The Australian government made a landmark decision recently to recognise same-sex marriage from a legal perspective. This decision would have widespread consequences for those seeking to enter into a formal association and had particular ramifications in terms of immigration. Up until last year, an Australian citizen or resident would have had great difficulty in bringing their same-sex partner into the country with a view to long-term cohabitation, but this has now changed. Nevertheless, there are a number of important factors to take into account before such a process is put in motion. If you're in this situation, what do you need to be aware of?
To begin with, the government has put in place some additional restrictions that relate to security. They will now apply a character test to not just the incoming party but to the sponsor as well. This means that the Australian citizen or permanent resident who seeks to bring in their partner must also obtain a police clearance before the paperwork can be processed. If the sponsor had lived in countries other than Australia for more than a year when viewed over the last decade, then they must also obtain a police clearance from those countries as well. This information may take some time to gather, so it's a good idea to start the process as soon as possible so that all the data is present when the application is submitted.
This timely action is particularly important, as the immigration department has also changed the way that they process each partner or prospective marriage visa, due to the high volume of applications. They want to ensure that the application is as complete as possible and if they think that it is lacking some crucial background or specific paperwork, then they now have the authority to refuse without further notice. It is therefore crucial for both parties to gather more than enough information about themselves and their background in order to satisfy the regulators at first glance.
Once the legislation that changed the definition of same-sex marriage in Australia came into effect at the end of 2017, same-sex couples became eligible to apply for the prospective marriage visa, or subclass 300. If both parties are engaged and have concrete plans to get married, then this particular visa is available.
As can be expected, there are a number of additional rules and regulations along the way. It's important, therefore, to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure that there are no stumbling blocks along the way.