Fiancee visa application process: prospective marriage visa
Subclass 300 visa - Offshore visa
An application for a subclass 300 prospective marriage visa must be initiated from outside of Australia. Those who are already in Australia, on a non-immigrant visa of any type, cannot apply to change their immigration status to fiancee visa from within the country. All immigration forms and supporting documents must be submitted to the appropriate Australian Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over the fiancee’s country of normal and legal residence.
Processing times vary greatly between the various Australian Embassies and Consulates. The waiting time for the Australian visa-issuing posts to process a subclass 300 visa application generally ranges from 4 to 10 months, depending on the current backlog of pending cases. Besides, the time it takes to hear back from any Embassy generally depends on whether the application is deemed "clearly approvable" or requires further administrative review, investigation, or additional special clearances. We have seen subclass 300 applications approved by certain Embassies within days of initial submission. For example, the Australian Consulate in London, England can process a straightforward fiancee visa application in one week, while the Australian Embassy in Moscow, Russia can take up to 10 months to process a case.
Many factors, such as inaccurately completed visa application forms, a lack of basic supporting documents and essential documentary evidence, the need for additional investigation, and personal interview requests, may influence the processing of individual cases dramatically. These factors typically double the normal waiting time for visa approval, and sometimes, the case is returned to the applicant for resubmission. It should be noted that regardless of whether the fiancee visa application is approved or rejected, the application processing fee is non-refundable.
Each application for a subclass 300 prospective marriage visa is adjudicated on an individual basis. A migration officer will review the application to determine whether all basic requirements are met and the applicant is eligible for a subclass 300 visa. If the application is not "clearly approvable", the fiancee may be required to appear for a personal interview with the adjudicating Embassy officials, or a decision may be reached on the application at any time on the basis of the available documentation and without any further request to provide additional information. Depending on the overall complexity of the case, an Australian sponsor also may be called for an interview. If personal appearance of the sponsor is not possible, the Embassy may conduct a telephone interview.
Subclass 300 visa interview
The interview is the most important part of the fiancee visa application process. The fiancee and the sponsor must convince the Embassy that their relationship is genuine, ongoing, and that they both sincerely intend to get married and live together in Australia. The foreign fiancee must demonstrate that she is requesting a prospective marriage visa for romantic reasons and not solely for immigration purposes. If the migration officer who interviews the applicant finds any discrepancies between her responses to the many visa interview questions and the supporting documents she presents, the case may be forwarded to the fraud prevention unit for further investigation. Statements made during the interview will help the adjudicating officer make a determination of eligibility.
There is no set time for fiancee or marriage visa interviews. The migration officer takes as much time as she or he needs in order to reach a decision. Straightforward applications can be handled in 15 - 20 minutes. More complex cases can take from 30 minutes to two hours to resolve.
It is not uncommon for fiancees who aren't prepared for the interview to be nervous. Because of apprehension, she may answer one or more of the questions incorrectly, which can greatly increase the processing time or lead to initial denial. For this reason, it is important to prepare thoroughly for the subclass 300 visa interview.
Subslass 300 visa approval
If the migration officer recommends the case for approval at the time of the interview and there is no request for additional documentation, the fiancee should have her passport and visa delivered by courier shortly after the interview. In some cases, however, the Embassy may need additional time to review all the paperwork submitted with the initial application and during the interview in order to make a final determination as to whether the applicant is eligible for a prospective marriage visa.
Once the case is approved, the Embassy must advise the applicant of the date by which she is required to enter Australia using the subclass 300 visa (known as an initial entry date). If the fiancee does not enter Australia by the date specified, her prospective marriage visa will automatically expire.
The fiancee visa is valid for nine months from the date of issue. Once in Australia, both the visa holder and the sponsor must submit a joint marriage visa petition to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) offices.
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