Applying to migrate to Australia as a spouse


Image by John White Photos


I am not a refugee fleeing a war-torn nation.

I am not someone escaping extreme poverty.

I came to Australia, because I fell in love with an Australian (and he with me). And we just wanted to be together. At the time, Australia offered better prospects for us as a young couple than my native Singapore, so we began the process of my importation.

There’s a shitload of paperwork (and money) involved in applying for Australian permanent residency (PR). Thankfully the application requirements and process are clearly documented, and I had little issue understanding the requirements (that alone saved us a few thousand dollars in agent/lawyer fees), but the demands to prove our relationship is legitimate felt invasive.

Being somewhat conservative, we did not cohabitate and thus had no documentation to prove we lived together (cuz we didn’t).

Nor did we own any joint assets being fresh graduates trying to get started on life. So in order to prove our relationship, we had to provide letters, emails, photographs, declarations from Australian friends (our Singaporean friends didn’t count), travel receipts from holidays we took together, etc. I still shudder to think someone somewhere in the Australian embassy read our love letters, an unexpected peeping Tom to something so intimate – and often cheesy.

Under the visa type I was applying for, an English test (IELTS) was not required. I suppose if the SO doesn’t need to communicate to me in English, it doesn’t matter to the government whether I can communicate with the rest of the population. I am still shocked Singaporeans are required to take IELTS for other Australian PR visa types, when Singapore is a Commonwealth nation, and still adopts many British traditions from its colonial forebearers, such as:

  1. English as its first language
  2. Education system similar to the British, with milestone GCE exams marked by Cambridge University and the Ministry of Education.

If Singapore students can apply to Australian university courses without taking IELTS tests (a requirement for most other Asian students), I don’t see why IELTS should be required for Singaporeans applying for Australian permanent residency.

Friends who had gone through the PR process before were all quick to support us with advice through the entire process. It helped and also added more stress to an already stressful situation, because everyone’s situation is unique and you’re in a constant state of anxiety at possibly being rejected.

So for the people who are applying for PR because they wanna be with the person they love, the best advice I can give you is:

  • be thorough about the application requirements
  • be absolutely truthful in your application
  • be patient. It’ll be worth it.

A special mention to our friend Berry Travels who just got her application approved, congratulations and welcome to your adoptive home! You’re here to stay!