If you have applied for Partner visa (subclasses 100, 820 or 801) and you have or are facing family violence, please do not stay in your relationship out of fear of losing your visa. You are still eligible for a grant of your visa based on a special provision for those who are facing family violence
In our last article we discussed:
- How family violence is determined
- Who eligible victims are
- The requirements are depending on the visa subclass that you have or are applying for
- The evidence that you will have to present to the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA)
In this article we will expand on what happens should the DOHA find issues with non-judicially evidence provided so you know how to make a better application.
How does the DOHA determine if the evidence is sufficient?
- If the claimed conduct meets the definition of family violence and if it has resulted in the person fearing for their wellbeing and safety
- If the applicant has provided credible information, which holds more weight than provided the required evidence, for example, medical and/or psychological reports
- If the information is ambiguous and it is not clear if there is an allegation of family violence
- If the conduct of the alleged perpetrator was not toward the applicant, whether there is sufficient evidence as to the alleged perpetrator’s abuse toward the alleged victim (member of the family unit)
How does the DOHA determine if the evidence is conflicting?
- Previous unacceptable evidence
- Dismissed or lost court cases
- Information within the evidence such as the statutory declarations from professionals conflict with each other or with the partner’s statutory declaration
- Other information provided, or statements made, by the applicant and/or the sponsor that conflicts with each other
- Information provided by third parties
- Information obtained during the course of visa assessment, for example:
- Following a Bona Fides Unit home visit
- The length of time applicant and sponsor have been in the relationship or living together in Australia does not match up to evidence or requirements
- The length of time spent apart
- The length of time after the alleged family violence that the applicant lodges their claim of family violence
Sequence of events
If the sponsor contacts the DOHA quickly following the end of the relationship to withdraw their sponsorship but the applicant does not and it is only after the DOHA informs them that their sponsorship has been withdrawn that they contact the DOHA with claims of family violence. It is always important to keep the DOHA informed of any changes and to be upfront with them. Inform the DOHA as soon as your relationship has definitely ended and if there was family violence, please do not hold back on providing that detail even if you are not ready to submit your evidence in full.
Content of information
If the content that is provided to the DOHA mimics the DOHA definition of family violence or sounds otherwise clinical, the DOHA may have reason to suspect that the claims are not genuine. Provide proper and truthful details of the family violence in your own words instead of trying too hard to give evidence to exactly match what you believe the DOHA needs to see.
Psychologist, social worker and counsellor opinions
Should letters or statutory declarations have been provided by a psychologist, counsellor of social worker, the alleged victims history should also be taken into consideration. Has the alleged victims been under treatment for an amount of time and has there been evidence of family violence that has occured before?
Small inconsistencies or conflicting details are natural and the DOHA understands that the situation you are in is an incredibly stressful one. However significant gaps or conflicts in evidence will lead the DOHA to further questions. In such a case they may request for further evidence or may request for an investigation by an independent expert
Referral to an independent expert
The DOHA will not unnecessarily refer cases to an independent expert. They will notify the applicant if they are doing so.
The department will only consider the independent expert’s opinion at the time of decision. This means that new information can be submitted at any time up til the time of decision. For example, an independent expert’s opinion on the case is that family violence has not occured. The applicant has been given an opportunity to respond but the independent expert’s opinion remains unchanged. Further evidence is given, prior to the time of decision. The independent expert may change their opinion to be supportive of the alleged victims claims. In providing further evidence, the applicant should be able to provide new information that includes a recent change to the applicant’s circumstances or more evidence that was not previously provided. In such a case, the independent expert will make a further assessment. A repetition of evidence previously given would not be sufficient.
If at the time of decision, the independent expert’s opinion is that family violence has not occurred, the application is likely to be refused.
Have you suffered from family violence and are worried about your visa? Spend some time consulting experienced agents who can point you in the right direction and help ease your stress.