The Australian Immigration Process
How to Bring your Filipina Wife to Australia
OK, so you know she’s the one? What do you do now? I get some common questions asked of me all the time:
(a) Can I get a tourist visa for her?
(b) Can I bring her back with me?
(c) Should I get married over there?
First question? In short, it’s VERY difficult to get a tourist visa for an average person from the Philippines, because they believe there is a high risk of her overstaying. Unless she’s rich, has a great job and owns significant property, they often view it that she has more reasons to overstay in Australia illegally than she does in returning. And the reality is that your letters promising to take care of her will not prevent her from doing a runner if she so chooses. If you don’t have some solid evidence to prove otherwise it’s generally a waste of time and money to even try the tourist visa route. Plus, the refusal will remain on her Departmental record and may cause difficulty with a legitimate fiancée/spouse visa later. (And no, she really DOESN’T need to come to Australia to “see if she likes it”. If she truly loves you, she will be happy wherever you are.) That’s the bad side of it! However if you are in a stable relationship and can prove this, then in the hands of visa specialists like Down Under Visa, the outcome is normally much better than this. In fact we have an excellent strike rate. If you DO have good reasons, ie. if you are not divorce yet or if she is still legally married, then sure why not? And if you’re not quite at the commitment stage and feel you need some more time together, then again we can most likely help you. Just be aware that if you are more ready than you think you are, and you have to put her back on a plane at the end of 3 wonderful months together, you’re going to kick yourselves for not applying for a partner visa instead!
The answer to the second question is NO, you cannot. Despite stories you may hear (and you will find that everyone is an expert!) about some no-nonsense chap who marched into the Embassy, demanded a visa for his wife, and got it……it just doesn’t work like that. 30 years ago? I have no idea. But these days (if it EVER worked like that) it certainly does not.
There are laws in place which govern who comes to Australia and who doesn’t. Never assume that marriage to you turns a girl into an instant Aussie. Within the realms of the Marriage Act (ie. you can’t marry your sister, or a child, etc), you may marry anyone. But you don’t have an automatic right to bring her home. No one enters Australia without a visa, and visas are only issued when somebody meets the criteria set out by the Migration Act of 1958 and the Migration Regulations of 1994. Meet the criteria, and they must give her a visa. Do NOT meet the criteria, and they have no choice other than to refuse the visa. It’s the law. And the Migration Officers of the Australian Embassy in Manila are charged with administering that law. So you get nowhere by making loud “I’m a taxpayer, so I pay your salary” demands at them!
On the second question? The answer is a definite maybe! It depends! It depends on whether you’ve been there before. It depends on how experienced a traveller you are, how mentally-flexible you are, how much of a sense of humour you have, and how much time you have on your hands! Let me explain:
The Philippines is a Third World country. It’s not Hawaii or Norfolk Island. On my first trip many years ago, I was struck dumb with culture shock! I’d travelled to India years before, and I SHOULD have been more prepared, but I really wasn’t. The heat struck me. The taxi drivers pounced. The traffic, the crowds, the poverty and the general chaos, it knocked me for a six. The sense of humour eventually cut in, but as for my ability to meet a girl, meet her family, and organise a wedding? Not a chance!
And apart from all that, you get a 30 day visa automatically on arriving in the Philippines. If you want to stay longer, you have to apply for an extension of your visa. And you have to give 10 days notice from when you apply for a marriage license to the day you get married. And there are other requirements which require trips to the Australian Embassy too. You really should have a month ahead of you if you want to have a reasonably stress-free marriage. And you really should have met the girl first…..preferably on a previous trip.
So basically if a client asks me which way he should go, I will always point out that it’s easier to apply for a fiance visa and to marry her here. And my emphasis increases if he’s never been to the Philippines before! Go there. Meet her. Meet her family. See how she lives. Enjoy yourself!
However, remember that it’s a joint decision. If you’re a gentleman, you should discuss this all with your bride-to-be. As Perry Gamsby points out in his books (which you all should be considering buying, as they are great value and full of knowledge) she may have her heart set on a wedding in her local Church, walking down the aisle on the arm of her dad. So you may decide to have a second trip, and/or to stay a bit longer. Or a compromise may mean a wedding in Australia, followed by another one in the Philippines with her family!
From an immigration point-of-view? It really doesn’t matter very much. It takes around the same length of time. And we can help you with either method. There are:
(a) Spouse visas (for those who marry in the Philippines, or anywhere overseas),
(b) Fiance visas (for those who wish to bring their lady to Australia and marry her in Australia)*, and
(c) there are even Defacto visas (for those who have been living together in a permanent relationship……which includes same-sex relationships)
(d) Were you hoping to make things simple and apply for a tourist (visitor) visa for your girlfriend or fiancee to visit Australia so she can marry you and stay? Do you believe this will be easy and simple? Please think carefully before you do this, and please read the article HERE
(e) Or were you planning on visiting the Australian Embassy in Manila To discuss and/or apply for a visa? Think again! The days of Embassy staff helping with applications and advice are long gone. You need an appointment to get in, and you won’t get an appointment for anything to do with visas. Don’t waste your time!
*Note well! For a FIANCEE VISA, both parties must be free to marry. If you need to get a divorce, then get it over and done with now! You can’t apply based on a pending divorce. For her, it gets a bit more complicated, however it can be done. You just need to be patient.
We will not be discussing the preparation and processing of visas here, as to do so would be irresponsible. It’s too complicated to generalise about, and broad “how long is a piece of string?” advice will certainly get you into trouble.
And do yourselves a favour and avoid the online “do it yourself” migration forums. I check them out occasionally, and occasionally contribute to a few of them, and sometimes find myself correcting some appallingly incorrect advice by those armed with a little knowledge. There are sound reasons why only registered professionals may give migration advice by LAW in Australia, in the same way as your friends can’t prescribe medicine for you either. The Australian immigration process is best undertaken with professional help.
Use a Migration Agent, or do it yourself?
A fair question, and one you need to decide for yourself. As a Migration Agent, obviously I think you should use a Migration Agent to do the processing for you. And truthfully I will tell you that with practically every one of our clients we are there to stop them from doing at least ONE silly thing that would have either resulted in an instant refusal, or at the very least caused them some headaches. You take the stress and the risk out of the process by using a professional, and given the importance of the issue (ie. does your wife come and join you, or does she get stuck in the Philippines for several more years or maybe forever?), the extra cost is very small.
But the decision is entirely up to you. You do not HAVE to use an agent, and are free to prepare your application yourself. If you do, I would only warn you that Manila is a notoriously tough port to deal with, and they have a very high rate of refusals.
And for goodness sakes, avoid NON-registered agents. In Australia, by LAW, Migration Agents need to be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority, and our bound by a strict Code of Conduct. In the Philippines there’s an “agent” (aka opportunist) on every corner, bound by no Codes whatsoever. And every travel agent will happily take your money and have a go at it themselves.
Online migration “advice” chat-style forums?
I visit internet forums sometimes, and I’m frequently appalled by the wacky advice given out by people with 10% knowledge and 90% confidence. I don’t even bother trying to correct this advice anymore, because the 10%-experts will only argue with me. And those asking for the advice are usually trying to apply for the visas by themselves…….trying to save a bit of money, and dicing with their future happiness! We haven’t had a single visa refusal yet….whilst I watch in horror how many nightmares people make for themselves, and extra years they add to their waiting time!
It is actually illegal for non-RMA’s (Registered Migration Agents) to give migration advice, and this includes these online forums. In the same way it’s illegal for amateurs to give legal advice or medical advice. Imagine if I was casually posting what antibiotics or blood-pressure medication an unknown person should take? Tragic consequences could ensue! This is no different. Just because somebody was lucky enough to get a visa through by themselves does NOT qualify them to give advice to nameless others on a website. If you ever visit one of these, look at how many failures and sad stories you see?
Think carefully before you gamble with future happiness and security. Don’t entrust your future to a stranger online who calls themselves “luvsfilipinaz”.
If you would like to know more about us (Down Under Visa) and our services, please check our site here.