In this episode of the Journey to Oz Podcast we speak to Tuan and Anthony about their relationship and legalities of why Tuan had to return to Vietnam and wait offshore for his partner visa application to be processed. We also provide updates regarding international students, as well as the New Zealand and Singapore travel bubbles.
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Welcome to Journey To Oz. The podcast where we share migration stories from overseas to Australia. We are both registered migration agents, Nick who specializes in family visas and myself, Evan, who specializes in employer sponsored visas. Over the years we’ve helped many clients who have very interesting stories to tell.
Nick, can you give an outline of what you’re covering in today’s episode?
I spoke to Tuan and Anthony who met each other at work and became friends. They then later realized they were attracted to each other and commenced a relationship. They get pretty personal in this interview as they cover their experience of coming out of the closet as a gay couple to their families, as well as Anthony’s health issues, and Tuan having to return to Vietnam for around 18 months to wait for his Partner Visa application to be processed.
Tuan first arrived in Australia as the secondary holder of a Prospective Marriage Visa, after his father was sponsored by an Australian. Tuan was then the secondary applicant on his father’s Partner Visa application, but that didn’t play out as planned. After this interview we’ll go into more detail about the legalities of Tuan’s situation and explain in detail why he had to return to Vietnam.
But first, I asked Tuan about where he grew up.
I grew up in South Vietnam, so come from Ho Chi Minh City, so the big cities in my country.
And what about yourself, Anthony? Where abouts did you grow up?
So I’m a Tasmanian boy. So for those people in Australia who don’t class Tasmania that often as a part of Australia. But, yeah. So I’m from a little town in Tasmania called Devonport.
Grew up there most of my life.
When did you move to Melbourne?
So I moved to Melbourne in 2015, just due to work. So where I’m from there’s not a lot of work.
Yeah. So it was just more to move here to better my life.
And have you enjoyed it more since moving to Melbourne?
Yeah. So, I’m not a person going to the big city because I’m not used to it all, but it’s been enjoyable.
Yeah. Okay. Fantastic.
Now, Tuan, when did you first come to Australia?
I first come to Australia on August 2015.
With my father. Yeah.
And did you know much about Australia before you came to Australia?
Not really. Just see on website, YouTube of Australia and that one.
Yeah. Okay. So your dad just said okay, we want to go to Australia and live in Australia, or was the plan just to visit initially?
So, I’ll jump in there.
So Tuan’s father had a partner here.
So did they arrive in Australia on a Prospective Marriage Visa and then apply for an 820 Partner Visa?
Yeah. So with Tuan as an applicant, because he was under the age of 25 at the time.
And it turned out that she just abused the relationship, just for money.
So that’s all she wanted out of it, so she abused it. She didn’t say anything about it, and then she canceled the visa on them.
And then what happened after she canceled the visa?
So she didn’t say she’d cancel until I realized. So immigration sent me the email about the visa being canceled. That’s this letter, like I have for about 29, 30 nights/day to leave out Australia.
Right. Okay. So then what did you end up doing to stay in Australia?
Then I met some lawyer to ask about it because I have no idea about what the visa living here. Because my stepmother, she hold the document about it for my passport, everything.
Okay. So you went to, was it the Administrative Appeals Tribunal because of the Partner Visa cancellation? Is that what happened?
Were you successful when you went to the Tribunal?
No, it wasn’t successful.
So that’s when the lawyers got him and his father to apply for the Protection Visa.
Right. And then what happened with the Protection Visa application after that?
So currently, well, for his father, it’s still pending.
Right. So he applied for the Protection Visa. How long ago was that now? How many years?
It would have been probably back around 2017 ish, 2016 ish.
Okay. So it’s October 2021 now and they still haven’t made a decision on that initial Protection Visa application.
No. So it’s still pending.
Well, far as we know, because we’re not really in contact with his father.
Yeah. Okay. Fair enough. So how did you guys meet each other?
So we actually met each other through work. It’s a funny story. What happened was he was actually in his interview with my manager.
And I accidentally walked in on the interview. Now we had another Vietnamese guy at work who wasn’t very switched on or anything.
So, because I was standing behind, Tuan couldn’t see my reaction. So I was there standing behind saying don’t hire, we’ve already got one here. But he did get the job and my manager, just to be funny to me, he goes, “Okay, you’re going to train him.”
Oh, right. Okay.
So we got to know each other through that. Obviously we were with each other every day because I had to train him.
Then we ended up staying on the same workstation, got to know each other, and then one thing led to the other.
So Anthony, tell me how did your relationship develop from there?
So the relationship just over time. Because I was already curious, so I hadn’t come out at this time, but I’d just been getting that feeling I was attracted to him. He actually surprised me because I had no idea he was like that or not.
Yeah, he just kissed me out of nowhere.
Which, for me, that was very surprising.
I didn’t act on that at that time. I left it because obviously I had to think about it whether I was ready to come out or not, whether that’s what I wanted.
So then at work it was a bit awkward because he’s trying to talk to me. At that time Tuan’s English wasn’t very good at all. So, he has come a long way.
And when did you start living together?
So we moved in together in March 2019, I think it was.
And what was that experience like?
It was good because we got to obviously know each other better. So at that time we’d already been dating. We weren’t fully in a relationship. We were just dating at the time, just casual dates.
And then we moved in because we ended up relocating for work. So it was actually just down the road from where Tuan’s house was at the time.
So it was just ended up being a five minute trip to work.
So it was a lot more convenient living at his place then?
Yeah. So pretty much I was there most of the time. And then Tuan just asked me to move in because I was there every day, pretty much during the week.
Yeah. Okay. And then how did you come about to the decision of applying for a Partner Visa?
We’re going into pretty personal ground at the moment, but I’m happy to go into it. So around July I actually had a, well I thought, was just pulled a groin muscle. Well, what actually happened, so Tuan convinced me to go to the hospital to go and get it checked out. I was like, “Well, no. It’s just a pulled groin. It’ll come right.”
Yeah. Typical male.
Yeah. He convinced me to go to the hospital to get it checked out. They’d done some scans and all that. Turns out there was actually a tumor there, as well.
Growing on the back of a bone spur.
So for the next few months I had test after test, after test, after test. Tuan was very supportive there. Me, being a little bit of a bigger bloke and Tuan being a little bit of a smaller person. He helped me with showering, going to the toilet, everything I couldn’t do because I couldn’t put pressure. I couldn’t stand properly. I couldn’t walk properly.
So eventually we got the results back that it was non-cancerous tumor.
Thankfully. And it made me realize how supportive he was to me. I didn’t want to lose him.
So at that stage, because of his Protection Visa still pending he couldn’t work or anything so he was going to go back to Vietnam anyway.
It made me realize I don’t want to lose him, how supportive he’s been, how loving he’s been over that period. And like I said to him, I didn’t want to lose him, so let’s look at me sponsoring you. You being my partner.
So you decided to apply for the Partner Visa. Now, in my experience working with same-sex couples, the Partner Visa application process is often the first time that they come out to their family about their sexuality. How have your family accepted your relationship?
Yeah, actually my dad, he doesn’t accept about it to now.
But my mom, she’s all right with that.
What about yourself, Anthony?
Yeah. So my family already had a feeling that I was gay. When I come out they were like, “Yeah, we were already new.”
They weren’t surprised. They were very accepting of it. So when I took Tuan down to Tasmania my family were very welcoming to him.
That must have been really nice for you then, Tuan?
Yes. Because it’s denied to Vietnam culture. So they don’t like person like that in my country, so they don’t accept.
Yeah. It’s very common in a lot of countries, unfortunately. We’re quite fortunate in Australia that a lot of people are very open minded about it.
So at the time we started talking, you already had a cancellation of the Temporary Partner Visa and the refusal of the Permanent Partner Visa. And therefore you weren’t holding a substantive visa, which meant you a subject to Section 48 of the Migration Act.
Being subject to Section 48 doesn’t normally prevent someone from applying for a Partner Visa onshore. However, in your case, because you had a Partner Visa refusal since the last time you had entered Australia, the migration regulations prevented you from making a valid Partner Visa application onshore, so the only option was to apply for an offshore Partner Visa.
How did your father take to the news that you were withdrawing yourself from the Protection Visa application?
Actually, he didn’t know about it yet.
Oh really? He still doesn’t know.
Yeah. So, because we got the big fighting before that.
So I’m say, I’m going back to Vietnam and maybe I’m no going back in Australia.
We living separate from them.
Right. So he actually doesn’t know that you’ve been withdrawn from that application.
Yeah. He doesn’t accept the son like me, just because my sex.
Yeah. Okay. And Anthony, what was it like being in a long distance relationship once Tuan had returned to Vietnam?
Obviously, any relationship being apart is obviously very hard. And especially with Tuan having to return to Vietnam. Me, having to be in Australia, different time zones. At that time I was doing long hours at work just because I had to support Tuan as well. So sending money because he had no job in Vietnam.
It was very difficult, but we still managed to call each other every day, talk. It puts a lot of pressure on a relationship, but if it’s true love then you’ll make it work.
Yeah. And you actually visited Tuan in Vietnam as well. What was that like?
So when he first went back to Vietnam I went with him to meet his mother and his sister, which were extremely welcoming to me.
Okay. Oh, fantastic.
In Vietnam, it’s a very different culture.
It’s a big eye opener to what we have here in Australia. Overall, it was a fantastic experience, just seeing sites.
Did you spend most of the time in the Ho Chi Minh City area?
Yeah. So I went there again in July, but the first time it was mostly in Ho Chi Minh.
But in July I returned back there with my brother. My brother come with me.
Tuan’s family were very welcoming to him as well. That time we went around a bit, down to a little beach town called Ninh Chu.
Yeah. It was fantastic.
So you returned to Australia after the second trip to Vietnam, and eventually the Temporary Partner Visa was granted in September 2020. So, just to repeat. It was the lodged in May 2019. Granted in September 2020, so almost a year and a half. How much of a relief was it to find out that the visa had been granted?
Yeah. When I got the call that it had been granted it was a big weight off the shoulders. I was happy that he’s coming home.
Because now Australia is his home.
It was also very difficult because of the pandemic we’re in, trying to get flights for him to come back home.
Were the flights expensive?
Yeah. It cost nearly $5,000 just a one way flight.
In economy class?
So he had to fly through business class because that was the only way he could come in. There was no economy, so.
Oh, right. Okay. So $5,000 one way, in business class.
We booked through economy but it kept getting canceled, canceled, canceled, canceled. So then we went the other way. Got a fight from Vietnam to Singapore, and then Singapore into Australia, that way.
But every flight from Vietnam direct to Australia was canceled.
Right. Okay. It’s very common, unfortunately, during COVID.
So, Tuan, your visa was granted in September 2020, but when was it that you were actually able to arrive in Australia?
October. October. Yeah, next month.
Yeah. I’m trying to get the tickets straight away because I can’t wait to back here.
Yeah. Okay. And what was the two weeks quarantine like?
It was horrible. But I’m feeling I’m back to Australia, that’s I think why I’m feeling fine because it’s not big deal.
Yeah. Fair enough. It’s two weeks in the scheme of things isn’t that much.
What was it like being reunited with each other, Anthony?
Yeah, it was fantastic. Just being able to hold him instead of just looking at a screen, looking at him that way.
Because March 2020 I’d actually had more flights to go back to Vietnam to surprise him for his birthday.
Oh right. Okay.
That’s when obviously the major of the pandemic, the COVID, hit. It was a two week quarantine arriving into Vietnam as well. My whole trip would’ve been land, into quarantine and then back on a flight back out.
And then quarantine back in Australia.
And quarantine back in Australia. So I didn’t actually go. So it was good to have him back in my arms instead of actually looking at a phone screen.
And how have you settled back into life in Melbourne together?
So we’ve settled back in really well. We’ve actually just purchased our first house.
Thanks. Very thankful for Tuan’s mom. She actually gave us the deposit for the house.
We’re actually currently setting up our business, so we’ve purchased a truck. So we’re going to do deliveries, whether it be local or probably interstate driving.
Oh, fantastic. What sort of size truck is it?
So it’s a 14 pallet 12 ton truck, nothing big to start with. So it’s pretty much just anything, really. So in the industry that we currently work in, so we’re working in logistics, so we have a background in it.
That’s why we decide to go that way. Purchase a truck, try and build a business and better our lives.
Fantastic. That’s great. And we lodged Stage 2 of the Partner Visa application in June 2021, and the Permanent Visa was granted a few months later in September 2020, so just a few weeks ago.
So, Tuan, how does it feel to be a permanent resident of Australia?
Yeah, that’s a fantastic feeling because I feel like my life will change, then everything fresh and I can start everything from there. I can do whatever. I Can find job. I never have feeled that feeling before.
And do you plan on applying for Australian citizenship?
Yes, Of course. Yeah. I want to.
Yeah. Okay. Fantastic. Because I think we worked it out, that it was going to be four years from the day that you returned to Australia. So it’s still a couple of years away, but it’s not too far away.
Thanks for joining us today, guys. I really appreciate it. You’ve had a really interesting story, and thank you for sharing it with us.
Thank you, Nick.
No problem at all.
That was fantastic, Nick. And I really appreciate the honesty that your clients had, being able to open up to you when I think that really speaks volumes about the relationships that you have professionally with your clients as well.
Yeah, thanks mate.
So to clarify what actually happened, Tuan’s father initially came to Australia on a Prospective Marriage Visa, and then returned to Vietnam to get married. And then came back to Australia and applied for a Partner Visa in late 2015. Tuan was the secondary applicant. He was considered a dependent child on the application at the time. They were actually granted the Temporary Partner Visa a few months later. But then the relationship between Tuan’s father and his stepmother broke down and the Temporary Partner Visa was canceled, and the Permanent Partner Visa was refused.
So his father then appealed to refusal through the Administrative Appeal’s Tribunal, trying to claim that he was the victim of domestic violence. He appeared in the AAT in mid 2017, but then the Tribunal affirmed the decision not to grant the visa. He then tried for ministerial intervention, but was unsuccessful. So then his father applied for the Protection Visa.
So Nick, for the sake of the listeners, can you please explain why Tuan needed to apply for his Partner Visa from offshore, and he couldn’t apply for it while he was in Australia?
So Tuan was subject to Section 48 of the Migration Act, which basically says that if a non-citizen is in Australia and doesn’t hold a substantive visa, so any visa other than a Bridging Visa, Criminal Justice or Enforcement Visa, and since they last entered Australia they’ve had a visa refused or canceled under certain provisions, they may only apply for certain types of visas whilst in Australia.
So what types of visas can people apply for when they are Section 48 barred?
So they can apply for a Partner Visa, Child Visa, Protection Visa, Medical Treatment Visa, Bridging Visa and there’s a few other less common types of visas in there as well. As of the 30th and November 2021, Section 48 barred persons can also apply for certain state nominated and regional Skilled Visas, which includes Subclass 190, Subclass 491 and Subclass 494.
So Section 48 barred persons can apply for a Partner Visa on shore. Why did Tuan have to leave Australia and apply offshore?
So to give the legal outline of why, there’s a series of schedules in the migration regulations that outline certain requirements. So for example, Schedule 1 outlines the requirements for making a valid visa application, Schedule 2 outlines the actual visa requirements, and there’s a whole series of other schedules which we’ll run through in future episodes, when it’s relevant.
So in Tuan’s case, Schedule 1 for the Permanent Partner Visa states that if the applicant is subject to Section 48, they cannot have had a Partner Visa refused since last entering Australia. This applied to Tuan, even though he was the secondary applicant on his father’s Partner Visa application. So the only option then was for him to return to Vietnam and apply for an offshore Partner Visa.
Okay. Got you, Nick. That makes sense. And I understand you have an update from a previous episode for us as well.
Yeah. So I previously mentioned that the family sponsorship approval process may be changing in November 2021, meaning that the sponsor has to be approved before the application can be lodged. So the Department of Home Affairs have confirmed that this will not be changing yet, and have not given any indication as to when it will change. There’s also the possibility that when it does change, an English language requirement may be introduced for Partner Visas.
Yeah. Very interesting, Nick, particularly because such changes are going to make it a lot tougher for partners, as opposed to making it easier.
Moving on from the Partner Visa aspect, has there been any developments regarding international students returning to Australia? And if so, what can you tell us?
So the Australian Government will gradually allow international students into Australia, and it’s done State by State. So in December 2021, New South Wales will introduce a pilot program for international students. So the plan is to allow 250 fully vaccinated students to enter New South Wales per fortnight. This will be outside the current caps and will not affect Australian arrivals. The students will quarantine in a purpose built facility in Sydney. So Victoria is going to allow limited number of international students who need to do practical work, such is health, medical and post-graduate research students. There are plans to expand this more broadly using a staged approach, more likely later into 2022.
South Australia has announced that they’ll allow fully vaccinated international arrivals with no quarantine period once South Australia reaches 90% vaccination, which is likely to be in late December 2021. Queensland, ACT, Western Australia and Northern territory will commence allowing students to enter early in 2022, depending on those States’ vaccination rates. And Tasmania hasn’t made any specific announcements as yet.
Well, we’ve discussed Partner Visas, we’ve discussed Student Visas. Please tell me we have some news regarding international travel, in general.
So the New Zealand travel bubble has reopened, as of the start of November. And there’ll also be a travel bubble opening for Singaporean citizens on the 21st of November 2021, meaning that travelers do not need an exemption to enter Australia if they’ve spent more than 14 days in New Zealand or Singapore. Obviously travelers must hold a visa for Australia. Travelers must also be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, with a TGA approved or recognized vaccine. They must also test negative for COVID within three days of their scheduled flight to Australia. They will not need to quarantine if arriving in New South Wales, Victoria, or the ACT. Other States, they will still need to quarantine for the time being. They must also complete a travel declaration on the Department of Home Affairs website at least 72 hours prior to departure, otherwise they will probably be denied boarding. So, it’s really important to get that travel declaration done.
There’s also word from the Government that the Australian border will be opening in December for Temporary Work and Skilled Visa holders.
And we’ll certainly cover these updates in a future episode.
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The Journey to Oz Podcast is produced by Nick Hansen from Hansen Migration (Migration Agent Registration Number 1679147), and Evan Bishop from Worldly Migration (Migration Agent Registration Number 1679414).
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