Our Australian Partner Visa 309/100 was granted in 4 months!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tristan and I have been in a relationship for 7 years, we have a beautiful daughter together and have never been apart from each other for more than a week! We have always talked about moving to Australia at some point but since having Saskia, we hurried up with the move.

We started filling out the online application for my Australian Partner Visa 309/100 in early December 2018. We slowly read through every question and filled in all of the details, page by page. It is impossible to fill it all out in one go, there are like 26 pages! It's a good thing you can save the form and come back to it another time. 

Once we reached the page where we had to provide statements (nature of the couple's household, social aspects of the relationship, nature of the couple's mutual commitment to each other, etc) we decided that I would complete each section - later we would check them together and Tristan planned to add anything I missed. There are 5 sections at about 2000 words each. These were difficult to write at first, especially because of the word limit. We knew that we had to upload our own Relationship Statements separately, so we kept the form as clear and simple as possible. 

By the 10th of February we had completed compiling our evidence, sorting the documents, scanning, PDF creating, writing Relationship Statements and finally completing the online application. That evening we made our last checks, pressed the submit button (together!) and paid the fee at the time of $7,160 (that's about £3,898).



A short time afterwards, we were able to add attachments. We uploaded all of the scans for my identity documents as well as evidence supporting our relationship. In total I had 50 documents (some of them duplicated across different sections). Tristan (as my sponsor) then filled out a separate sponsorship form on his immi account and uploaded all of his supporting documents.

I uploaded my Estonian (translated to English) and UK Police Clearance a week later. I started the process a few weeks prior. For my Estonian police check, I researched sworn translators and contacted a number of them to get the best price. Tristan also had to provide police checks, both from Australia and the UK. My medical check was done by the 22nd of February. I had my appointment in Nuffield Health in Manchester and everything went very smoothly and was very well organised. The resulting info was automatically available on my immi account the next working day.

Then came the waiting. On the 8th of May (3 months later!) I received an email from immigration requesting further information - my original birth certificate. For some reason, I thought the translated version would be enough and totally ignored the fact that they need the original document too 😳. I uploaded the requested document to my immi account the same evening and we were back to patiently waiting.

It is advised that you upload supporting evidence every 3 months or so, so at the beginning of June we uploaded a few extra documents to supporting our ongoing relationship. We put together a small PDF file (some photos, social media posts, etc) to briefly highlight the main events since we lodged the application and also added another document for financial evidence.
 
On the 11th of June, I received an email from immigration - my Grant Letter for 309 and a few seconds later another email for 100! We are still so surprised it took us 4 months. I am feeling very lucky, I know not everyone gets their grant so fast.

Here are some tips I think would help others when lodging the online application

  1.  Visa costs - currently an offshore application costs $7,715 (that's about £4,239), which needs to be paid straight away. Just a note - this increases almost every year. Medical and police checks are expensive and only valid for one year. There could also be hidden expenses for translating, getting documents certified and so on, so make sure you save up the money!
  2.  Keep every piece of paper - we kept just about everything since the very beginning of our relationship (including the smallest things like cards, cinema/concert/plane tickets). I'm someone who never throws anything away and felt very confident knowing we would have enough evidence for our application.
  3.  Take your time to gather the evidence - when we started going through our document folders it took us a few days to find and sort everything out that could be used in our application.
  4.  Read through forums/Facebook groups - we got so many tips and ideas reading blogs and forums, especially www.pomsinoz.com and www.australiaforum.com. Poms in Oz (Partner Visa thread) was so helpful while we were waiting, as reading other people posts kept our own spirits up.
  5.  Compile your evidence - Tristan and I spent so many evenings and weekends scanning in all of our papers, naming files (so they are easy to find), grouping the information and creating PDFs. As you can only upload 100 attachments, you don't want to waste space by uploading documents individually. The file limit is 5MB - Tristan spent hours trying to compress documents into single PDFs.
  6.  I have read that so many people have struggled writing their Relationship Statement. I was thinking for a long time of how to put together our story so it would be easy and understandable to read by a complete stranger! It was daunting at first but as I started writing (literally from the day we met in January, 2011) the story just started flowing. I ended up with an 8 page long statement. As we have been together for so long, I only really mentioned the most important bits of our relationship.
  7.  You can request the translated version of your birth certificate from the embassy/local town hall. I thought about getting a translation of my original Estonian birth certificate myself but after a bit of researching and contacting the embassy, I found they could help me the quickest... and I only had to pay £10. That saved me time and money as I would have needed to find a translator and apostille service otherwise.
And lastly - be patient! Everyone's application is different and the timeframes can vary depending on so many factors - the country you are applying from, the length of the relationship...

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