Australian Partner Visa or Tourist Visa – Hard Decisions


Tourist visas! Australian Tourist Visas from Philippines, and the changing immigration landscape. Different rules and different priorities and the standards change. We observe, and we pass the information on so you can better understand what to expect and what the new rules are. What we all know is that Australian partner visa fees are rising. And our clients have to make a decision what to do now, and/or in the near future – Tourist Visa or Partner Visa?


Australian tourist visa or Australian partner visa? Australian partner visa fees are high. Can you avoid the government visa charge and get a long stay on a tourist visa instead?


First of all, to those who haven’t read some or all of our articles here on the BLOG page, a few simple but essential statements.

  1. Visas are grants and not rights! Never assume an entitlement to a visa, or that they have to hand it over because you’re a taxpayer. 
  2. There is no such thing as a “simple tourist visa”. They make them challenging in order to ensure that only suitable visa applicants get visa grants and those who want to rort the system, overstay and work illegally won’t get in. You need to prove that you’re not like this if you want a tourist visa grant.


Why Tourist Visas from Philippines to Australia?


Partner Visa applications are becoming increasingly more expensive as partner visa fees rise, and many Australians simply don’t have the funds readily available to pay the visa application charges that the Government (in it’s compassionate wisdom) extorts for their services. The more they crank the fees up, the harder it all becomes. And Australian Filipina couples are often in a position where they can’t just reach for the check book and do it. 

Have our partner visa numbers been dropping over the years? No, not at all. Then again, we’ve been in practice for a while and our reputation drives more and more people to our doors. And the other thing is that you can’t keep a good man down…..or a good couple down. No one EVER gives up on the love of their life because of money! They find a way, and in the meantime they do what they can to be together.

But I need to let you all know that whilst your desires for tourist visas has increased most definitely (often because you don’t yet have the cash for the visa fees), the Department (in it’s compassionate wisdom) has been cracking down on a few areas and making things tougher. Let’s explain the basics first.


Single Entry or Multiple Entry Tourist Visa & How Long?


Two essential types of Australian tourist visa you will see. One is single-entry and one is multiple-entry.


Single Entry

This means just that. May enter Australia a single time. Once only. Even if you get a 3 month stay, once the visa holder leaves Australia than that’s it! Finished! You can’t do a “visa run” and renew it. It’s finished.


Multiple Entry

This means the applicant may leave Australia and come back again on the same visa as long as the rules are followed. The visa will notably have two important things to look at.

  1. Stay period: Commonly this will be three months. So the visa holder may stay up to three months (NOT 90 days, but 3 calendar months) and then must leave. This is NOT a “one year visa”. Leave within three months.
  2. The “last date to enter”: Many (or many most) people mistake this for the expiry date. It is in fact the last date that the visa holder may enter Australia, where they may stay for the stay period, ie three months usually.

And an important fact! The multiple entry tourist visa holder must never think they can come back three days later! You will find yourself stopped at the airport if you try to do this, as they will see this as trying to use a tourist visa to live in a de facto relationship for a year. This isn’t what the visa was meant for, and they will take a hard line. So stay away for at least a month before returning, for your own sakes.


Maximum Stay Period – 3 months, 6 months, 12 months?

Elderly parents and aunties visiting their kids and grandkids, they will take a softer view and may grant 6 month stays or sometimes even 12 months. Do not expect this yourselves! It won’t happen. You can realistically expect a 3 month stay to visit your Australian fiancee or boyfriend. 

Yes, I know the Department website says you can get 3, 6 or 12 months. But I’m stating reality. They don’t give out long stay tourist visas to loving Australian Filipina couples.


Tourist Visa Options for Australian Filipina Couples


Tourist visa rather than partner visa? I think you’ve all heard me say time and time again that if you really can’t stand being apart then you should be looking at a Partner Visa. No question about it. But if you’re lacking the necessary finances because of the high partner visa fees then I do understand. I would just strongly advise you to concentrate on turning it around as soon as you can, because a tourist visa will never take the place of a partner visa and the Department will ensure that you can’t use a tourist visa in its place.


Six Month Stay

A month or so ago the Australian Embassy in Manila actually spelled that one out to us. Older parents and maybe the occasional Auntie could get a 6 month stay. But for couples, they will generally only give out a 3 month stay. And a number of years ago they told us they don’t want to give out stays of longer than 3 months to anyone. So that’s the reality.


Single Entry or Multiple Entry

Back in “the olden days”, multiple-entry tourist visas from Philippines to Australia were hard work. You had to utterly convince them of the need, or they didn’t grant them. Then they relaxed about them considerably and starting giving them out even when we didn’t even ask for them. Now, maybe it’s because of the issues discussed earlier about people treating them as replacement partner visas and the issues with Border Force? Don’t know. We can only observe, because they rarely tell us reasons. 

Fact! They grant less multiple-entry tourist visas. Over the last few weeks we had 19 tourist visa grants. 12 were single-entry and 9 were multiple-entry. Haven’t done an in-depth analysis but that looks about right. Therefore definitely less multiple-entries than there used to be. We can ask for them, but it’s up to them what decision they make. So don’t expect you can always get this option.


Long Onshore Tourist Visas

What clients like calling a “visa extension”, or “getting the visa extended”, is in fact an Onshore Tourist Visa application. A new visa, applied-for while the visa holder is inside Australia.

Now, last year we found we could ask for 6 months……or even 9 months. Since the start of 2019, I think they’ve granted mostly 3 month stays. We had a 6 month grant the other day which was highly unusual.

Again, what it means is that you cannot expect to remain together too long. They have a strong resistance to anyone using one visa in place of another, ie using a tourist visa instead of a partner visa. They see this as cheating the system and make no allowances for your finances, and I suspect they wouldn’t like anyone doing this to avoid the higher partner visa fees which no doubt they consider reasonable.


Getting a further tourist visa

What I mean here is the scenario where you’ve spent a year or nearly a year together and you want to continue that because you can’t stand the idea of being apart! 

There is a “discretionary” Condition on tourist visas known as Condition 8558. It states that you can’t spend more than 12 months in any 18 month period inside Australia.

That means it is very very unlikely you will get another stay and get to be together when you’ve been together for a year already. And lately we’ve found them cracking down when a couple have been together for about 9 months, because another 3 months could push you just over that 12 month period! And we’ve seen this happen even when the couple have also applied for a partner visa. So they’ve definitely got tougher about this.


Can’t Afford Partner Visa Fees


So what do you do?

Bottom line is they’re not making things easier. Peter Dutton is still in charge. Pauline wants a plebiscite because she thinks Australia has too many migrants. And the Department seems to be getting tougher rather than easier. 

We will do what we can. We haven’t put up tourist visa fees for a few years and have no plans to do so, and we’re always happy to help you. We will however lay it in the line for you if we think what you’re asking is going to end in disappointment or even outright visa refusal. We do you no favours by telling you fairy tales. But we will continue always to help you to be together.

But we will urge you to face reality, and that reality is that you need to get a partner visa! If you can spend $33,690.00 on a new Holden Commodore, then I’m sure the love of your life is worth a bit more! I think I’d rather have my wife! Find a way! Sell something (even your Holden Commodore). Borrow the fees. Go talk to your parents and see if they can help you out. Live frugally and work longer hours. This is the monetary version of saying “I’d walk over hot coals for you, my darling”!


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!
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