • Police Check From United Kingdom
  • Police Check From Australia (didn’t think we’d need this but it took so long to process the visa they asked for this too)
  • A Character Stat Dec, signed by Dean and witnessed by a Commissioner of Oaths (at police station)
  • Statutory Declaration outlining the nature of our relationship from Dean’s eyes and referencing evidence as below. Including references (my parents), and witnessed by the Commissioner of Oaths.
  • Medical Check (Completed just before 820 was granted)
  • Form 80 (we didn’t fill this out initially because we were told we might not need it, but they asked for it in the end)

For Me Specifically

  • Birth Certificate
  • Certified Passport Copy
  • New Passport Sized Photographs
  • Statutory Declaration outlining the nature of our relationship from my eyes and referencing evidence as below. Including references (my parents), and witnessed by the Commissioner of Oaths.

Proof Of Genuine And Continuing Committed Relationship

  • Form 888 Statutory Declarations from four people (three friends and my mum) saying they could confirm the relationship was genuine and ongoing
  • Wills showing each other as the sole beneficiary
  • Photographs of me sick with dengue fever, to show that Dean supported me in times of illness
  • Police report from a theft that happened in Malaysia, to show we support each other in times of financial hardship
  • Cards and Letters from the length of our relationship, to show how gooey and romantic we are
  • Skype logs for the 2.5 months we spent apart between Nov 2013 and Jan 2014

Financial Commitment

  • U.K. bank statements, to show we had a joint bank account that we used regularly
  • Australian bank statements, to show we had opened a joint account upon return to Australia and moved our funds to it
  • Letter written by me outlining the financial support that I was able to provide as Dean’s sponsor (although there’s not technically a financial component) including my tax returns for the past 2 years
  • Receipt of registration for the car we bought when we arrived in Darwin, registered in both our names
  • Electricity bills for our current place in Australia, with both our names (added some months after the original application)

Household Evidence

  • Lease for the U.K. where we were both signed tenants
  • Lease for Australia where we are both signed tenants (added some months after original application)
  • Photographs and statements showing that we jointly cared for Dean’s dog in the U.K. (might have been grasping at straws here)
  • Letters from U.K. bank showing we lived at the same address
  • Statement from Dean’s mother (not a Stat Dec) as evidence to our relationship during the time we lived with her in the UK
  • Statement from my father (an actual Form 888 Stat Dec) as evidence that we lived in his house during the early months of our relationship, before we shared a bank account or were on a lease.

Social Commitment 

  • Flights that we took together during our travel (even though they weren’t paid for in a joint account… Remember to book seats next to each other!!)
  • Accommodation receipts for the time that we travelled together
  • Evidence of our shared hobby of Geocaching, including joint purchases we made to pursue it (we bought a GPS) and a record of all the geocaches we found
  • Various photographs taken throughout the length of our relationship, captioned with dates and including family members from both sides
  • Blogs that I wrote on Barefoot Beach Blonde about my relationship with Dean, dated and with links to the original
  • Certificates and photographs from a cooking class we took in Thailand together

p.s. the social stuff doesn’t seem that much, but it was indicated to us that this was the important ‘little things’ that the Department of Immigration often looked at in determining the legitimacy of a relationship.

Resources

Australia Forum – Amazing place and great community for your questions and queries!

Australian Government Partner Migration Booklet

p.s. If you’re a government official reading this I’m not really angry at the government, paperwork just drives me crazy. You guys do a great job, please let my partner stay in this wonderful country 🙂

A Simple Guide To The First Stage Of 820/801 Australian Partner Visa | MapsAndMandalas.com

This post originally appeared on BarefootBeachBlonde.com, the pre-evolved version of Maps And Mandalas. I’ve republished it here with its original date because I love it that much.

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Nikki
    April 19, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Hey congratulations and thanks for sharing! I’m thinking about getting my partner here on the same visa (well, either partner or independent skilled, I was told partner might be easier but now I’m having second thoughts…) Anyway! My question is: after you submit the initial application do you get a bridging visa straight away? Does the bridging visa allow you access to medicare and full working rights? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      April 19, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      Hey Nikki,

      If you apply for the partner visa onshore from another visa, the bridging visa will kick in as soon as your other visa expires. So if your partner arrived in Australia on a tourist visa, the bridging visa would start the moment the tourist visa ends. You are definitely able to work on the bridging visa, and you do get access to Medicare as well, via interim Medicare cards with shorter expiry dates than normal ones.
      In terms of what visa to apply for, I think it really comes down to your preference. Waiting times for all visas have increased, including the partner visa. If you’re planning on using an agent, they’ll be able to provide more expert information, but with our government currently making changes to immigration, I think the partner visa is a pretty safe bet. That being said, it’s a challenge and can be very invasive. Privacy means something different once you’ve gone through the process!
      Whatever you do, good luck!

  • Reply
    Joseph
    April 2, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Hi there! I really enjoyed reading this so Tks for that. Can you pls let us know how the second part go!I’ll be applying for my second part in July, could really use some advice and see the process of it all trough you! . Good luck

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      April 2, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Hi Joseph! Yeah we just submitted for the second part, but it will be quite a while (going off the official waiting times) until we hear anything. Keep an eye out for the next post on the evidence for second stage, which I’ll post in a few weeks!

  • Reply
    Chris
    March 26, 2017 at 9:34 am

    We have been on the 801 for 18 months.. the whole process is so long. My wife is from the Philippines and we started by applying for a marriage visa back in May 2013. They say on the IMMI site that the 801 is a 2 year wait before getting the 802, so just another 6 months and hopefully we can start looking at the citizen ceremony. We are hoping for Australia Day 2018, with Fingers Crossed 🙂 That will be near 5 years from the first paper work. Long Process but we are happily Married and the finish line is near… The Wait and Ridiculous costs are all worth it in the end when your Other Half happens to come from outside Australia. Good Luck to Everyone going thru this painfully long Process…

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      March 26, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      Hey Chris thanks for your comments and sharing your story. It is such a long wait, and I think as you can probably see from the other commenters it’s something we’re all suffering with. May 2013 is one hell of a journey, we started ours in March 2015 and I still think I’ve been waiting too long. Now, particularly with the recently updated waiting times for 820 temp to 801 PR, well, it’s enough to take the wind out of anyone’s sails!
      All the best for the future, and I hope that on Australia Day 2018 your wife is celebrating her new citizenship!
      O.

  • Reply
    Felicity
    March 21, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Hello!
    Congratulations on the first half of the visa and good luck with the second half!
    It’s hard work! We’ve submitted our 820 visa and trying to add all the evidence but it feels never ending!
    Can I just ask, once you submitted the question parts of the visa how long after did it take you to submit all the evidence? We submitted the visa 24th Jan ’17 but still uploading the documents. Keep panicking we are taking to long but I’ve been told there is no specific time frame to finish it.
    Any advice really appreciated!
    Thank you! 🙂

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      March 21, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Hey Felicity!
      Yes it definitely is hard work! Congratulations on getting to the point of submission. I don’t know how other people do it, but we submitted all the evidence in one day. We had been working to put together the evidence in a series of pdf files that we then had to compress so they would fit with the immi website’s regulations. As I said in the article I used a numerical system to cover each point in the stat dec (i.e. Financial 1.1, Financial 1.2 etc) with a piece of evidence that we referred to when we wrote our stat decs. It was a massive process, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and also to ensure I had enough evidence for each section.
      Now that I’m working on part 2, I haven’t put quite as much work in. My understanding is that you just have to show your relationship is ongoing, so I’m probably including more images and statements from friends than other stuff.
      Good luck with your application!

  • Reply
    Zen
    March 12, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Trying to get the 801 permanent is a nightmare worse than the 820 .
    I am Australia and my partner from the UK
    Lived together now for 4 years . I love my partner beyond words . The waiting and waiting and hearing nothing is exhausting .
    Don’t know why I thought it would be easy and quick . Silly me

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      March 12, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      Yep I’m with you Zen. It’s a really hard thing to get through, particularly when it takes so long and there isn’t much (if any) communication from the Government about progress etc. We’re just about to apply for the 801 now and we’ve recently discovered that waiting times are much higher than we had anticipated. Sucks 🙁 I too thought it would be quick and easy. Looks like we both believe in love over bureaucracy!

      • Reply
        Zen
        March 16, 2017 at 9:52 am

        The wait time is apparently between 12-18 months for the 801 partner viser .
        And they actually put you under the microscope even more …
        it shouldn’t be this hard to prove you love someone . We are 5 months into waiting for the second part .
        It’s funny how beurocrats with the tick of a box can potentially decide our relationship Fate .
        All the best with your 801 , keep in mind this is a hard one . Last and biggest hurdle .
        I really enjoyed reading your blog and love the photos by the way 🙂

        • Reply
          Oceana Setaysha
          March 16, 2017 at 9:21 pm

          Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed reading. Keep an eye out for the second instalment, and then (eventually) the successful visa grant!
          Yes the 12-18 months is certainly much higher than we heard first. When we applied in 2014 the times were listed at around 6-8 months, so it’s obviously gone up quite a lot, like many aspects of the visa.
          I understand your frustration with the process. I’m definitely feeling that as we apply for the second stage. I never, ever, ever thought it would be this difficult to prove to a faceless government official that my relationship was legitimate. On the plus side, this has been such a massive hurdle in our relationship, that many of the other challenges we encounter day-to-day don’t seem as bad. We often joke: “Hey, at least it’s not another visa.
          Basically, we can survive anything now!

  • Reply
    Kelita
    March 8, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Oceana,

    Thank you for writing this important and touching blog post. I know that you’re not an immigration lawyer, but would love to hear your advice because you are an expert in your own right. I am feeling very stressed and disheartened by this whole process.

    I met my Australian boyfriend while travelling and we want to start a life together in Australia. To be considered ‘de facto’ we need to have lived together for 12 months (which we haven’t because we’ve been doing long distance & are only doing trips together for 1-2 months at a time). It’d also be impossible for him to come live with me because he’s finishing school in vic.

    This is my plan:
    – live with him in Australia for a year on a 12-month Working Holiday Visa
    – accumulate evidence of shared financial, social commitment etc
    – lodge the Partner visa at the end of the 12-months & then stay and work on a Bridging Visa
    –> I’m not sure about this part because we have to have lived together for 12 months before submitting the visa application, but I also need to submit the application before the Working Holiday visa expires.

    On another note, I’ve also read somewhere that registering in a domestic relationship in the state will help strengthen the Partner Visa application – do you think it’s worth the $300 and hassle of obtaining the certificate?

    Thanks very much!

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      March 9, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Hey Kelita,
      You’re right, I’m not an immigration lawyer, but I have navigated the system. I understand how you feel about the process. It is very difficult to imagine having to analyse and justify your relationship, so I’m with you on that.
      Now, in terms of your plan I think you’re on the right track. You can time your application for the 820/801 visa to be close to the end of your WHV and you should be fine. When you apply you put the details of the current visa that you’re on, and as soon as it expires you’re granted a bridging visa while your application is processed. Also I’m not 100% sure but I think that the ’12-month’ timing is cumulative. So if you can prove you have lived together at other points this also counts. This is what happened with my partner and I.
      With the domestic relationship, I always think the more paperwork you provide the better. That wasn’t an issue in the Territory that we live in, so we didn’t do it, but I know of others who lived in states where this was an option who felt it was a smart idea.
      If you haven’t already, I highly recommend having a look at the Australia Forum, particularly the immigration section. This is a fantastic community of people who are also going through the Aus visa process, both partner and otherwise. They are a great resource and always quick to answer questions I’ve found.
      Good luck, I really wish you and your partner all the best. It seems like a big thing to tackle now, but you will get there in the end.

  • Reply
    Agness of eTramping
    February 17, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    This post is wonderful and informative, Oceana. It is also a beautiful love story. May you live happily ever after.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      February 21, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Thanks Agness! 😀

  • Reply
    Simona
    February 17, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Hey,
    I really enjoyed reading all this, and I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit jealous of all your travelling!! But, I will have time to travel, I just know I will 🙂
    That said, my partner and I have just applied for the 820. Bloody hell!! This is going to sound like a very stupid question and I apologise, but I’m drained and have looked everywhere, but I can’t seem to find a concrete answer. We too wrote a cover letter, but have no clue what to upload it under. Like, a subcategory or something. I’m going crazy, hahaha!!
    Thank you so much for writing this, it will help so many people – I know it helped me – and good luck with your 801!!

    Simona

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      February 21, 2017 at 8:14 am

      Hey Simona! Your question isn’t silly at all. There is SO MUCH paperwork, it’s hard to keep track of everything. As we submitted so much information, I put all our evidence into a kind of ‘table of contents’ and then submitted this with a READ FIRST label. The cover letter was at the start of this document. And yes, the time will come when you can travel again, but until then enjoy some of the incredible places right here in Oz, there are LOTS!

  • Reply
    Sally Ann
    January 19, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Good luck guys!

    I applied for my 801 and I’m still waiting after 17 months!!!! 🙁 I have no idea why it’s taking so long!? It’s really stressing me out.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      January 26, 2017 at 9:34 am

      Oh my goodness that is a long time! We’re about to apply for the 801 in March, I really hope we aren’t waiting that long! Good luck and I’d love to know what your ultimate waiting time was.

    • Reply
      would rather not say
      February 15, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      I was waiting for 25 months, heard nothing yet.

      • Reply
        Oceana Setaysha
        February 21, 2017 at 8:15 am

        I’m really sorry to hear that! I really hate to hear stories of people waiting for so long, it can be very hard on everyone involved. I sincerely hope that you hear something soon.

  • Reply
    Shar
    January 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Hi! Thanks for posting this. I’m currently waiting for it to get approved… we applied a year ago and so far we have heard nothing. We have been adding things slowly over the year…. like a house we bought together only a couple of months ago. We also uploaded our travel evidence only a couple of months ago as we took time to collate it all into one big document per year (we have been travelling quite a bit since 2012). We’ve lived together for over 4 years now so I’m hoping we get the 801 straight away (it said you can go straight to permanent if you have lived together for over 3 years at the time of applying…). Fingers crossed. I can’t wait to hear something, I’m so impatient and getting a bit paranoid! Good luck with the 801 application!

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      January 26, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Hey Shar! Yes it is A LOT of evidence to put together. Your case sounds like you have a really good foundation. Dean and I had only lived together for a year when we applied, but we had been together for two years. I really hope you hear something soon! Good luck 🙂

  • Reply
    Amy
    January 4, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Congratulations!! My husband and I are working on this visa now. I got bridging visa in July and currently working on evidences online. I am really stressed with all paper works too 🙁
    Regards!

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      January 5, 2017 at 4:16 am

      There is a lot of paperwork Amy, but you’ll get there in the end 🙂 We’re about to start the second stage, to apply for the permanent residency and then onward maybe to citizenship! Good luck!

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