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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I'm Tom - I'm new here and just want to say Hi to everybody, and I'd also like to thank you all very much for the generous amount of information available on various immigration topics. For the last few days I've been going through lots of threads but I haven't come across a definite solution to my issues. If anyone is aware of a similar situation please point me to the right thread - I greatly appreciate it. I'm currently living in the U.S and my girlfriend is an Australian citizen. We've been in a long distance relationship for the last 4 years - we've communicated everyday but only physically met a few times in Australia and the U.S. We're planning to get married early next year but since she's assisting her mother (who's going through a lengthy medical procedure) and I want to be there with her during this difficult time we're not sure how to best proceed.

I understand that I can't just travel to Australia on a tourist visa, then get married there and lodge a partner visa within 3 months because doing so would violate the visa's conditions. And we don't want to go through the PMV route because it'll probably take more than a year before we can get married according to the DIBP website.

However, I'm thinking that with an ETA I can legally have multiple visits to Australia within a period of 12 months, so maybe I can travel to a nearby country for a short time before the end of the first 3-month visit, then come back to Australia and get married before the end of the second visit and apply for a partner visa. We'll live as a joint household and share everything together, including joint finances and have both of our names on bills and any other applicable documents. That way we'll have nearly 6 months living together, and we could also register our relationship in New South Wales to compensate for the standard 12-months requirement. Would that be considered a legitimate de facto relationship?

If 6 months living together and registering our relationship are not sufficient, we may lodge the partner visa application before the end of the fouth and final 3-month visit allowed by the ETA so we'll have almost a full year together before applying. Would the DIBP allow using an ETA to both visit and build our relationship that way, or would they possibly bar me from re-entry (even if the ETA is valid for multiple entries within a 12 months period) if they think doing so would violate the conditions of an ETA? I personally believe that building our relationship that way is legitimate and genuine. The potential issue is that we're not sure what kind of documents we may have both of our names on to establish evidence of a joint household. I think we may have joint bank/brokerage accounts and joint bills, as well as providing statements on domestic and financial arrangements to show we truly sharing our lives together but I'm still researching this.

Currently I don't see there's any other way for us to commit to our relationship without being able to live together for at least 12 months. As far as I know most countries only allow visitors to stay up to 3 months for each visit although multiple entries may be allowed up to 1 year in general. Since many people have lived in de facto relationships for at least a year or more, I guess that's one way they built their relationship, i.e, using multiple entries visa to live together before applying for a partner visa. Please correct me if I'm wrong, and any pointer/advice is greatly appreciated.
 

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I wouldn't bank on being able to use the ETA that way. Many people have posted on here before about being stopped on their second or even third time in of using the full 3 months, leaving for a short while and coming back again.

Some people do the 462 option to be together and also be able to work.

The ETA -> 820/801 is an option that many people take as well.
 

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I'm Tom - I'm new here and just want to say Hi to everybody, and I'd also like to thank you all very much for the generous amount of information available on various immigration topics. For the last few days I've been going through lots of threads but I haven't come across a definite solution to my issues. If anyone is aware of a similar situation please point me to the right thread - I greatly appreciate it. I'm currently living in the U.S and my girlfriend is an Australian citizen. We've been in a long distance relationship for the last 4 years - we've communicated everyday but only physically met a few times in Australia and the U.S. We're planning to get married early next year but since she's assisting her mother (who's going through a lengthy medical procedure) and I want to be there with her during this difficult time we're not sure how to best proceed.

** Best refer to her as your partner not girlfriend.

I understand that I can't just travel to Australia on a tourist visa, then get married there and lodge a partner visa within 3 months because doing so would violate the visa's conditions. And we don't want to go through the PMV route because it'll probably take more than a year before we can get married according to the DIBP website.

** Yes you can - depending on your evidence PMV might be a good option with the ETA to wait it out or a Work and Holiday visa if you qualify.

However, I'm thinking that with an ETA I can legally have multiple visits to Australia within a period of 12 months, so maybe I can travel to a nearby country for a short time before the end of the first 3-month visit, then come back to Australia and get married before the end of the second visit and apply for a partner visa. We'll live as a joint household and share everything together, including joint finances and have both of our names on bills and any other applicable documents. That way we'll have nearly 6 months living together, and we could also register our relationship in New South Wales to compensate for the standard 12-months requirement. Would that be considered a legitimate de facto relationship?

** Is an option but possibly best to register the relationship now anyway.

If 6 months living together and registering our relationship are not sufficient, we may lodge the partner visa application before the end of the fouth and final 3-month visit allowed by the ETA so we'll have almost a full year together before applying. Would the DIBP allow using an ETA to both visit and build our relationship that way, or would they possibly bar me from re-entry (even if the ETA is valid for multiple entries within a 12 months period) if they think doing so would violate the conditions of an ETA? I personally believe that building our relationship that way is legitimate and genuine. The potential issue is that we're not sure what kind of documents we may have both of our names on to establish evidence of a joint household. I think we may have joint bank/brokerage accounts and joint bills, as well as providing statements on domestic and financial arrangements to show we truly sharing our lives together but I'm still researching this.

** On any entry they can warn you to get a more appropriate visa for next entry - DO NOT take this warning lightly even if it is on your first entry.

Currently I don't see there's any other way for us to commit to our relationship without being able to live together for at least 12 months. As far as I know most countries only allow visitors to stay up to 3 months for each visit although multiple entries may be allowed up to 1 year in general. Since many people have lived in de facto relationships for at least a year or more, I guess that's one way they built their relationship, i.e, using multiple entries visa to live together before applying for a partner visa. Please correct me if I'm wrong, and any pointer/advice is greatly appreciated.

** To apply for a visa you must already be in a committed relationship. Living together for 12 moths is not a requirement (but a good way to collect evidence). Visitor Visas to Australia can be granted for 12 month stay periods and WHV's start at 12 months and extensions can be granted if conditions are meet up to 3 years now I believe (certainly 2 years).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thank you, @Skybluebrewer and @ampk for your advice.

@Skybluebrewer - I don't qualify for the 462 visa, but I don't need to work in Australia. As for the ETA -> 820/801 option that you mentioned, I'm not sure if we have sufficient evidence based on our long distance relationship. However, if we'll live as a joint household in Australia and share everything together, including joint finances and have both of our names on bills, would 3 months be enough to establish the relationship evidence required by the 820/801 visa?

@ampk - I've read somewhere that to register our relationship in NSW we'd have to live together there for at least 3 months. Is that correct?

Also, even if I can obtain a visitor visa for a 12 month stay, I can't really tell them I travel to Australia to get married and apply for a partner visa, can I? I guess not too many people apply for a 12 month stay unless they already have a family there.

I'm thinking maybe we can get married in the U.S first, then we'll both go back to Australia (myself with an ETA). Would they allow me into the country if I tell them that since we're married, my intention is to settle in Australia and apply for an onshore partner visa (820/801) there? Or do I need the 309/100 visa?
 

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@Skybluebrewer - I don't qualify for the 462 visa, but I don't need to work in Australia. As for the ETA -> 820/801 option that you mentioned, I'm not sure if we have sufficient evidence based on our long distance relationship. However, if we'll live as a joint household in Australia and share everything together, including joint finances and have both of our names on bills, would 3 months be enough to establish the relationship evidence required by the 820/801 visa?

** Both the 309 and 820 are evidence based so best spend some time now and sort that out - it takes time. If then you are short you know what you need to collect/gather and you actively seek that evidence. An example is to now find a real estate agent in Australia send them a email clearly stating you are a couple (by names) and are looking for the accommodation of your needs as a couple ( I work at a airports and she will work at the hospital) and get feed back from them on your options - have it sent to both your emails.
Things like that.

@ampk - I've read somewhere that to register our relationship in NSW we'd have to live together there for at least 3 months. Is that correct?

** Not sure the requirement varies by state/territory but most require one to live in that state/territory for a minimum period.

Also, even if I can obtain a visitor visa for a 12 month stay, I can't really tell them I travel to Australia to get married and apply for a partner visa, can I? I guess not too many people apply for a 12 month stay unless they already have a family there.

** There are ways to comply and address this, but if you look at this as a option consult a RMA first - it is not that expensive.

I'm thinking maybe we can get married in the U.S first, then we'll both go back to Australia (myself with an ETA). Would they allow me into the country if I tell them that since we're married, my intention is to settle in Australia and apply for an onshore partner visa (820/801) there? Or do I need the 309/100 visa?

Do not get married to get a 309 or the 820 generally it will not help at all and can often reduce options.

** No need to work! what is your skill set? is a skilled visa a option?
 

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I entered Aus on an ETA. Took 3 trips out at each 3 month period (2 trips to Bali, 1 trip back to the US). My plan was to get a 189 visa and I was honest about it the entire time. However, after my third trip (the one to the US), I was stopped and questioned by Customs in Sydney. I was told at that point that if I couldn't apply for the 189 visa in time, that we should apply for the 820/801 Partner visa, as I would NOT be allowed to enter again on an ETA visa. Turns out I didn't get the invitation in time for the 189 visa, so we applied for the 820 visa. It was a mess! So stressful.

If you can apply for the 189 visa, then start working on it now. If not, then I highly recommend you do as others have said, apply for the 300 visa and come over on a ETA or a 12 month Visitor visa. Wait to marry until you get the 300. This way, you don't have to worry about the "living together" part. And you can wait out your time until the 300 grant here in Australia with your partner. Or, you can take the 820 route...come here, plan to leave and return on the ETA, then apply for the 820 visa after only 5-6 months living together. This route is a bit trickier as you will have to have a LOT of good evidences to prove your relationship.

I highly recommend you at least consult with a RMA. It isn't that expensive and would help you plan out your best course of action. There is a "sticky" thread with RMAs who regularly post on here. I consulted RMAs with my situations and wouldn't have gotten through my visa process without their help.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@ampk:

** Both the 309 and 820 are evidence based so best spend some time now and sort that out - it takes time. If then you are short you know what you need to collect/gather and you actively seek that evidence. An example is to now find a real estate agent in Australia send them a email clearly stating you are a couple (by names) and are looking for the accommodation of your needs as a couple ( I work at a airports and she will work at the hospital) and get feed back from them on your options - have it sent to both your emails.
Things like that.

- This is such a great pointer. Thank you very much - we've never thought of keeping that kind of detailed records even though both of us are actively looking for our future home. Maybe we should also start lodging a NOIM now.

** Do not get married to get a 309 or the 820 generally it will not help at all and can often reduce options.

- We want to get married because we want to be together. I actually want to sponsor her to the U.S but she can't (at least in the foreseeable future) because she's assisting her Mom who's slowly recovering from a brain surgery and it's going to take a long time - doctors don't know when she'll be fully recovered, if at all.

I just thought it might make things a little bit easier if we've already been married before going to Australia and lodging an onshore partner visa.

** No need to work! what is your skill set? is a skilled visa a option?

- I meant not working for any company in Australia. I'm a software engineer/consultant and can telecommute from anywhere in the world. I don't work for any Australian company, just U.S ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@LadyRogueRayne:

- I thought the 309 visa had the same stringent requirements as the 820 except it's offshore, but based on what you mentioned I was obviously wrong. One point though: from what I understand we have to be married before we can apply for the 309 unless the requirements have been changed.

However, if that's exactly how the 309 works then it sounds like a good plan. Thank you very much for your information and advice.
 

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- I meant not working for any company in Australia. I'm a software engineer/consultant and can telecommute from anywhere in the world. I don't work for any Australian company, just U.S ones.
Your quickest route to PR would be through a 189 skilled visa. Your skill: Software Engineer Anzsco Code 261313 is on the Skilled occupation list. Thus, you could go that route for a PR to be with your partner. Bare in mind, you need to have your skills assessed (takes from a few weeks to a few months) and then you need to submit an EOI and wait for invitation before you can apply for the 189 visa. However, once you've gotten an invitation to apply, it usually only takes about 6 months for the visa processing (some done in just 3 months) AND it's a LOT cheaper than the partner visa. It is points based, so the higher points you have, the quicker the invite. At this stage, I'd say you'd need 70 points or higher to get an invite. The only sticking point is if that skill is capped to only so many invites a cycle, it takes longer waiting for the invitation. An added benefit is that if you apply for the 189 visa while onshore in Australia (say, from on ETA), then you get a BVA with full work rights until they make a decision on your 189 visa. That was what I was planning to do...but things went awry for me as my skills assessment took double the time that it should have (19 weeks instead of 10 weeks), ending up with us applying for the 820 partner visa instead.

It's something to consider. Again, talk to a RMA and look into the best options for you and your partner.
 
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@LadyRogueRayne:

- I thought the 309 visa had the same stringent requirements as the 820 except it's offshore, but based on what you mentioned I was obviously wrong. One point though: from what I understand we have to be married before we can apply for the 309 unless the requirements have been changed.

However, if that's exactly how the 309 works then it sounds like a good plan. Thank you very much for your information and advice.
Sorry! I meant the PMV 300 visa. That one doesn't have the strict requirements that the 820/309 visa does. You are right, the 309 has the same requirements that the 820 has. The PMV 300 visa doesn't have such strict requirements because you actually get married AFTER you've gotten the 300. Then, you apply for the 820/100 once married. My apologies for the typo! I've corrected my previous post.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Your quickest route to PR would be through a 189 skilled visa. Your skill: Software Engineer Anzsco Code 261313 is on the Skilled occupation list. Thus, you could go that route for a PR to be with your partner. Bare in mind, you need to have your skills assessed (takes from a few weeks to a few months) and then you need to submit an EOI and wait for invitation before you can apply for the 189 visa. However, once you've gotten an invitation to apply, it usually only takes about 6 months for the visa processing (some done in just 3 months) AND it's a LOT cheaper than the partner visa. It is points based, so the higher points you have, the quicker the invite. At this stage, I'd say you'd need 70 points or higher to get an invite. The only sticking point is if that skill is capped to only so many invites a cycle, it takes longer waiting for the invitation. An added benefit is that if you apply for the 189 visa while onshore in Australia (say, from on ETA), then you get a BVA with full work rights until they make a decision on your 189 visa. That was what I was planning to do...but things went awry for me as my skills assessment took double the time that it should have (19 weeks instead of 10 weeks), ending up with us applying for the 820 partner visa instead.

It's something to consider. Again, talk to a RMA and look into the best options for you and your partner.
This looks like a good option. I'll look into it - just not sure if the 189 visa allows me to telecommute from Australia, i.e working for a foreign company instead of an Australian one. Again, thanks for your generous info and advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Be a bit careful with that if ever in Australia on a visa without work rights
I thought this should only be an issue if I'm working for an Australian company on a visa without work rights. In my case I'll only telecommute from Australia, i.e I'll only work for U.S companies.
 

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I thought this should only be an issue if I'm working for an Australian company on a visa without work rights. In my case I'll only telecommute from Australia, i.e I'll only work for U.S companies.
Nope - your online "work" can only be ancillary to the reasons your visa is granted.

A Visitor Visa or an ETA is basically granted to visit family/friends or see the sights during tourism.

So be very careful what you tell in the visa application and the folk at the airport - your on vacation and work may contact you in an emergency, but I am here to be with my partner and meet the family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I entered Aus on an ETA. Took 3 trips out at each 3 month period (2 trips to Bali, 1 trip back to the US). My plan was to get a 189 visa and I was honest about it the entire time. However, after my third trip (the one to the US), I was stopped and questioned by Customs in Sydney. I was told at that point that if I couldn't apply for the 189 visa in time, that we should apply for the 820/801 Partner visa, as I would NOT be allowed to enter again on an ETA visa. Turns out I didn't get the invitation in time for the 189 visa, so we applied for the 820 visa. It was a mess! So stressful.

If you can apply for the 189 visa, then start working on it now. If not, then I highly recommend you do as others have said, apply for the 300 visa and come over on a ETA or a 12 month Visitor visa. Wait to marry until you get the 300. This way, you don't have to worry about the "living together" part. And you can wait out your time until the 300 grant here in Australia with your partner. Or, you can take the 820 route...come here, plan to leave and return on the ETA, then apply for the 820 visa after only 5-6 months living together. This route is a bit trickier as you will have to have a LOT of good evidences to prove your relationship.

I highly recommend you at least consult with a RMA. It isn't that expensive and would help you plan out your best course of action. There is a "sticky" thread with RMAs who regularly post on here. I consulted RMAs with my situations and wouldn't have gotten through my visa process without their help.
This looks like a good option. I'll look into it - just not sure if the 189 visa allows me to telecommute from Australia, i.e working for U.S companies remotely instead of an Australian company. Again, thanks for your generous info and advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Nope - your online "work" can only be ancillary to the reasons your visa is granted.

A Visitor Visa or an ETA is basically granted to visit family/friends or see the sights during tourism.

So be very careful what you tell in the visa application and the folk at the airport - your on vacation and work may contact you in an emergency, but I am here to be with my partner and meet the family.
Thanks a lot to you and @Skybluebrewer for pointing that out.
 

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I thought this should only be an issue if I'm working for an Australian company on a visa without work rights. In my case I'll only telecommute from Australia, i.e I'll only work for U.S companies.
I may be wrong, and you're more than welcome to create a new thread in hopes that an RMA will answer "Is working for a U.S. company remotely while onshore on an ETA acceptable?"

But I do believe work is work. I'm no migration agent, and as such don't know where or how to interpret the migration regulations, but the immigration website states: "It is illegal to work on an ETA. Whilst on an ETA you have no right to work in Australia. You can only undertake business visitor activities such as the undertaking of business enquiries and contractual negotiations or attending conferences.

Business visitors activities include the following:

-Making general business or employment enquiries
-Investigating, negotiating, signing or reviewing a business contract
-Activities carried out as part of an official government-to-government visit
-Participating in conferences, trade fairs or seminars, as long as you are not being paid by the organizers for your participation"
 
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