Recently I asked a regular reader of this website what else she would like to see me write about as she expressed how helpful she had found other articles I had written.
She responded, on Why do I do this?:
In my humble opinion, I think the Statutory Declarations and Relationship Statements would be good. I, myself found that a lot of people don’t know what to write. When I sat down the other day and wrote my Relationship statement, I started writing and didn’t stop, because I kept thinking I should put this in or that, or what if they ask me about this and it just kept going.
My husband on the other hand is even more direct than me, he kept it simple and to the point.
I also receive a LOT of search terms seeking examples of Statements of Relationship, so given Yolanda’s request, here are my thoughts. As usual, I must remind all readers I am not a migration agent and these articles DO NOT constitute formal or legal advice. If you have any concerns about aspects of your application, you should seek professional advice. My articles are merely intended to assist those trying to understand the bureaucratic paper warfare and point to references that may be useful!
This article also does NOT necessarily apply to arranged marriages. I have no idea how a Statement of Relationship for an arranged marriage should be approached. Also, this article is about the statements for the initial application, NOT the Statutory Declarations for the second stage processing (the final grant of permanent residency, sub-class 100).
While I have mentioned the Relationship History before, in Applying for a Partner Visa? (Suggestion Number 2), I haven’t gone into a lot of detail. The reason I haven’t is because every relationship is unique. What I wrote about my own relationship would be entirely irrelevant for Yolanda’s relationship, for example.
If seeking a template, that is easy to discuss, so let’s get that out of the way first!
Statement of History of Relationship of
Fred Jack SMITH and Sally Jane SMITH
This statement is made by Sally Jane Smith of 99 Brown Street, [Suburb] [State].
We first met on [date] ………..
[Write the rest of your history – see below. Remember to make it readable – paragraphs, punctuation, white space.]
Signed this ____________________ day of ______________, [year]
Sally Jane Smith
If you are submitting the Statement as a Statutory Declaration, there are Statutory Declaration templates on the web. Google is your friend, so they say!
First, let us define “relationship”. What exactly are you writing about? I have found people do not read the detail OR do not understand the detail due to English not being their first language. I know of one couple who thought “relationship” meant only the time between meeting and getting married. They had mentioned NOTHING about their life together and having children! While I am reasonably sure DIAC would have figured it out in this case as two children were included in the application, this rather major omission could have delayed processing of the application considerably while the confusion was sorted out. You are writing about the period of time from when you met to the time you submit your application.
The DIAC website gives the following outline:
You and your partner must each provide a statement or statutory declaration regarding the history of your relationship, including:
- how, when and where you first met
- how your relationship developed
- when you decided to marry or to start a de facto relationship
- your domestic arrangements (how you support each other financially, physically and emotionally and when this level of commitment began)
- any periods of separation (when and why the separation occurred, for how long and how you maintained your relationship during the period of separation)
- your future plans.
The statements written by you and your partner can be on ordinary writing paper or a statutory declaration form. Each statement or statutory declaration must be signed and dated by the person who wrote it.
DIAC refer applicants and sponsors to the Partner Migration booklet, which provides more detail about the sort of evidence required to support the overall application. Look, I’ve given you the link, click on it! Read the damn thing! Is this visa important to you or not? Do these statements properly!
The statement and the evidence are linked, really. This article is not about the evidence, I am writing only about the statements! Your statement is your relationship in your words, the evidence you provide will support what you have written about. Use that evidence list as an indication of the sort of things you can write about in your Statement, even though you will provide formal documentary evidence of each of each piece of concrete evidence (such as property owned in joint names). I do think the detail in the booklet is very good. It expands on each of the categories to give specific examples of the type of evidence the decision maker is looking for in order to be convinced you are in a “genuine and continuing relationship with your partner“. In the current booklet, the examples can be found on pages 39 and 40. I strongly recommend you print the details out and tick off the items on the list as you collect your information! If you do have legal representation, being prepared will save you professional fees.
DIAC is asking you to write about EVERYTHING really, but specifically looking at four broad categories for evidence of a genuine relationship:
- ﬁnancial aspects;
- the nature of the household;
- social context of the relationship; and
- the nature of your commitment to each other.
Note that DIAC say: “All relationships are different, so you should provide as much evidence as you can that you believe will support your claims.” DIAC recognise that not all relationships are the same. DIAC do not expect the same evidence from every couple. In fact if DIAC received the same evidence from every couple, it would seem awfully like just copying from the last couple, wouldn’t it!
How, when and where you first met
This seems to throw some people. “When” doesn’t mean you have to have a date and time! Maybe you met as members of the same social circle well before you became an “item” and while you may know you met ” in early 2009″ you have no idea exactly when. If that is the case, say so. Don’t make up a date because you think you need one. When you get interviewed, one of you will forget the date you made up! You might do it with the best intentions, but it is not a sensible thing to do. Write the truth, whatever it is. “We originally met when I joined XYZ Club in early 2009. Fred was already a member. At that time we were merely members of the same club. Over time we developed a friendship……”
Ladies, ladies, ladies – remember this too. This is a generalisation (before all the men hit me), but men are just not as good as women at remembering dates. Having said that, I am TERRIBLE!!!! Unless the man in your life can be guaranteed to remember your wonderfully romantic anniversary date at the drop of a hat, best not to tie it down, even if YOU do know the damn date!
If you are both the type of people that the date you met is very important to you, the sparks flew, the bells rang and you have the date tattooed on your heart, by all means include the specific date! If you asked me right now the date we met, I couldn’t tell you. Things like that just aren’t important to me. I know it was a Friday early in January – was that the 8th, 9th, 10th? I’d have to check a calendar!
How your relationship developed
That should be the easiest part! Pretend you are telling your best friend you haven’t seen for a while about how you got together with the great partner you now have. Men, you can leave out the bragging bit.
I think you are really supposed to know each other’s birthday dates, even if you forget all the others! DIAC can be pedantic, I understand, about things like that.
When you decided to marry or to start a de facto relationship
To me, this is a bit like the “when did you met” question. Unless you remember a wonderfully romantic weekend away to a tropical island when he proposed (I had a co-worker who did just that), again you may not have a specific time in mind or remember the date. It maybe a case of you suddenly realised you hadn’t been home to your own house for a month and perhaps you’d better rent it out or give up the lease or something. Again, don’t go attaching a specific date to something if you aren’t 100% positive about that date, but certainly explain how and roughly when you ended up deciding to marry or start living together.
In some relationships it just seems to happen, in others a formal discussion and decision take place.
If you are already married, of course write about your wedding. Who attended? Describe the day. Did you have a honeymoon? Write about it.
Social context of the relationship
This is actually well described under the evidence section of the booklet. For example, “evidence that you and your partner are generally accepted as a couple socially (for example, joint invitations, going out together, friends and acquaintances in common)”. Write about going to friends for dinner, being invited as a couple to weddings or christenings, work gatherings and so on. Include certified copies of the invitations in your evidence pack.
Are you joint members of any organisations, clubs, gyms etc? Write about it (and provide certified copies of your memberships).
How well do you know members of your partner’s family? This may be very little, if you are overseas and haven’t actually met the in-laws yet, or they made a flying visit for your wedding. Write what you can – family involvement is important.
Have you travelled together? Write about it. Include evidence in your evidence pack: boarding passes, itineraries, photos of you together on that hill top in Spain.
I haven’t gone into everything it is possible to write about here. Read the booklet and work out what is appropriate for YOUR relationship.
Your domestic arrangements
DIAC are looking for you to tell the decision maker how you support each other financially, physically and emotionally and when this level of commitment began. Note the word “physically”. A celibate relationship is not likely to qualify for a partner visa unless there is a darn good medical reason. If you think I am joking, let me tell you I was asked the direct question during our appeal hearing, “When did you first have sex?” I have no advice how you handle such a sensitive topic and personally, I still think the department has no right to know and I didn’t say anything about it directly in my Statement of Relationship. I’m simply sharing my experience for your consideration!
It also means who does the ironing, who cooks, who hangs out the washing and does the vaccuming. If you have kids, who drives them to school? Who helps with the homework?
Talk about any property you own jointly, joint financial arrangements. If you don’t have any, explain why not. I read of a young women who could not open a joint bank account in her partner’s country because of the laws of the country. DIAC are not so unreasonable as to expect you to have something that it is just not possible to get due to local laws. You may not have joint bank accounts, but you may well be able to prove or at least describe how you each contribute financially.
If you are young and met each other travelling the world, as young people do, you may have no joint property because you haven’t yet returned to Australia to buy any together. Explain that. You may NOT be young! I know of a couple who married in their later years, after meeting up again in later life. You may keep assets separate because of children from previous marriages. That is very common these days.
“Emotionally” can be a difficult aspect to write about. How did you feel if you were apart? Do you share you day when you come home? Does he wipe away your tears when you are homesick? Does she bring you breakfast in bed when you have the ‘flu? For goodness sake don’t all write that just because I used it as an example. What do you think DIAC will do if they receive 20 applications all talking about the ‘flu? I’m illustrating, not writing your statement!
Any periods of separation
Periods of separation can be for any number of reasons. Just explain them clearly. Perhaps there was a sick parent back home and you had to be apart for a while. Maybe there was a work opportunity that just couldn’t be passed up. Maybe one of you had a visa that expired and had to leave.
If you haven’t had any periods of separation, say so.
Your future plans
Well, what ARE your future plans? Have children? Set up a business? Buy 100 houses? Set up a medical practice in the country?
I don’t know, only YOU know what your future plans are. You need to show you have some! Write about them!
My Statement of Relationship was six pages long. Is that the “perfect” length? I don’t know, but if I was a decision maker I’d be inclined to think if a statement was TOO short it would seem a little insincere. Too long might look like trying too hard! Only you can make a decision about whether you have covered all the aspects DIAC are looking for. Also, the length will depend on the length of your relationship. Clearly talking about a six year relationship might take a bit longer than talking about a twelve month relationship! I tend to think quality wins over quantity though!
DIAC add a note at the end of the category list: “Providing only statutory declarations from your and your partner’s parents, family members, relatives and other friends is not normally sufﬁcient to evidence your relationship.” In other words, you need something more that just a pile of statements!
Above all else, just be honest about your relationship. You will probably be interviewed. The questions may involve what brand of camera your partner owns, but will certainly cover the contents of your Statement of Relationship. If you have been 100% honest, your interview will be easy. Don’t write stuff because you think it sounds good, or you think it is what DIAC want to hear. What DIAC wants is the truth and evidence to support your application. Evidence that shows you are in a genuine and continuing relationship.
Clearly if you meet the three year criteria that is pretty good evidence in and of itself. It is those couples who have not been together that long who must ensure they can demonstrate the genuineness of their relationship. I draw this conclusion from the following:
However, you may be granted a permanent visa without having to wait if you can demonstrate one of the following:
- at the time you apply for the visa, you have been in a married or de facto relationship with your partner for three years or more
- at the time you apply, you have been in a married or de facto relationship with your partner for two years or more, and there is a dependent child of your relationship
- your partner was granted a Protection visa or a permanent visa under the humanitarian program and you were in the relationship before the visa was granted and this had been declared to the department at the time.
Note: Generally, you should be living with your partner in a married or de facto relationship at the time you apply.
Good luck! Remember, if you have any doubts about any aspect of your application, seek professional advice!
Since this article was originally written, on-line applications have been introduced. A preliminary update can be found at UPDATE: Partner Visa Subclass 309/100 Applications. A subsequent, more complete, update written by a reader has been published at Online Partner Visa Applications – Subcalass 309/100.