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Partner visas can be a real challenge. They cost lots of money. They take a long time (although not necessarily as long as most people think they take). They’re a lot of work. And you miss each other and want to be together.

And I suppose like all challenged people, it’s only natural to try to find a better and easier way to bring your partner from Philippines to Australia. We (Down Under Visa) tell people straight, and we tell people the most problem-free ways of getting the Partner Visa and of getting together. Yet some clients…..Bless ‘em, and yes we really DO understand…..try to find better and easier ways of doing things.


Is there an easier way to get your partner to Australia from Philippines rather than a partner visa


And it revolves around two main areas.

  1. Getting together faster
  2. Saving on Government fees


And of course they think about ways of saving on Down Under Visa’s professional fees too, and many come back to us after they’ve had refusals or even found themselves with a Condition 8503 (No Further Stay) preventing them from lodging any further applications inside Australia.  


Most common – The endless Tourist Visa


Many people try to bring their partner from Philippines and intend to stay for an extraordinary length of time on a Tourist Visa. They are granting Multiple-Entry Tourist Visas more readily these days, and many assume these are a one year visa! The thinking is that you can save shelling out $10K+ on partner visa fees, at least for now. And maybe after a year can try for another one year tourist visa. 

Well, reality is that they won’t let you use a Tourist Visa in place of a Partner Visa. Despite one section of the Department (ie the Immigration people) giving out more Multiple Entries, the cranky side of the Department known as Border Force seem to disagree. If you return too soon, they’re likely to give your lady a serious grilling at the airport as only a large Australian man in a sinister uniform can! Please read THIS if you haven’t already.  

So in reality, you and your partner from Philippines won’t be together all the time this way. She also can’t work and can’t put her kids into school for more than 3 months in total. The school fees are really high too. No Medicare either. 

When you tally up 3 x return airfares for her (yes, realistic maximum of 3 x 3 month stays per year only), visa fees, maybe some regional flights as well. Could comfortably spend $7,000.00 over a year. Poor economy if you ask me. I’d rather see a client wait a bit and then pursue the plan that will bring you to that point of being permanently together faster. 


And as for trying to do it a second year?

  1. You can double those expenses
  2. Highly unlikely they will let her do that over another year. You may get another 3 months, but that would be about it. The rule-of-thumb in Departmental policy is no more than 12 months in any 18 month period!*


Condition 8558 – No more than 12 months in any 18 month period


*This is known as Condition 8558. Some visas have this imposed on them, and case officers may apply this at their discretion, and it has LONG been the Departmental rule-of-thumb as I explained above. It means the visa applicant may not spend more than 12 months inside Australia in any 18 month period! Or otherwise you can say “Over the last 18 months, you must have spent 6 months of that time OUTSIDE Australia”.

It’s often discretionary, which means they may choose to apply it or may not. Basically, you may be lucky. But don’t count on it! More likely than not if you’ve spent 12 months inside Australia, they won’t grant you another tourist visa until you’ve been out of the country for 6 months.

And note that it’s often actually written as a condition on a Tourist Visa grant notice, which means if you spend one extra day over 12 months then you’re facing cancellation! Once again, you have to understand that tourist visas are not partner visas! Yes, I know you want to save money, and gentlemen I also understand that many of you have cold feet and are hoping to put this off. But the fact is that Tourist Visas are not designed for living together and avoiding a partner visa, and if they think this is what you’re trying to do they will refuse the application OR make sure they impose Condition 8558 and will limit your time together.  


And look, again, if you’re you’re not ready to take the big plunge? Still a few niggling doubts and not sure that one or both of you is totally committed? Then by all means take your time. But if you’ve already taken that plunge where you literally can’t stand being apart or the idea of being apart, then if you possibly can you should take the bold step.


Watch out for Amateur Migration Advice


Watch out for advice from amateurs. There’s a reason why it’s illegal in Australia for anyone who is not a Registered Migration Agent giving out “migration advice” (ie advice about how to get a visa). That reason is that they can hurt you a great deal if they tell you the wrong thing. They may mean well. Friends and relatives generally do. Advice forums and Facebook group pages? May be an ego thing. May be just overconfidence too.

Let me tell you something bluntly. Many of those giving out wise how-to advice on facebook groups and assorted forums have managed ONE successful visa application themselves! So did I, years ago! I organised my wife’s Prospective Marriage Visa. 

Did I do a great job?? Note that this was long before I was educated and qualified as a Migration Agent, and I’ve since done literally thousands of partner visa applications. Back then? Did I do a great job with the application? It was awful! I have no idea why they were so patient with us! But it was granted, and than goodness I never started advising people at that point!  


Bad Migration Advice


Go to Australia and get a Partner Visa and marry later

If you apply for an Onshore Partner Visa, you need to be married first. The only exception is if you are in an ESTABLISHED de facto relationship. You can’t marry later.  


Go to Australia on a Tourist Visa, then start a Partner Visa later

Partner Visa applications take months of work. We had a senior banking executive (ie very organised administrator) prepare his fiancee’s application in one month once. Two months is quick. Three to four months is fairly common. And a marriage license takes a month, if you intend marrying too. And “rush-job” and “quality” rarely go together! You can wreck everything for yourselves this way.  


Get a Bridging Visa in the meantime

Bridging Visas are issued automatically when (a) you’ve applied for a new visa (eg Partner Visa) ONSHORE, and (b) the Tourist Visa runs out before it’s been finalised. You can NOT get a bridging visa for an offshore visa, and you can NOT apply for a stand-alone bridging visa to fill in while you sort out what you’re wanting to do!  


She’s still married, but that won’t matter

Yes, it does matter! Whether the married was performed overseas, or whether he was a horrible man who abandoned her, or whether he was already married to someone else? The marriage still exists, and she can’t marry until she has that one annulled!  


We want a visa to start a de facto relationship

No, you must be in an EXISTING de facto relationship, and be in it for 12 months. IF you qualify for a Registered Relationship (if your state permits) you may reduce that to about 6 months, but you can’t get a pre-relationship Partner Visa sorry.  


She’s pregnant, and the system will bend for us

No, sorry. It will not! This is one of the often-tragic scenarios.

  1. She can’t fly after a certain point in the pregnancy
  2. If the child is born in Philippines, it will take about 3 months to get a birth certificate, another month or two to get a passport, and at least 4 weeks from start to finish to get a visa for the baby. 
  3. If the child is born in Australia, the child is born as an Australian Citizen (assuming Dad is an Aussie Citizen or Permanent Resident). The child will need a birth certificate (a few months) and a few weeks to get a passport. 
  4. What’s the problem with #3? Child becoming an Aussie doesn’t affect mum’s situation, and if mum has to leave a week after giving birth then mum needs to leave minus baby!
  5. And of huge importance, pregnant ladies are emotional and vulnerable. They should at the very LEAST be in a stable position migration-wise when they go through it! 


Conservative but Reliable Partner Visa Strategies


We’re not much on bold initiatives that MAY work. We don’t recommend risky strategies or anything that could easily go wrong. Yes they work some of the time, but that’s really not good enough when people are paying us for our guidance and for some certainty. Shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and it’s a straight line we get our clients to walk. 

You would never make an exciting TV series like “Migration Squad” from the Down Under Visa office. Our approach is always safe, and I suspect our staff are a bit boring. Jeremy is! But we don’t see too many refusals, which is more than I could say for some of the schemes that we hear of. 

I hate risk, and I’m sure most of you don’t want to take risks with your precious relationship!  


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COVID CONCERNS? Australian visas ARE still being granted. We can assess you (a) for an Australian visa AND (b) for a travel ban exemption. CLICK HERE and find out!


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!


Visa Requirements - Getting a list of what you need
Dealing with Philippines Immigration - and other officials


  1. Remile

    Hi, im an australian permanent resident and my partner is in the Phil. He recently got approved with a 3 month single entry tourist visa. Would it be possible to apply for partner visa when he is here? We’re planning on registering as de facto partners with the registry of BDM. We’ve been together for just a little over a year. do you think we would qualify for a de facto? Queensland’s requirement for registration as de facto only asks to have atleast one partner living in Qld. it doesnt say anything about having the same address and living together.

    • Jeff Harvie

      Not something I can respond to properly at the end of a BLOG article, Remile. Suggest you get a free visa assessment done and let’s see what we can do for you.


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