Prospective Marriage Visa (300) issues - Disability and long-distance relationship...

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Prospective Marriage Visa (300) issues - Disability and long-distance relationship...


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Old 09-23-2013, 12:45 PM
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Post Prospective Marriage Visa (300) issues - Disability and long-distance relationship...

G'day everyone

I apologise in advance for asking (in all likelihood) questions that have probably been addressed numerous times before, but my situation has a number of challenges that are outside the norm.

I have read CollageGirl's excellent thread on Partner visas, read 'The Booklet' ,'The Checklist' and sought advice from a number of agencies, including the immigration office in Brisbane and a MARA. Unfortunately, no two sets of advice quite agree with one another - and due to the peculiarities of the situation my girlfriend and I are in, we are not confident in successfully applying for any of the available visas - PMV (300) merely seems the most likely at this point.

The primary issue is one of distance, disability and finances. While my girlfriend and I have been in contact online and phone, letter etc. in one capacity or another (acquaintance, friend, romantic interest etc.) for the last 12 years, we have only met each other in person once six years ago, (as we became more than friends) when she visited on a tourist visa for three months.

She lives in California, so she needs to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. A number of times she has managed to save up enough for a Work/Tourist visa application (tickets + 5k in bank) only to have some emergency drain her savings (car, medical, job changes etc.) For this reason she has not been able to return to Australia under her own steam and is unlikely to be able to do so for the foreseeable future.

As I am disabled, overseas travel is extremely challenging - being away from my support base is high risk. For this reason I have not attempted to visit her in the past either.

This means that we have very little to show for such a long term relationship. Without finances, she cannot apply successfully for non-partner visas - and in any case we have been advised that attempting to use another visa type to allow for a stepping stone to a Partner visa is being very carefully scrutinised and risks 'No Further Stay Flags' being applied - especially to the work/study/travel visas - preventing bridging to a partner visa.

The immigration officer, incidentally, recommended the PMV for this situation as she said it was most like an arranged marriage which this situation resembles.

Due to the relationship being almost completely online/long distance means that we are finding it very hard to meet the requirements for the PMV, however - exacerbated by the fact that I have a very small friends circle and none of them can testify to having watch our relationship develop. Only my parents qualify for the stat dec requirments, and I have been told that is likely insufficient.

While Collagegirl's thread states that having proof of meeting in person is the main criteria, the application checklist also requires a history of the relationship, including engagement, joint activities, and other significant events.
Because of the situation listed above - we are not formally engaged, not having enough spent together offline for that - and have not participated in any documented joint activities (except online chats, which I doubt count), so we cannot provide that either.

To try and meet the documented meeting requirements I am planning to travel there later this year (I have the finances and accumulated leave from my job where she does not) as my level patience for waiting is at an end, despite the risks.
I was not planning to formally ask for her hand until after she got the visa and was in Australia - as it would be living hell to be engaged and separated - but I am now concerned it is a requirement of the application to be engaged.

Can anyone confirm or deny this? Also, given the situation as outlined can we/should we try for a non partner visa of some type? Is there any legal way to successfully qualify for another visa type in this sort of situation, that we have missed? I am finding the paperwork and rushed feel of the engaged-marriage process (given our lack of offline contact) extremely daunting despite having very serious feelings between us.

Please note that I have been advised by a number of parties (including the MARA) to avoid the partner visa and gain entrance with another visa, but as visiting, studying or working is not the driving force behind the immigration I feel that not only would it qualify as lying - it would have a very good chance of having everything revoked and my girlfriend deported once we tried to apply for a partner visa onshore.

If anyone has any practical advice, it would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely

WR


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Old 09-23-2013, 01:47 PM
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Hi WR -

My thought would be a visitor visa to allow her to visit you, or for you to visit her for some period of time - the PMV visa does expect you to be engaged, as a document from a marriage celebrant evidencing your intent to marry is a requirement of the PMV and the PMV states that you must marry within the 9 months of the visa validity period. If engagement is too much now, perhaps a visit to her, or her visiting you is the answer. It would allow you to spend some quality time together and see if you're headed for marriage. At this point I would not suggest applying for the PMV given you're not engaged and have not seen each other in person for years. DIAC unfortunately does not give much credence to relationships where the couple primarily communicate via Internet without any recent meetings.

Hope this helps - please advise if I can assist further with any questions, etc.

Best,

Mark Northam

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Old 09-23-2013, 02:04 PM
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Hi WR. Welcome to the forum. When I saw your thread I was afraid it was the disabled person that was migrating (Australia makes that nearly impossible!) Glad that's not the case! But yes, you still have some work ahead, eh?

Yes, it is absolutely a requirement of the PMV to be engaged. It's a prospective marriage/fiance visa - you must be engaged in order to qualify for it. It's not negotiable, I'm afraid. Also, as I think you probably read already, if she is granted the visa, you *have* to marry within nine months of it being granted or her visa would be revoked. So it's not like you can just extend the engagement.

I'm not sure why you were told that DIAC frowns on people coming over on other visas and then later applying for partner visas. It's done all the time successfully and without issue.. Is your girlfriend by chance under 31? If so, she could come over for a year on the Work and Holiday Visa, and then you could qualify to apply as a de facto couple right before the end of her visa.

She would also qualify for an ETA quite easily as an American - that will get her over there for a year, more or less, but she'll have to fly out of the country for a few days every three months, and she may get hassled at the border when she returns repeatedly. I'm not saying they wouldn't let her through - they just might give her a hard time about whether or not she is a "genuine tourist."

You could also try for a year-long tourist visa for her - but if finances are an issue I think she'd potentially have a difficult time getting that. And student visas and tuition are *astronomically* expensive.

The PMV is definitely the most promising way for you to go about this, in my opinion, which is a shame in your case as you don't seem ready for that level of commitment. If you do decide to go that route, it will be really good for you (if you're physically able to and it's safe) to come over here to the US and get officially engaged, though. 1) You can have an engagement party with her friends and family and take lots of photos (that will be great evidence; 2) more of her friends/family can meet you and get to know you, enabling more people to be able to write statements for you; 3) you'll have pictures together more recently than six years ago together (which I think DIAC would wonder about).

In general, though, as long as you've met in person, there's absolutely no harm in the relationship being long-distance and online. This is the case for many, many couples these days, my fiance and myself included! We've been lucky enough to spend holidays with each other here and there over the 6 years we've known one another, but we've never lived in the same city. We have a very strong case for PMV (as long as my medical issues don't put a wrench in it..) And I agree that being engaged and separated is living hell... sigh.

[EDIT: Mark was posting while I was typing, apparently. Haha.]

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Visa #1: PMV (300) through Washington, D.C
Applied: April 2013.
Visa Granted: January 2014.
Visa #2: Subclass 820 (From PMV).
Applied: End of April 2014.
Visa Granted: Early July 2014.
Visa #3: 801 (PR)
Eligibility Date: End of April 2016 (Applied a month prior).
PR Granted: Early April 2017.

Last edited by CollegeGirl; 09-23-2013 at 02:10 PM.

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Old 09-24-2013, 12:29 AM
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Smile G'day and thank you...

Hi Mark and Collage...

I believe there may have been some slight misunderstand regarding my initial post.
Neither of us have any issues with being engaged - it's simply that circumstances have prevented us being together long enough to make it possible! If it had been possible, we would have made a formal commitment ages ago...

I have already contacted a celebrant. She assures me that it should not be too hard to pick a date that won't expire before the PMV is granted.

The reason I asked about other visas is that - because of the lack of off-line contact, it would be much easier to build a case for any sort of partner visa if she could come into the country for a while - and the feedback about the partner visas is that they are hard to have them granted without that sort of long term contact/shared finances.

But if being formally engaged while I visit this year is sufficient, then we'll gladly do so.

Just wish there was some way to have her here for a solid period of time (that didn't cost mountains of money, paperwork or fibbing) prior to making the application - I'm concerned that without it the PMV has little chance of being granted.

Thanks for the advice

Raphael


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Old 09-24-2013, 12:58 AM
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Okay, let me try to clarify a little bit.

You said "circumstances have prevented you" from "being together long enough" to be engaged. I'm confused why you think there's some sort of period of time you have to be together before you get engaged? People do get engaged all the time having spent less time together. I mean, think about arranged marriages, which DIAC fully allows! As long as you have met in person (you have) and as long as you have both decided you want to get married (and it sounds like you have) you qualify for a PMV! I think you're confusing the requirements for the PMV with the requirements of the de facto visa, for which you must have lived together for 12 months. There's NO minimum amount of time you have to have spent together in person for the PMV (other than meeting at least once). I'm not sure what "formally engaged" means to you, but I promise you - if you've both decided you want to marry each other, that's engagement.

The purchase of a ring is good evidence... visiting her and having a party with friends and family (with plenty of pictures) is good evidence... "congratulations" cards from friends and family are good evidence... but there's no special ceremony without which you aren't engaged. lol. This is completely unromantic, but my fiance and I got engaged over the phone, having not seen each other in person for two years previously (he was in AU, I was in the US). You've been talking for six years online and met in person once... you're bound to have plenty of evidence of that that can show this engagement wasn't an out of the blue thing by people who don't know each other at all.

But even if it was... if you have met in person at least once, have genuine plans to marry (and make plans with a celebrant to do just that), and your friends/family are aware/supportive, you've got nothing to worry about! And even less to worry about if you make that trip.

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Visa #2: Subclass 820 (From PMV).
Applied: End of April 2014.
Visa Granted: Early July 2014.
Visa #3: 801 (PR)
Eligibility Date: End of April 2016 (Applied a month prior).
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Old 09-24-2013, 01:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkNortham View Post

Hope this helps - please advise if I can assist further with any questions, etc.
I don't have PM rights otherwise I would have sent this directly.

We are considering filling out the paperwork for the PMV mostly prior to my visit this year, then adding the last of the proof-of-contact information after I've been there a couple of weeks.
Now we're adding the engagement to the list - are you suggesting that this won't be sufficient for the PMV, due to the lack of face to face contact overall?

Also, I've had a number of people who've been through this process tell me a MARA such as yourself is essential.

I did contact one here in Brisbane - they said the partner visas were not suitable - which we accepted - and suggested that we could apply for the Work/Study visa (as my girlfriend is 25).

We asked about the the 'No Further Stay' condition on the Work/Study visa, but they did not answer.
This especially concerned us as it seems to indicate we could not apply for an onshore partner visa to be granted after the Work/Study visa was completed and she would have to leave.

We pointed out that my Girlfriend was having issues accumulating the required 5k. We became alarmed when the response was to say we didn't need to worry about the required 5k finances required on her part as it was 'policy, not legislation and policy can be argued'.
Any questions as to how this tallied with the information supplied by the site and the Embassy in the US (who said it was a mandatory condition) were waved away - actually they said the Embassy was not involved, so 'ignore their advice'.

We said this sounded like risking having our application rejected due to not fulfilling conditions and asked if they were sure this was achievable - they said that 'they could not guarantee success' then asked how much money my girlfriend had.

We politely closed discussions after that as the situation felt less than optimal.

Almost everyone has suggested having my girlfriend move into the country under the work/study visa for a year to fulfill the face to face requirements of the partner visa - but we can't see how it can be done under the circumstances.

Could you point me in the direction of a reputable MARA in Brisbane or failing, that clarify the Work/Study financial conditions and the 'No further Stay' flag issue?

Regards

Raphael


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Old 09-24-2013, 01:22 AM
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Hi CollageGirl - Re engagement

Ah! that does clarify things! When the checklist said 'Engaged' I thought it meant 'a ring or other token formally given and accepted in person'.

If it just means - you consider each other exclusive partners and stated such in some form of communication to one another- we've qualified for the last two years (at a minimum)!

Thanks for that. Still seriously considering a proper ring and getting out of the wheelchair to formally propose while I'm there though... both knees as I'd face plant if I tried to do one knee.


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Old 09-24-2013, 01:31 AM
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Not just exclusive partners - but exclusive partners *with plans to marry.*

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Original Nationality: US
Visa #1: PMV (300) through Washington, D.C
Applied: April 2013.
Visa Granted: January 2014.
Visa #2: Subclass 820 (From PMV).
Applied: End of April 2014.
Visa Granted: Early July 2014.
Visa #3: 801 (PR)
Eligibility Date: End of April 2016 (Applied a month prior).
PR Granted: Early April 2017.

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Old 09-24-2013, 01:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CollegeGirl View Post
Not just exclusive partners - but exclusive partners *with plans to marry.*
People are weird - how can you be exclusive without plans to marry? But I take your point.

Thank you.

Raphael


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Old 09-24-2013, 02:00 AM
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That's what the entire de facto visa subclass is all about...

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Original Nationality: US
Visa #1: PMV (300) through Washington, D.C
Applied: April 2013.
Visa Granted: January 2014.
Visa #2: Subclass 820 (From PMV).
Applied: End of April 2014.
Visa Granted: Early July 2014.
Visa #3: 801 (PR)
Eligibility Date: End of April 2016 (Applied a month prior).
PR Granted: Early April 2017.

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