What the same sex marriage postal vote could mean for immigration law

Same sex marriage and immigration

Like most Australians today, we are lifting a glass (of water) to the announcement that the results of the marriage equality survey are finally in. Not only did we get an emphatic yes to such an important (and overdue) social change, but with such a strong turn-out it really gives no room for a view that the vote wasn’t representative. Let’s hope that whatever bill is legislated to reflect the change, it doesn’t remove discrimination protections which already exist.

Turning to how all of this will affect immigration law, we will have to study the design of the amending bill to comment.  Currently Australia’s Marriage Act 1961 only views marriage as being something between a man and a woman.  However, if same sex marriage is introduced, the likely effect will be how same sex partners are classified for member of the family unit purposes.

In that regard, we currently categorize same sex relationships (even when married overseas) as de-facto partner ones. By amending the Marriage Act 1961 to capture a same sex relationship, this will ensure that any spousal relationship is capable of being categorised in that capacity and not forcing married couples to go through at times more onerous requirements than a spousal applicant otherwise faces. 

Other than that, the sky hasn’t fallen in and we can all go about our business again in knowledge of the fact that our wedding industry is now probably an even better investment opportunity

What can you do if you have already lodged a same sex de-facto partner application?

If you have already lodged something, you might not be affected by the change as much of the legislation results in a categorisation of an applicant’s status at the time of application – although this depends on the visa being applied for.

Should I wait until the bill is passed to lodge my same sex partner application?

Maybe – this depends on what your evidentiary claims are like. Whether it’s on de-facto partner or spousal grounds, you still need a lot of evidence to support your position. There are sometimes additional criteria for de-facto partners to satisfy. If you can’t meet these, there could be some merit in waiting.

I’m transgender – could I be eligible for a partner visa?

Of course – the question with a partner visa doesn’t go to your status in terms of the spectrum of your gender identity. It goes to who you are in a relationship with and their gender. A lot also goes to whether you are pre-operative or post-operative as this currently has a bearing on whether you can enter a married relationship. Those changes will happily become less of an issue with the passing of the relevant bill as marriage will finally be capable of occurring between same and opposite genders so it’s not so much whether you can marry – it’s more like it will become a technical issue in terms of how you identify on any notice of intention to marry.

At Timpson Immigration Lawyers, we are proud of Australia’s diversity in its many forms and take great pride in this regardless of who you are.  

Contact us today for a confidential discussion about how we can help

[email protected] Phone: 07 3166 9100

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