"I Do" Till Citizenship Do We Part
When people realise that we are in a bicultural marriage typically the first assumption made is that we are in an arranged marriage. Particularly because my husband happens to be of Indian descent and I am Caucasian. When I use the word arranged I don't mean the traditional Indian arranged marriage whereby your parents mutually agree to your future bride or groom when you are born. Rather I use it in a sense that your marriage is purely a business arrangement for mutual gains. Whereby you are both benefiting from the marriage till such a time as you part ways. Such as receiving a lump sum payment in exchange for a green card.
This is what many people assume of our relationship in India, although I didn't realise this was the case at the time I lived there. Typically it is other Caucasian's who make that assumption. Is it really that difficult to believe that my husband and I are in a loving relationship but rather believe that we are in an arranged marriage. It was only when I asked my husband why do so many men, whether they be neighbours or friends of friends, keep messaging me. Particularly since I barely know them and my husband doesn't have a close relationship with them either. That's when he explained to me that many people either assumed or still do assume that we are in an arrangement rather than a love marriage. Which means that they keep in touch with me in the hopes that I may also help them with citizenship.
What they don't realise is that it is next to impossible to actually fake a marriage and have Australian Immigration approve your citizenship. Although the stories online about America are quite the contrary which may cause some of the misconceptions. During the year 2017 a total of 1,212 visa's were cancelled in Australia due to character. Out of those 1,212 less than 100 were due to fraud and out of that total only a mere 14 were of Indian nationality. So as you can see very little partner visas that are fraudulent are approved. Based on experience it is challenging enough to gain citizenship based on a genuine marriage to then even consider pulling off a fake marriage in Australia. Which makes it interesting that anyone would even believe that our marriage is for mutual gains.
Obtaining permanent residency for my husband has already taken approximately 22 months in total from when we submitted our application. That doesn't include the time we took to compile the application prior to making a submission. Nor does it include the remaining period of time till he receives the final approval. Proving your relationship is genuine for a partner sponsored visa is very time consuming and most definitely stressful. It is not just about submitting your life story or compiling photos of you together. It is so much more detailed than that.
Essentially you need to collate all and any evidence that can prove you are in a genuine and loving relationship. This may include copies of phone bills that show a history of all the phone calls made to one another and the length of time spent on each call. Or text and internet conversations if you aren't a couple that communicate via phone much. Additionally any copies of receipts for getaways that you have taken together, including hotel reservations, receipts of activities attended together and so on. For those that reside together then a copy of the rental agreement in both names is a must. Plus any receipts of gifts that you may have bought for one another on special occasions or just as an everyday gesture of your love for one another. Also if you do live together then copies of receipts for household goods that you may have purchased together for your current living arrangements. In addition if you are married you will need to submit as much evidence from your special day as you can, not just your certificate of marriage. This may include receipts from any bookings or reservations made for the venue, caterers, honeymoon and so on.
Most importantly you need to ensure that you both have a social presence in the community and are known by others to be in a committed relationship. Therefore you need to be able to prove that you spend time together in such ways as having memberships to a gym together. Or being able to provide statutory declarations of friends or family as witnesses as to how they know you as a couple and how they interact with you both. Including their opinion as to whether your relationship is genuine and loving. Or perhaps any invitations received to attend mutual friends or family events such as weddings or birthdays.
Additionally you need to then provide photos together and they need to be authentic. Body language in photos is a dead giveaway especially if you both look like you couldn't care less to be spending time together. They also can't all just be selfies, you need to be able to show that you have a social presence in the community. This is where you can provide evidence of the holidays you have taken together, your wedding day, the social functions you attend together with friends and family and basically anything that can prove you both are seen to be in a genuine and loving relationship. Lastly you do still need to both submit essentially what is almost as good as a biography of your lives together in the form of a statutory declaration.
Should you both happen to be in a long distance relationship then the challenge is even greater. It helps if you have both travelled to spend time with one another during the time you are apart. However other than that you would need to keep records of any conversations, letters, care packages, receipts for gifts and anything that can prove your relationship. I lived with my husband and his family in India for a year in total which certainly enhanced our credibility.
Now that is just the part of the process that you and your partner are responsible for submitting. Once your application has been reviewed you then need to be able to pass an interview. Not all candidates are required to undertake one, it just depends how strong your application is. Therefore you and your partner must know all the ins and outs about one another that a normal couple would know. There are no set questions so you simply cannot know what they will ask you. Nor do you know when they will interview you. My husband received the call that someone will be interviewing him at his family home with only minutes to spare. They asked questions essentially based around all the information that I had declared in my statutory declaration. Such as how we met, where we lived, who my friends and family are, and other general questions about our relationship and myself that a partner would normally know. He was then asked to show any photos that I had sent him and our online conversations on his mobile. Luckily I was fortunate enough to not have to undertake an interview.
So as you can see it is next to impossible to fake a marriage merely for the purpose of gaining citizenship in Australia. Anyone who has gone through the process of sponsoring their spouse would concur. For those that think they can potentially lie to their future spouse for the purpose of divorcing them once they receive citizenship. Let me tell you that living a real committed relationship anywhere from two years onward with someone you don't love is impossible. It's difficult enough going through the process with someone who you do love unconditionally without having moments where you think you might not make it. Simply because the stress of the whole application process is enough to test even the most committed couples.
I'd love to hear your stories for those who know anyone that has successfully managed to say I do till citizenship do we part. Leave your comments below (only available via desktop view)
Or are you a couple that are also mistaken for being in an arranged marriage? Did it take you and your spouse a long time before obtaining citizenship?