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The Australian Tourist Visa – A pretty generous visa, of great value when you are in the early stages of a relationship, and you want to spend time together in Australia with your Filipina sweetheart. This is when you’re not ready to commit to something permanent. Neither of you are completely certain that this is definitely “the one”, but you like each other (or maybe even love each other) enough that you want to see where it’s going. A couple of weeks together in resorts, hotels and family homes in the Philippines isn’t quite enough. You want to see how you go waking up next to each other in your suburban house in Newcastle or in Rockingham every day for three months and see if at the end of that time you can’t stand the idea of being apart.

Three months is a pretty good stay period, isn’t it? And a multiple entry tourist visa means you can repeat it a few times. Most couples have a fairly good idea at the end if this is what they wanted. Some? They email me after 6 or 8 weeks and ask how we can make this permanent? Some take the plunge and get married! Others? Some realise how wrong they were, and are glad they got a tourist visa instead of making a terrible mistake! For most people, three months is just enough time! 


Tourist visas are not for long stays and for living in de facto relationships, and multiple entry tourist visas are not one year visas

Together, yes. But not permanently!


The One Year Visa

Others? They complete one of our free online visa assessments, and they ask me for a one year tourist visa. Someone asked me for a two year tourist visa the other day. I’ve done a number of BLOG articles in the past about this topic, but people still ask. So I find myself writing again and trying to explain why this won’t happen.

Tourist Visas are for visiting…..and then returning. They are for people doing tourist things, ie checking out the Harbour Bridge, patting koalas and getting sunburnt on our glorious coastline. They are also for people visiting friends and family, and that includes Filipinas visiting handsome Aussie blokes (which, of course, is ALL of us!) to build and enhance relationships. Perfectly acceptable. The keyword is “visit”! That’s why tourist visas are also called “Visitor Visas”.

And the Department* are sticklers for visa grants matching the purpose for which they were designed. Their pet hate is applications which are not “Genuine”. Student visas for people who want to work. Work visas for girls wanting to stay with boyfriends. And visitor visas for those who want to set up house together and live in de facto relationships. There are Partner Visas designed for that, and if you are actually committed to living together as a couple then that was what you were supposed to have been looking at.  *Department of Home Affairs, aka Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, etc etc

Remember what I said about about how three months should really be enough for a couple to figure out if this person is “the one”? Well, yeah. I believe that to be true. Still not 100% sure she’s the one? Can always apply for an onshore tourist visa (ie NOT an extension of the existing visa, because that doesn’t actually exist!) and get another three months. That should be enough. Does it take a year? Honestly, what uncommitted couple goes and commits to a one year stay together? “I like you a lot, but I don’t actually know that much about you. Let’s live together for a year!” Seriously? I think we both know what you’re trying to do!  


Is a Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa a One Year Visa?

No. No, it’s not! Yes, in years gone by a multiple entry visa was often mistakenly treated as one and many got away with it. Visa-holders would spend the weekend in Singapore and then return again for another three month stay. Well, times have changed and as with most things they’ve got tougher rather than softer. If they think you’re using a multiple-entry tourist visa to live together as a de facto couple, they will come down on you like the proverbial tonne of bricks! They may let you in with a warning that if you do it again your visa will be cancelled, or they may even stick you on a plane back to Manila with a cancelled visa to your name.

I did an article the other week on this topic (ie multiple entry visas). Please read and please understand. If you get a multiple entry tourist visa from Manila? Plan on visiting two or maybe three times. Don’t push it or it will come back and bite you! Return within three months, and don’t return again for a month or more. No hasty returns. Again, if you can’t stand being apart for a month then you’re probably on the wrong visa! Yes, I know they’re expensive (ie Partner Visas), and they are also a whole lot of work. But nothing good comes easily, and life was NOT meant to be easy!   


Been together in Australia for a year. Then what?

This is assuming you managed to dodge the Border Force welcoming committee and you managed to spend 12 months or near-enough in Australia on a multiple entry tourist visa, and you’re wondering what happens next. We have many couples who’ve just finished a 12 month visa stint together in Australia, and want to do it again. They ask me for a second “12 month visa” or “one year visa”. And I’m not so encouraging, because I know exactly how the Department will look at it.

Visitor Visas in the Migration Regulations have a Condition 8558 which may be imposed. It’s not quite mandatory, but they are imposing it enough these days that it may as well be.

Condition 8558 is a visa condition that does not allow a visa holder to stay for more than 12 months in an 18 month period.

So count back eighteen months. Have you been inside Australia for twelve months in that time? In reality, don’t expect to enter Australia again until 18 months after the first visit where you can start afresh, and don’t expect to spend another one year together! Don’t be too surprised when they probably grant you a three month single-entry stay! Not sure it happens anymore, but it years gone by it was fairly normal for a nice Immigration officer to tell a tourist visa applicant quite directly that they’ve had enough and that they need to start looking at a partner visa if they want to spend any more time together. You CANNOT cannot cannot spend year after year on tourist visas, because that’s not what they were meant for!

Get a partner visa! Some of the nicest people I know got one! I even got one for my lovely wife years ago, and I still wake up next to her!    


Free online visa assessment form from Down Under Visa
Jeff Harvie is a Registered Migration Agent from Australia, but resident in Philippines since 2010 with his Filipina wife Mila and large extended family. Experienced with the Philippines culture, cross-cultural relationships and bureaucracy as well as Australian visas and Australian Migration Law, he writes with authority and fortunately with enough informality and humour that the average Aussie gets it!
Australian Filipina Relationship Problems - Nationalism and Taking Things Personally
Communication - The Key to Relationship Success


  1. Tibor Bode

    Good article. We are a bit different position as we are waiting for our SC300 offshore prospective visa approval which is in the system. As it takes longer than we were expecting it for our metal and emotional sake we have to go for the tourist visa as being in an LDR is bloody hard, the least to say and one cannot just take several weeks off to travel over to Phils to be together with his / her loved one when would like to. Maybe a new visa category – SC 600 series awaiting for partner visa approval – would be a solution to ensure that the system is not abused, after he partner visa application put in and the main reason is to enhance the relationship as the commitment is already there.

  2. Romallie Espinueva

    My bf is visiting herr in phil and staying herr for 5months abd go back australia for sometimes 2months or less.we plan to the future that i will visit also in australia weve veen together for 10months but know each other for more than 3years now….if i will apply in downunder visa…what requirements i need for tourist visa dont really need for 12 months just acouple of weeks or two months or less is good to visit there.

    • Jeff Harvie

      Hello Romallie. I would imagine we can help you, and we can tell you exactly what we need from you once you become our client. I would recommend you complete our free online visa assessment form on our website and we can see if we can help you.

  3. James

    Extremely frustrating trying to get anything done. We’ve been married 3 years this July and they make it so damn difficult to get the partner visa.

    My wife and I are flying home from Philippines after me visiting there for 6 weeks and plan to visit NZ for a visit as I have never been there nor she and her visa has been granted for NZ already.

    I’m concerned that this might cause problems as we are only staying 3-4 days in NZ only because I have a small IT Business etc.

    Can this bite us in the rear? Thinking of visiting you while in Philippines.

    We are working on Partner Visa as explained above 3 years almost married and 4.5 years together in July.

    Why they make it so hard for those who are 100% in a committed relationship!

    • Jeff Harvie

      I think you would be OK if she was outside Australia for 6 weeks and 3-4 days, James. Issues are where a visa-holder goes to NZ for 3 days and straight back again. They see that as someone playing the system and using the visa as a way of living together for 12 months! Tiny breaks to fulfil the 3 month limit.

      Why? I suspect departmental office-politics. If they don’t want couples spending too much time together, why issue a visa that for all intends and purposes looks like it’s a 1 year visa? We just try to warn people of the ins and outs to avoid them getting into trouble.

      Sure, can catch up. But can I get you to do one of our free online visa assessment forms? Need to know what your situation is first so I can advise you properly.

      • James

        She was here last year so will be I think roughly 11 months almost 12 months since she was here last visit so yea.

        I have done the online form and we have a strong case for it to work out.

        Dated April 7th 2019 when it was completed 🙂

        Thanks for your reply 🙂

  4. Doctor

    Hi Jeff. Thank you for this article. I’m an Australian citizen and my Filipina partner is working on her 4th tourist visa application. She has visited Australia four times in the past, the most recent one is just a few weeks ago and she was actually granted just a 3-month single entry stay! I would just like to ask if it’s okay to mention on my letter of invitation that I definitely have plans of sponsoring her to be with me in Australia permanently on a partner visa but as we are still in the process of gathering the necessary requirements, we currently depend on a tourist visa for us to be able to spend time together here in Australia. After reading your article, I just realised that her visiting Australia a few times now might be the reason why she was given a short tourist visa validity on her last application, although she would only stay for 2 to 3 weeks each visit. It will be greatly appreciated if you can enlighten me regarding this matter. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!

    • Jeff Harvie

      You need to move your partner visa plans forward. It’s unlikely you will get another tourist visa after this for quite a while.


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