The digital age has changed the way we interact with other people. It has made communication and socialisation faster and more widespread.
As a result, many people meet friends from all over the world with the use of social networking sites. More particularly, netizens may find partners through dating sites. As a matter of fact, there are numerous success stories from our kababayans who have met Australians partners.
Unfortunately, not all people who find Australian partners and come to Australia with a Partner visa have success stories to tell. Some of them experience family violence which makes them wary of their visa status.
The Migration Regulations define the ‘relevant family violence’ as reference to conduct, whether actual or threatened, towards: the alleged victim; a member of the family unit of the alleged victim; a member of the family unit of the alleged perpetrator; the property of the alleged victim; the property of a member of the family unit of the alleged victim; or the property of a member of the family unit of the alleged perpetrator that causes the alleged victim to reasonably fear for, or to be reasonably apprehensive about, his or her own wellbeing or safety.
Under family violence provisions, family members include: people who share an intimate personal relationship – for example, married, de facto or domestic partners – whether or not there is a sexual relationship; parents and children, including children of an intimate partner; relatives by birth, marriage or adoption; people you treat like a family member – for example, a carer, guardian or person who is related to you within the family structure of your culture.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs statistics shows that only a minority of Partner visa cases comprise family violence claims. Many victims of family violence choose not to report their circumstances, and some of them opt to stay in an abusive relationship due to the fear of being compelled to leave Australia if their relationships end.
Sponsoring partners on Provisional Partner visas (Subclass 309 and 820) may misinform them on purpose regarding their immigration status.
As some women report, a violent or abusive partner informs them that they will be deported if they end the relationship, or that their children will lose Australian residency. This misinformation brings fear and uncertainty, causing the applicant to believe they have no choice but to stay in an abusive or violent relationship.
For this reason, the Australian Migration Regulations introduced the family violence exception.
The Regulations specify that family violence is one of three exceptions to the requirement of a ‘genuine and continuing’ relationship.
Applicants for permanent residences, whose relationship has ended, and who has suffered ‘relevant family violence’ from their Australian sponsor, may invoke the said exception and can still be eligible for permanent residence.
Victims of family violence need not stay in abusive relationships. They can apply for a family violence intervention order at the local Magistrates’ Court or call the police. Those who need immediate intervention can apply for an interim intervention order. Children may be included in this application.
The intervention order’s beneficiary is called the affected family member or the protected person. The person responsible for the family violence is called the respondent. An intervention order includes conditions to inhibit the respondent from committing family violence against the protected person.
If a respondent violates the conditions of an intervention order, he can be charged with a criminal offence.
Family violence is a traumatic experience for the affected family member, especially the children. Victims should not endure this for fear of being deported or losing residency. They can take advantage of the family violence provisions. It pays to understand the legal rights of anyone who is a migrant and resident in Australia.
For more information about becoming a permanent resident as a result of family violence, contact a reputable and experienced registered migration agent.