Meet the young lovers who have been waiting YEARS to start a new life together thanks to outrageous red tape – and there’s another 100,000 in the same boat
- 100,000 Australians are in a queue waiting for partner visas to get approved
- Britney Plug, 26, has been waiting two years to marry her Filipino fiance
- She has been forced to keep the romance alive on Facebook since COVID-19 hit
- A parliamentary petition is seeking to reform offshore visa processing
A McDonald’s manager who met her foreign fiance on Facebook is losing hope of reuniting with her partner because of bureaucratic red tape.
Britney Plug, 26, is one of 100,000 Australians now in limbo due to ‘the world’s most expensive and slowest’ partner visa approval process.
She applied offshore for a prospective marriage visa in February 2018, after falling in love with Filipino national Keno Gonzales, 30, over her computer screen from Perth.
A McDonald’s manager who met her foreign fiance on Facebook is losing hope of reuniting with her partner because of bureaucratic red tape
Britney Plug (pictured with fiance Keno Gonzales) is among 100,000 Australians waiting in a queue to have her partner’s visa processed so they can get married and start a new life together
The pair began talking on Facebook then took the romance to the real world, with Ms Plug travelling to see partner in the Philippines in April 2017.
But the last time she saw her fiance was in November last year and she has no idea when they will see each other face-to-face again.
‘We were told at first it would be 6 to 14 months, then 14 to 16 months. But things just kept dragging on,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We’re living in separate countries which is what makes this so hard.
‘We were advised not to even bother applying for a tourist visa as Keno is from a very low socio-economic background and would be considered a flight risk.’
So the star-crossed lovers are being forced to keep their relationship alive via Facebook messenger since they’re unable to travel for the foreseeable future.
Ms Plug said the entire process is putting an enormous financial strain on her, after the pair spent $10,000 on the visa application.
On top of this, after being assigned a case manager in February the timeline was pushed back even further when borders closed due to COVID-19.
She no has ‘no hope whatsoever’ about the situation resolving itself anytime soon with all partner visas being put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic
She now said she has ‘no hope whatsoever’ about the situation resolving itself anytime soon with all partner visas being put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Labor MP Julian Hill put forward a motion in parliament on Monday to call on the federal government to address the backlog of visa applications.
‘Australians love who they love, and it has always been part of modern Australia that people fall in love, marry people from overseas and build a life here,’ Mr Hill said.
He described the government’s processing as ‘mean and miserable’, saying constituents’ ‘desperate cries for help’ were among his most common complaints.
Mr Hill also accused the Coalition of setting a cap on partner visas, despite the fact this is illegal under the government’s Migration Act.
‘Right now, as we debate this motion, the lives of nearly 100,000 Australians are in limbo, desperately waiting for years for this miserable government to grant their partner visas,’ he said.
‘Australian couples are suffering, separated for years and hearts pining. Relationships are now stressed or broken as waiting times continue to increase.’
The Chair for the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Liberal MP Julian Leeser told parliament a ‘significant number’ of partner visas were granted in 2018-19.
That figure was 39,918.
‘I think that this indicates we actually have a high number of people successfully obtaining partner visas each year,’ he said.
He said coronavirus was having a significant impact on Australians entering the country themselves, and it wasn’t just potential new migrants who had been impacted.
But desperate couples unable to start new lives with their partners are hoping to overhaul the visa process from the ground up.
More than 8,000 people have signed a petition seeking to streamline the partner visa process, but 10,000 signatures are needed for it to be debated in parliament.
The closing date is Wednesday September 2.
Applicants want to see applications processed on a first come/first serve basis and applicants to be made aware of their position in the ‘queue’ and approximate waiting time.
‘The current offshore partner visa processing system – the world’s most expensive and slowest – separates Australians from partners, and children from parents, for up to and over two years,’ the petition reads.
The cost of applying for a partner visa in Australia is about $8,000 with an average waiting time of around two years.
The same visa in New Zealand costs an estimated $2,000 with applications approved within 13 months.
In the United Kingdom, it only takes around three months and costs around $2,700.