These visas (Sponsored Family Visit Visas) appear easy to obtain. The fee to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is only $135, you need only have a relative in Australia, a reason and some relevant identity documents – yes? No.
I have received countless calls from immigrant Australians upset, offended even, that there Sponsored Family Visit visa was refused. I feel their frustration. The news can also be devastating if the refusal means they cannot be with certain family members at very important times in their lives. I feel their devastation. I respond every time, “I’m sure the decision record stated it was a refusal based on ‘genuine entrant criteria’. I see this so many times I can even give you the clause number ‘600.211’.” “Yes,” they respond.
This is what will be written on the decision record:
The applicant genuinely intends to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose for which the visa is granted, having regard to:
(a) whether the applicant has complied substantially with the conditions to which the lastsubstantive visa, or any subsequent bridging visa, held by the applicant was subject; and
(b)whether the applicant intends to comply with the conditions to which the Subclass 600 visa would be subject; and
(c) any other relevant matter.
The applicant failed to meet the legal criterion in clause 600.211 of the Migration Regulations1994 as I am not satisfied that they intend a genuine visit to Australia
Really the word ‘genuine’ is so significant for this visa application, and many other types of visa applications that, no matter what type of documentation you provide, the entire application endeavour will fail should the case officer conclude that you, or your family member, is not genuine. How do we prove that a person is genuine? I will walk you through this with regard to temporary visa applications, more specifically the Sponsored Family Visit visa applications.
For any visit visa (Subclass 600)(Class FA) application the case officer must be satisfied that applicant will return to their country of origin before the expiry on a visit visa if granted. And to convince your case officer of this I need to give them as much detail as I can about all the reasons you or your family member have to return home. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Procedures Advice Manual 3 (PAM 3) classify this topic under ‘The genuine temporary stay requirement’ and directs the case officer to ask for evidence of ‘incentives to return to the home country such as evidence of financial, person and community ties’.
The policy implies that the case officer after having received an application, will ask for further evidence before reaching a decision. However under migration legislation the case officer does not have to ask for further information and usually refuses the visa if the applicant does not take the initiative to send this type of information with the original application. In preparing an application I go above and beyond, ‘overkill’ if you like, in obtaining every possible shred of evidence I can from your family to establish sufficient financial, personal and community ties, so that the case officer can only conclude that you or your family member to will be a genuine visitor. We do not want the case officer concluding that they are a potential overstayer, or a person who is ‘attempting to maintain ongoing residence’ by manipulating the visa system amongst other possible adverse findings.
Aspects of you or your family member’s life that the case officer must assess are listed in subheadings under ‘The genuine temporary stay requirement’. These are (exactly as written) :
- Previous visa compliance
- Intention to comply
- The ‘any other matter’ factor – (good grief!)
- Purpose and period of stay
- Previous immigration/travel history
- Intel reports and profiles
These are all assessed with regard to the Department’s ‘Risk tiering overview’. The higher the level of ‘risk’ the country of origin and applicant is determined to be the more scrutiny an application will face. “As risk tiering has no legislative basis, a decision to grant or refuse a visa based on the existence of risk tiering would be an error of law,” despite this you can be sure an application is facing a refusal if I cannot convince your case officer that you or your family member will be visa compliant/genuine.
Here is an extract from a submission I prepared for an applicant from a ‘high risk’ county. I use this information often and have also included it in submissions for the Migration Review Tribunal/Administrative Appeals Tribunal where I proudly claim a 100% success rate.
When taking into account the Applicant’s age, ties to family members and [high risk country], along with consideration of the following case law extract, a finding in the Applicant’s favour can be established. I refer to Migration Review Tribunal (MRT ) case number 1301924  MRTA 1549 (19 July 2013). This review of a refusal decision included reference to the grant of a Sponsored Family Visitor visa for the review applicant’s mother with [other high risk country] citizenship. I add that the MNRR report shows a similar higher rate for [other high risk country] and [high risk country] citizens. At paragraph 42 the Tribunal reasoned that the grant of the visa was based on the mother being “an older person with stronger family ties.” In view of the Tribunal’s reasoning I submit that, in the Applicants’ favour, much weight should be placed on the Applicant’s age, strong family ties and [high risk country]
What had happened in this case is a person came to me with a visa refusal. This person had prepared a Sponsored Family Visitor visa application on their own for their elderly mother. One of the many reasons for refusal was that the case officer saw that the mother would prefer to stay in Australia long term to be with her Australian Permanent Resident son and would therefore not be a genuine visitor. This wasn’t the case at all – she much preferred to live in her country of origin where she enjoyed an active social life and was a respected member of the community. My job is to show this to the case officer in every way possible.
I just love references to case law. I love them. I love searching for cases that have gone on to reach success at Tribunal and align with your personal situation. For example in the extract above I refer to case number 1301924 etc to show the case officer that an applicant, being elderly, can be more likely a genuine visitor because of their age. Another example, I saw a refusal decision with part of the reasoning based on the fact (essentially) that the applicant had not travelled to Australia before and therefore the case officer couldn’t assess if the applicant would comply with Australian visa conditions. Well I came right out with my weapon case number 1309955! That the Tribunal gave much weight to the fact the family member had complied with visa conditions for countries other than Australia.
The onus is really on you and me to show the case officer that you or your family member will be a genuine visitor. My tag line is ‘Where your story matters‘. I truly need to know your full story so I can present this to a Department case officer in the best possible light with regard to all the visa requirements. The case officers handle too many applications – I get that – I see that it is a hard job. Which is why I try to make it easy for them. In a covering letter I tell the full story as far as it is relevant to the types of assessment the case officer will make. I see that if I don’t tell the case officer explicitly (with evidence) that your mother is very happy and settled in her country that the case officer has every reason to think she may prefer to live with you here, for example.
I had intended to include in this blog more ways to prove financial, personal and community ties in the visa application but will save that for a future blog. Thank you for reading.