The cost of love is high in Australia, especially if your partner is from another country, with partner visa applications costing $7,000 …and that does not include the services of a migration agent.

Emma Drynan, Freedom Migration CEO, said many young couples in love are resorting to going into debt to go through the process.

“Instead of saving for a new home or travelling to see each other, couples are going to banks or borrowing from parents just so they can apply for a visa and get help to do the application,” she said.

“The troubling thing is, the $7,000 application fee doesn’t guarantee success, so the couple find themselves on the back foot from the start.”

Ms Drynan has seen visa application fees increase 300% in her 9 years in the business. Despite the process moving from a paper application to online, it is just as complicated. “The IMMI site looks user friendly but as you go through the process, it is complicated and convoluted,” Ms Drynan said. “So many people get confused. The assessment of a partner visa is very subjective, which is difficult for couples to understand”.

“The problem is in an effort to save money but understand how to go about putting their application together people then go to forums and social media to get help from well meaning people. Unless they are a migration agent, that advice can damage a couple’s application.

Ms Drynan said the Department of Home Affairs enquiry line is not there to assess over the phone if the couple should be lodging a partner visa nor are they there to teach people how to do the application. “Their primary role is to process and assess the application. So if you forget or miss something, in most cases it is too bad,” she said.

“If the application is refused or you have to do the application again. That is another $7,000 or nearly two years of uncertainty on appeal.”

It became obvious to Ms Drynan that once a couple found the $7,000 to apply for a partner visa, there was not a lot left over to secure professional help to do the application. To help people reduce their costs, she has created an online DIY service that takes people step-by-step through the application, reducing the risk of getting it wrong.

“On average, it costs anywhere from $3500-$10,000 to get an agent to do your application for you. That’s in excess of $12,000 all up,” she said.

“Partner Visa Academy may go ‘against the grain’ as migration agents would prefer couples use their services. But as I see it, if a couple can’t afford our services then it’s still important they have some level of support. Every aspect of the application is covered in video lessons, tips and how tos, how to translate and interpret documents, screenshots taking people through the process, how to prepare evidence, topics on each of the forms and pre-lodgement checks.

“You have to get it right from the beginning and this service will step you through how to do that.”

Partner Visa Academy will save couples thousands and potentially reduce the time the lovers are apart.

“If people get the application wrong, not only are they out thousands of dollars but a poorly prepared application can add years to the time the couple are separated,” Ms Drynan said.

“They have to put their life together on hold and live with uncertainty.”

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