For those that are preparing and lodging their own Australian partner visa application, one of the most critical and challenging documents that you will need to prepare is a statutory declaration. However, despite the challenge, you definitely should prepare and submit a statutory declaration with your application (or notarized or signed statements if outside of Australia).
Even though this is a critical document for your application, it is actually not listed as a mandatory document on the Department’s checklist. You will prepare this document to provide your case officer with an account of your relationship together, as well as explanations with regards to the supporting documents that you are submitting.
Below are my suggestions for preparing your own statutory declaration:
1) This may just be the most difficult part of the application to organize because the writer of the statutory declaration should have a good understanding of written English. Nonetheless, writing the statutory declaration is usually less of a daunting task than you imagine. When writing, you should always bear in mind that the purpose of this document is relatively simple – to provide your case officer with an informative account of your relationship. You aren’t expected to, and nor should you, write a long novel about your relationship. Target the four factors which your case officer needs to take into consideration in a very factual and objective way. Refer to the supporting evidence that you have lodged whenever possible. Using these basic principles will enable you to make a statutory declaration that will guide your case officer.
2) Write the statutory declaration in a factual and objective way. This means that you should avoid lengthy descriptions and subjective statements. Of course, there will be sections in your statutory declaration where it is appropriate to make subjective statements. For instance, it’s fine to use subjective statements within the -Nature of the persons’ commitment to each other’ part.
3) Wherever possible, the statements of fact which are made in the statutory declaration ought to be supported by the evidence that you’re submitting. By developing these kinds of links, you are demonstrating the accuracy of your statements. Guide your case officer by clearly labeling the supporting evidence that’s referenced and relied on (e.g. after a statement or a series of statements, write in brackets ‘Please reference documents marked “A” which support the statements made’ and tag the top of the applicable documents with “A”).
4) Whilst this may not be stated as one of the considerations that your case officer is required to take into account, I recommend that you should include a brief initial section (or sections) which describes the initial development of your relationship. You may want to follow this with a further paragraph that clearly outlines the duration of your co-habitation with your partner. The opening section which outlines the initial development of your relationship should provide a brief account (a maximum of two paragraphs) of how you and your partner met (e.g. name the location, date, event etc.). I also recommend writing a couple of sentences in regards to what you and your partner did on your first couple of dates before declaring the date that you as a couple made the decision that you were in a de-facto relationship. The aim of these sentences is to: 1) straight at the start, establish a context for understanding your relationship and 2) clearly state that the requirement that your relationship needs to have existed for a minimum of 12 months prior to the lodgement of the application is met.
5) The Department suggests that you address the time of your co-habitation under the consideration of ‘Nature of the persons’ commitment to each other’. However, I prefer to deal with this important point at the start of the statutory declaration, following the introductory section, rather then at the end. I also suggest that you keep these paragraphs brief, and that the information provided is chronological in order. This information can be given as a list or table, stating the address where co-habitation occurred, the date that co-habitation began (and ceased if applicable) then repeating these details again for your various addresses of co-habitation. For every address stated, include references to the documents that demonstrate co-habitation at that address. You can state the overall number of days or months of co-habitation at each and every address and then give a final total. This will plainly show that the requirement of a minimum of 12 months of co-habitation prior to lodgement of the application is met.
Prior to you finalise and swear your statutory declaration, proof-read it to ensure that the information presented is clear and easy to understand. Your statutory declarations should be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes. Nothing breaks up the rhythm of reading a document more than continuously coming across spelling and grammar problems. Obviously, a couple of mistakes is not going to make or break your application. But you should try and present the best application possible. Also, if your friends or colleagues cannot understand your statutory declaration, then your case officer has even less of a chance.
If you are interested in more information and guidance in relation to making an Subclasses 820/801 and 309/100 Australian partner visas, please see: http://myaccessaustralia.com/