Australian partner visas, ie. the actual spouse visas themselves (Subclass 309 and Subclass 820), and the prospective marriage visa (fiancée visa, Subclass 300), require by law that the applicant and sponsor have met each other in person before they can apply for the visa. If they haven’t met, then by law they will refuse the application. There is no point in applying.
I think most people realise this. We at Down Under Visa get a few enquiries maybe once every few months where someone gets this wrong, but we only need to explain and they all generally seem to get it. And most have been to the Philippines and spent a reasonable length of time with their Filipina fiancée anyway.
Even if it wasn’t law, then it’s also commonsense. Regardless of how well you’ve gotten to know someone, you still need that physical presence just to be 100% sure. You’re listening to someone here who proposed to his wife-to-be over the phone before we had met (when she was an OFW in Hong Kong), but we still met up in Philippines as soon as we possibly could. Yes, I knew she was the one, and I couldn’t think of a single good reason to wait any longer. To this day I share all my thoughts with her, and I did back then too.
So yes, when we met we realized that we were definitely not wrong in how we felt. No nasty shocks for either of us. This happens, of course. Sometimes it doesn’t and couples delude themselves, but from what we can see I would say most couples whom we come across (and we come across a LOT of Australian Filipina couples) find their feelings are confirmed upon meeting.
The other issue? The issue of taking it all seriously, and showing some commitment to each other! How do you demonstrate a deep commitment to a relationship if you can’t spare some time to get your bum on a plane to meet the lady? Manila is about 8 hours away from most Australian cities. There are plenty of cheap flights available. It’s not expensive like Singapore to stay and get around. What does it say about your level commitment if you don’t visit her? What are you saying to her family if you won’t take the time to meet them and let them see who will most likely whisk their daughter away to a far-off land?
I know it’s not always easy. I work 25 hours a day and 8 days a week in a business, so I know how tough it is. But as someone wise said to me once many years ago, if something is really important to you then you WILL find the time, and you WILL find a way.
Our job is to help you to prepare a solid visa application that will be successful because you have a sound and genuine relationship which provides a sound and genuine reason for them to grant the visa. They have to watch out for applications that are shaky and weak, and that can include those from lonely and compulsive men who barely know a girl. Their job in the Australian Embassy in Manila is to guard Australia’s borders as Australians demand, and they don’t know you (or your girl or your relationship) from a bar of soap.
Haven’t met in person. What about tourist visas?
The same principles apply for Australian tourist visas. No, of course they don’t expect the same level of commitment for a tourist visa as they do for a partner visa. Most definitely not. However they do need to see that the applicant is genuine about wanting to visit you to enjoy and to enhance an already existing relationship. They want this because their job is to minimize the risk of her running off and staying in Australian unlawfully and contributing to the black economy by working for cash money somewhere.
They will be a whole lot more certain of the solidity of your relationship if you have put in the time and the effort to visit the lady here in the Philippines and clearly invested some of yourself in it. Unfortunately there are those try-before-you-buy characters out there who would like to order up a girl whom they’d been chatting to online for a few weeks, have a wild time for a few months, then send her back if she isn’t to their liking only to start all over again with a different girl. A bit like a human takeaway! Who can blame them for wanting to prevent this?
So if your relationship with your Filipina girlfriend or fiancée means anything at all to you, be sure to invest the time and effort and this will certainly show in your favour in any Australian visa application.