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With Partner Visas and Prospective Marriage Visas, there are certain golden rules which we simply can’t get around. These are some of the issues Down Under Visa face every week.

golden rules

The “must have met in person” rule.

This is set into law. Set in the regulations. You may say set in concrete, because there is no provision for waivers. If you don’t meet in person, you can’t successfully apply. It will fail.

So if you haven’t met in person, then get on a plane and go and meet her. The Philippines isn’t an expensive place to visit, nor is it too far from Australia. If you get a Philippine Airlines or Qantas direct flight, you’ll be in Manila in 8 hours. Flights are competitive and therefore fairly cheap. And in my opinion, you’ll understand her better after visiting her country. Visit. See how she lives. Meet the family. You’ll understand so much more if you do.

Other option is a tourist visa for her to Australia. Yes, she WILL need to return at the end. But at least you will have met and your relationship will go to the next level after spending a few months together. We’re happy to help you with that.

Sponsored a partner visa application before?

Not a tourist visa! A partner or prospective marriage visa. If you have, and the application was granted, there is a restriction on applying for another partner visa within 5 years of the first application. This is Regulation 1.20J, designed to stop what they call the “serial sponsor”.

And if you’ve sponsored twice before, then you can’t apply again. Two in a lifetime.

Now, this is not QUITE set in concrete, however for most people it may as well be. There is room to apply for a waiver of this restriction where compelling and compassionate circumstances exist, however they really DO have to exceptional circumstances. Missing each other, or hating to be alone, this is not exceptional. Let us know if you feel you have a strong case, but understand that most people don’t. And we have couples who simply need to wait several years before they can apply again. Tough, but those are the rules.

The “free to marry” rule.

Marriages in the Philippines, if done legally, are recognised as legal marriages in Australia too. If the applicant is still married, you can’t marry them again. You also can’t apply for a prospective marriage visa so you can marry them in Australia. Can’t be done. And saying “…but her husband ran off!”, or “….but they’ve been separated for x number of years!”, this means about as much in the Philippines as it means in Australia. Unless the marriage is legally ended, she’s still a married woman and therefore can’t apply for a marriage-based partner visa or prospective marriage visa.

Yes, it’s possible to apply for a partner visa IF a de facto relationship of 12 months or more exists.

De Facto Relationships

Applying for a partner visa based on a de facto relationship can only be done if you are and have been in a de facto relationship of 12 months or more BEFORE you apply. You can’t get a prospective de facto relationship visa, as they don’t exist. You need to be in that relationship first. Please discuss this with us.

Jeff and Mila Harvie – Some background
Defining “Tourist” for Australian visa applications


  1. john

    you said above “And if you’ve sponsored twice before, then you can’t apply again. Two in a lifetime.”
    what about sponsorships done before the regulation limiting to 2 was intertroduced(around 1992 i believe) i believe they are not counted?
    and if they are not i wonder why this is not stated in the partner migration booklet?

    • downundervisa


      Sponsorships from pre-1996 don’t come up very often. This is just a BLOG article. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive statement.

      I can’t speak for the Department publications. All I can say is that if everything was easily to follow by looking at the Department website, there wouldn’t be a migration agent profession.

  2. Dane

    I met my boyfriend in Sydney while on a tourist visa and after a month he followed me in Phil and things are going fine and he visited me again. I applied for tourist visa and it was granted again but I was thinking of our future together. My boyfriend had sponsored two girls twice. 2008 and 2011 but both of them didnt get PR because he withdraw their spouse visa before they become permanent. First was lasted for 6mos and it was arranged and second was 18mos due to the girl infidelity. So it was all bad choices but he’s honest to tell me that. So I have read the migration partner booklet but still would like to ask if its all counted? He already sponsored twice but our relationship is serious and we are committed to each other. Would like to hear from you and to know what you think about our case.Many thanks.

    • Jeff Harvie

      Please complete the assessment form on the site, Dane. Better to discuss in private.

  3. Chris

    With the 5 year gap ruling – is this based on when the visa was approved, or when it was first applied for?

    • Jeff Harvie

      The date of the sponsorship application


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