A Successful Offshore Partner Visa Application That Took Almost Four Years To Be Granted

This is the Australian migration journey of a woman and her three young children who have spent most of their lives in refugee camps, moving between their home country Liberia and Ghana.


For privacy purpose we have kept the sponsor and applicants name anonymous and will be referring to them as the following:

  • Sponsor: John
  • Primary Applicant: Sarah
  • Dependent 1: Bell
  • Dependent 2: Robert
  • Dependent 3: Kenny

Background Story of the Partner Visa Applicants


  • John originally arrived in Australia as a refugee in 2005, eventually received his permanent residency and became an Australian citizen
  • John’s wife, Sarah, adopted Bell as her own daughter from her sister who passed away in childbirth. This was a customary adoption as there was no legal process in Liberia at the time
  • Robert is John’s son from a previous marriage
  • Kenny is Sarah’s son from a previous marriage
  • Sarah, Bell, Robert, and Kenny were all in refugee camps, moving between Liberia and Ghana
  • All three children are under the age of 16 years old

Where Did the Partner Visa All Start?


Their Australian migration journey started in June 2015 when John applied for an offshore Partner visa (subclass 309/100) for his wife and three children by himself. It was not a smooth road as one could hope.


Within a couple of months, the Department requested for DNA testing of the children to prove their relationships with John and Sarah. Unfortunately, the DNA checking center made a mistake by swapping the DNA results between the children and their parents. Without knowing the results were incorrect, John submitted the DNA test to the Department in response to their request.  On 23 August 2016, the offshore Partner visa for all applicants was refused due to PIC 4020. The Department could not identify that John is Robert’s biological father, Sarah is Kenny’s biological mother and that neither Sarah or John is Bell’s biological parent. For this reason, the Partner visa application was refused on the basis that they had provided bogus documents or information that is false or misleading.


Appealing the Partner Visa at the AAT


Knowing that this information was incorrect, John took the refused Partner visa application to appeal at the AAT. In September 2017, John appeared before the Tribunal to provide further evidence and present his arguments. Taking into consideration all documents provided as well as the Sponsor’s background and whereabouts, the Tribunal requested for the second round of DNA testing to be carried out. This time the DNA results came back correct. Sarah and John were able to positively identify their direct relationships with Robert and Kenny.


As for Bell, there was no reliable evidence to prove that Sarah is Bell’s biological mother (despite Sarah’s name appearing on Bell’s birth certificate). The only proof at the time was that Bell’s biological father had given Sarah full custody after her mother passed away. However, along with other factors, the Tribunal took into consideration that there were no legal adoption provisions available in Liberia at the time Bell was born and, Bell has no other family other than Sarah who she considers as her own mother. For this reason, the Tribunal accepts that Bell has been part of the family since she was born, and Sarah has been caring for her as her own daughter.


On 28 February 2018, their Partner visa appeal was successful, and the Tribunal remitted the case back to the Department for further processing.


More Requests and More Waiting for the Partner Visa Applicants…


Hoping that this would be the end of the wait and that soon, he will be reunited with his family in Australia, John was again faced with another obstacle. There were more requests and more waiting…


On 22 March 2018, the Department issued a Request for Further Information (RFI) for a number of documents including new health examination, new police checks and court documents proving that Bell has formally been adopted. John again responded to the request and provided all documents accordingly to support his offshore Partner visa application.


Pro Bono Partner Visa Case for the Applicants and Her Children


On 21 May 2018, John booked our free Partner visa consultation and came to see us in person. John was hoping that we could do something to speed up his family’s subclass 309 application process. As all requested documents were already submitted, there was nothing that we could have done at the time. We advised John that if he had provided the correct documents as per the Department’s RFI, his family’s Partner visa application should be decided soon.


A couple of months later, the Department issued a Natural Justice Letter stating that the adoption papers were fraudulent, again citing PIC 4020. On 6 September 2018, John came back to see us again seeking our assistance to respond to the Natural Justice Letter. As John was not able to afford us to represent him in full as his Immigration Lawyer, during the free Partner visa consultation, Kris reviewed his files and guided him through what needed to be done to confirm that this Decree is genuine in nature.


Kris advised that the possible solution to this is simply to disprove the Department’s claims that the Court’s Decree of Adoption executed on 20 Feb 2016 by Justice [anonymous] in Liberia is fabricated/ fake. Kris also suggested John go back to his archives of documents and find correspondences and application forms for the adoption as well, to strengthen his claims that the adoption was formally and officially done.


In addition to the above guidance, Kris also observed that the “Invitation to Comment” (or Natural Justice) letter issued by the Department is ‘faulty’ in that it was missing various key components, such as the number of days that John was given to respond etc. Kris suggested that John contact the High Commission using their email and request for a new copy to avoid future complications.


Due to the time difference between Australia and Liberia, having a friend of a friend acting on his behalf to visit the Court’s Decree of Adoption in Liberia, as well as, not being able to know exactly what is happening in Liberia (as there were no written prove), a week later, the distressed Sponsor came back to see us again for assistance.


As we were familiar with John’s situation and given all the information provided to us, we agreed to take on John’s Partner visa matter on pro bono.


Since this time, we have assisted the Partner visa Sponsor and the following steps were taken:


  • Contact the Monthly & Probate Court in Republic of Liberia that was responsible for the adoption to enquire;
  • Contact the Liberian Centre for National Documents & Records Agency National Archives, to confirm that the adoption was in fact documented and verified
  • Communicate the Australian High Commission in Nairobi Kenya, to ensure that the Clients were given adequate time and consideration to ensure that all issues were resolved

We have found that the Liberian courts have made an error and hence the Partner visa Applicant was issued the adoption papers that were defective, which were unknowingly tendered for their Partner visa application.


We hence resolved the issue by obtaining the correct documents and a letter from the court clerk and had the original documents forwarded to our office.


Not only just a migration agent, but as an Australian legal practitioner and Public Notary, Kris Ahn (Acc. Spec Immigration Law) have inspected the documents and certified them, before tendering it to the Department with a detailed legal submission.


After 3 and half years of going back and forth, on 9 January 2019, the Department of Home Affairs granted ALL the applicants their offshore Partner visa.


Take Note

The Applicants suffered due to the mistakes made by a DNA testing center and a judicial court!

AND due to their mistakes, which were of course outside of the Applicant’s control, unfortunately, they had suffered financially and also especially for them, each day was a risk in the refugee camps.

We commonly see mistakes being made by the Department of Home Affairs, and if mistakes and error are inevitable, it can be managed.

We could not be happier for our clients and their three young children!

Welcome to Australia!

Contact Us

Crux Migration (also known as Agape Henry Crux) can help guide you through the entire Partner visa application process and help you prepare all documents involved, ensuring that documents meet requirements before we lodge your application. We can represent you from start and until a decision is made on your application.


You can book a consultation with us so that our immigration lawyers can assess your eligibility and tailor your application in accordance with your circumstances.




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