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‘We can’t plan for our future’: Couple in marriage limbo with visa but no travel pass

“They’ve spent almost two years verifying that we’re in an ongoing, genuine relationship,” she said. “Are they going to refund the money, do we have to go through the whole two-year visa process again? What happens? I mean, I’m nearly 47. We’re not young people.”

Home Affairs processes the visas while Border Force is in charge of travel exemptions.

The government extended the visa period until the end of March 2022 for people who held prospective marriage visas between October and December but were stuck outside Australia. It has also extended the visa validity period to 15 months, from nine months pre-COVID, although Ms Clayton said she and Mr Ambuso hadn’t been told why his visa runs for only 12 months.

Border Force says for travel exemption purposes, only spouses, de facto partners, dependent children and legal guardians are considered “immediate family”.

“Unless there are compelling and compassionate reasons to travel to Australia, fiances (including holders of prospective marriage visas) are not exempt from travel restrictions, as they are not immediate family members,” a Border Force spokesperson said.

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“[The government] continues to monitor the situation and review the settings for various visas, including the prospective marriage visa, to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and minimise adverse impacts on visa applicants and holders.”

A petition asking for overseas-based parents of adults living in Australia to be considered immediate family for travel exemptions garnered more than 70,000 signatures last month.

Separate data from Border Force, reported in this masthead, show just 8 per cent of applications for travel exemptions on compassionate grounds were granted between August 2020 and March 2021.

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