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    Domestic Violence & Visa Applications

    13/08/18 11:24 AM

    Introduction
    Immigration law is a complex everchanging black letter area of law.
    The requirements are strictly enforced and the number of immigrants looking to be granted a visa (permanent or temporary) are so high that the government easily increases both the difficulty and cost of visa applications.

    Frank Law does not practice in the area of Immigration Law, however we have a dedicated Family Law team and as such are abreast of a range of issues regarding Family Law. This includes the intersection of Family Law and Immigration.

    Context
    Domestic violence is a saddening reality of Australian life. More and more we see victims of domestic violence, both spouse and children, come into our office seeking advice on their relationship breakdown. Domestic violence is equally present in relationships where one spouse (or prospective spouse) is applying to live in Australia.

    Commonly, a foreign partner may apply for a Prospective Marriage or a Partner Visa based on their relationship with an Australian citizen. Where one partner is applying to live in Australia on a temporary or permanent basis in light of their relationship, many may consider themselves bound to that relationship, even if there is abuse or violence, in order to ensure that the visa application goes through.

    It is a requirement to inform the Department of Home Affairs of a change in circumstances such as the breakdown of the marriage or de facto relationship. Such breakdown can lead to the refusal of the visa application.

    This brings into question the justice in circumstances where a visa application is pending where there is domestic violence. Is the applicant bound to remain with their partner in a dangerous and inflammatory situation while their visa is processed (which can take up to 2-3 years). Or does the applicant give up on living in Australia altogether?

    Law
    There are family violence provisions that allow certain applicants for visas, such as the Partner or Prospective Marriage Visa, to continue with their application in the event of a relationship breakdown caused by domestic violence.

    The applicant must be able to prove that the relationship was genuine prior to the breakdown and that they are a victim of domestic violence (the violence or abuse occurring during the relationship).

    Take away
    If you or a client of yours is applying for a visa and is in a relationship that contains domestic violence, it is important to know that you are not bound to that violent relationship. Gathering evidence such as police reports and the filing of an AVO against your partner may help protect you and assist in continuing with your visa application in light of the relationship breakdown.

    Please contact Frank Law to help you start this process. 

    Andrea Harrold

    Written by Andrea Harrold