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This is one of the common scenarios we deal with at Down Under Visa. Clients contact us wanting a partner visa, yet they are not married or maybe they can’t legally marry because they are a same-sex couple. Or maybe one or both of them are still married and there is no pending divorce or annulment in the system? And in these cases they are not living in a de facto relationship right now. Regardless of the reasons, they are not in a position to apply immediately for a partner visa, and of course I let out a silent sigh. I know they’ll be disappointed. The best is when I can say “Yes, we can help you right now”. But in cases like this, no I can’t.

you cannot get an australian partner visa if you are not divorced or annulled, unless you are in a de facto relationship and/or a registered relationship

Options for couples who can’t marry right now

There is only one reasonable and realistic visa option for Australian Filipina couples who can’t marry yet wish to apply for a partner visa from Philippines to Australia. That option is to apply for a partner visa based on a de facto relationship.

The issue is that you must be in a de facto relationship right now. It’s not about getting a visa so that you can start a de facto relationship. You need to be in one now, and you need to be able to prove that you are living as a committed couple leading a shared-life.

But what do you do if you want to be together right now?

You accept the fact that you can’t! So take a large dose of patience, and read the next bit.

How long do you need to be in a de facto relationship before applying?

12 months!

Can this be reduced?

Yes and no!

Some states (QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC and TAS) allow registered relationships through the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. SA, WA and NT don’t.

And whilst QLD, NSW and ACT allow you to register the relationship if just one of you is living in that state (ie. one partner can still be living overseas), VIC and TAS insist on both parties being resident in that state.

I think we’ve already explained well enough in other BLOG articles that you don’t need to necessarily be together for 12 months non-stop. You can have gaps in that time where you are apart for unavoidable reasons (such as not having a visa), so it’s not necessary to try to get a 12 month tourist visa to be together. You won’t get one anyway. But you will be out of luck if you try to get a registered relationship in VIC or TAS.

And the big one? If either of you is still married and not yet legally divorced or annulled, you can’t register a relationship.

But if you can, you can reduce the 12 months down to 6 months.

Just note that this is not a substitute for evidence. Even if you have this nice, shiny certificate saying you have an official Registered Relationship, you still need to prove not only that you have an established relationship as you do with any partner visa, you also have to prove that you are leading a shared-life. The registering bit is just part of it. It doesn’t mean you have everything you need.

Establishing a de facto relationship. Who can help?

Well, Down Under Visa can. That’s one of the things we do, and we do have something to offer in these situations. Not a quick-fix, sorry. But it would be dishonest and misleading of us if we did. You have to be in an established de facto relationship when we lodge the application or the visa will be refused.

We have our De Facto Planner modules, which (along with our guidance) are available to ensure you have everything in place. Because living together is not enough! Just having someone living in your house doesn’t mean you are in a de facto relationship, even with them sharing your bed.

You need to be able to demonstrate clearly and without-doubt that you are leading a shared-life, where you have combined your personal affairs and where you think and act as “we” instead of as “me”. And you have to do this more extensively than you may normally do if you weren’t applying for a visa, because you need to be able to show yourselves in your best light. If you go to court, you wear a suit…..right? Well, the Case Officers are “the judge”, so you need to show yourselves in your best possible light. So you “put on a suit” to your relationship, and let them see exactly how committed you are to each other. Nothing fake. Just show yourselves at your best.

We can help you to do just that. We can help you to prepare your lifestyle to show your commitment to each other, so that once the 12 months (or 6 months) is up, we can prepare and lodge a partner visa application for you.

So all is not lost! If you do get an assessment from Down Under Visa saying that we can’t help you right now because you are not in a position (right now) to apply for a partner visa, with a large dose of patience and a firm resolve yes we can normally help you in the future if you follow some sound and experienced guidance.

Is the Philippines dangerous to visit?
Testimonial from partner visa holders, Chris and Liza


  1. Darren Crosby

    Hi Jeff. Just got back from Cebu after spending 2 weeks with my girl I have known over the net for 2 years. We are committed to an ongoing relationship. Can I now establish we are de facto even though we can’t live together yet? We are both still legally married pending annulment and divorce. Also can I get her a visitors Visa for her to visit Australia at the moment? Any help would be appreciated as being apart is very painful. Kindest regards, Darren.

    • Jeff Harvie

      Complicated scenario, Darren. I’m sure we can help you though, but will take some work and some patience. Could you please complete our free visa assessment form on the website? I can then get back to you.

  2. Ms. Evangelista

    Hi Jeff,

    I’m a Filipina, got here in Oz through tourist visa last September 2016. Stayed here longer to study on a student visa until now. Me and my partner, have been together for that whole time I’be been here (since I’ve landed in Oz). Problem is, he is still legally married but he and his ex-wife have been working on their divorce (just a little too complicated since they were married in Morocco). Anyhow, I got pregnant and we are planning to do Fiancee Visa so I can stay and not having to go to study (especially because I have a baby on board). Do you think we’re eligible to apply for Fiancee Visa? If not, how about De Facto relationship Visa? Thanks very much!

    • Jeff Harvie

      I think you have a complicated situation, and you need a professional to help you.


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