I met my now wife, Jane* in 2009 over social media. I was from the USA and she is Australian. I was a soldier overseas on my 5th deployment. I hit it off immediately with Jane and we started chatting daily as often as possible. Eventually, we made plans to meet each other face-to-face. Jane came to visit me in the USA for two weeks. We both realised, after having finally met in person, that our connection was real, something beyond the writing on our screens. After a few more visits from Jane, I proposed to her and she said yes!

I believed my departure from the US Army was finalised so I first got a Work and Holiday Visa to travel to Australia to be with Jane.

Applying for a Partner Visa by Myself

Once Jane and I established our lives in Australia we set a wedding date and we were expecting our first child. Whilst we were moving to a bigger apartment, which would suit a new baby, we also applied for our partner visa by ourselves without any help. Initially, everything went smoothly – we had good jobs, our lives were comfortable and we received confirmation that our partner visa was granted. Our first child was born and soon enough we found out we were expecting a second child.

When Everything began to go Wrong

We discovered a problem when we received a letter from immigration stating that our Second Stage Permanent Partner visa was refused. The reason for refusal was due to adverse information that the Department of Immigration believed should have been noted in the initial application. This adverse information related to my character background.

After being refused the right to remain in Australia we had 21 days to lodge a review with the Tribunal AAT. We contacted Migration Downunder to represent us but after lodging the review I also had to leave Australia to back to the USA to finalise issues relating to my character. What I didn’t know when I left Australia was that I would not be seeing my family again until 16-18 months down the track. This was a shock and every day after my departure from Australia was the most difficult day of my life.

It was the saddest day when my husband was forced to leave Australia. We didn’t know what was going to happen to our family.

This simple mistake cost us dearly, both in fees to cover the Australian Partnership visa, the resulting AAT review, legal counsel in the USA and representation here in Australia at the Tribunal and the Department. I spent 16 months back in the USA clearing my character.

AAT Hearing and my Permanent Residency

Migration Downunder represented us at the Tribunal review and won my AAT Hearing. They also represented me for the finalisation of my application with the Department of Immigration, successfully obtained a character waiver – which resulted in my permanent residency being granted.

I am now back in Australia, reunited with my two young children and my incredibly supportive wife, and we are now trying to claim back the missing 16 months. I only spent one month with our second child when I had to leave Australia but I am happy to say we are reunited as if we were never apart, but I will never forget this experience.

*Names changes to protect the individual’s identities

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