After months’ of anxiety, stress and depression, our client’s permanent partner visa was granted after we were able to establish that she suffered family violence.
Our Client was on a temporary partner visa when she first approached us. She did not know that she was suffering from what we would professionally categorise as family violence and that she could still get her partner visa if she was a victim of family violence.
She had arrived in Australia for less than a year and started suffering from severe insomnia and depression as a result of marital issues including suspicion of extra-marital affair and emotional abuse. Given the current political situation in Hong Kong, she was also extremely afraid of having to return to Hong Kong if her permanent visa could no longer be granted if she were to separate from her husband.
After hearing her story, we advised her of her options. This included presenting a case that she had been suffering family violence perpetrated by her husband.
Our Client had been happily married in Hong Kong before her partner visa was granted and she moved to Australia permanently with her husband. Months upon arrival, her relationship with her husband deteriorated rapidly.
Because she is a new immigrant, she had not established her own support and social network in Australia causing her to suffer from serious mental stress, depression and anxiety as a result of her husband’s actions.
When she brought up the relationship issues and her suspicion of her husband having an extra-marital affair, her husband would deny and threaten her with her visa situation. She first approached our office feeling distressed and did not know what to do.
More importantly, she was not aware that what she was going through was family violence.
Difficulties with this case
The first difficulty of this case was helping the Client realise that she was a victim of family violence.
A misconception of family violence is that the person must suffer physical violence. That is not true. Family Violence includes emotional abuse, physical assault, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, social isolations, humiliation and other controlling behaviour. The premise for establishing family violence in partner visa cases is demonstrating that the person ‘reasonably fear[s] for, or to be reasonably apprehensive about, his or her own wellbeing or safety.’
Other difficulties with this case were:
- You cannot claim family violence to obtain the permanent partner visa until your relationship has broken down. In this case, the Client took some time to recognise that she was suffering from family violence and even though the marital relationship was in poor shape she was not ready to let go.
- As she did not recognise she was suffering from family violence, she had not seen medical professionals (or other professionals) as documentation that she had been suffering family violence.
- Family violence must have occurred whilst the the sponsor and the visa applicant were still in a genuine and continuing relationship. The possibility of an extra-marital affair may have made their relationship no longer an exclusive relationship which is one of the characteristics of a genuine and continuing relationship.
Throughout our engagement, the Client’s emotions were unstable but we tried our best to guide her step by step what she needed to prepare for us to build her family violence case. We saw that her emotional state improved gradually a the stress of her immigration status was being taken care of by us.
Finally, it took us roughly 1.5 months to prepare the evidence and legal submissions. In our legal submissions, we had to carefully treat the fact that there may have been an extra-marital affair but despite this the marital relationship was still genuine and continuing. We used some leading case laws to argue this.
After roughly 2 months, the Department made a decision to grant her with the permanent partner visa with no further questions.
If you are in a relationship with an Australian partner and feel that you may be suffering from family violence, you should contact a professional to assess your circumstances and to help you get through your difficult times. Do not let yourself be threatened. Book a Consultation
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