Changes to immigration regulations which came into effect this week have eased the burden for same-sex couples.
Same-sex couples wanting to migrate will not need to have lived together for 12 months prior to applying if their relationship is on a state-based registry.
The changes follow amendments introduced in July which opened ‘de facto partner’ visas to same-sex couples. Changes from September also lessened the burden for same-sex couples to show they had lived together for 12 months.
Alhough it is still a requirement to show cohabitation in most situations, couples can be exempted if there have been specific reasons for them not living together such as ongoing work commitments, or having lived in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Those couples must still show joint financial interests and proof that they have regular contact.
Couples based in the ACT, Victoria or Tasmania who have signed up to a state-based registry can now use that to bypass the need to prove 12 months of cohabitation.
The changes were “ a slight relaxation”, senior advisor for the Gay and Lesbian Immigration Taskforce and a partner at Taylor and Scott lawyers Lachlan Riches said.
“It is a very important development. It means couples who have one of the partners as a resident of Victoria, Tasmania or the ACT don’t have to prove the 12 months. They just have to prove they are in a genuine and ongoing partnership.
“The 365 days used to be pretty anal,” Riches said. “I always used to say to my clients, 365 days misery, 366 days bliss.”
He added that it may be viable for the Australian partner in some couples to move to one of the relevant jurisdictions for a year in order to take advantage of the developments.
“It shows a positive sign from the Federal Government, that they are serious about states enacting the relationship registers. So I certainly call on the NSW Government to respond without delay.”
info: For more information or for advice on same-sex immigration matters visit www.glitf.org.au