You’re probably looking at our cartoon here, and asking what on earth am I getting at? Not always easy to summarise a BLOG article. This time? Issue is the sometimes-reluctance to get married and the belief that a visa applicant from Philippines can just remain in Australia for a very long time while they keep up a long delay. My issue and my point is that the Department will assess your application and if you are already married or in an established de facto relationship and can demonstrate a genuine commitment to this relationship…..they will grant you a partner visa and let you remain in Australia. They will not let you hang around and delay the process in Australia for a long time while you put this off! There are no long-stay visas for not-yet-committed couples!
The right to stay in Australia – a myth
Yes, definitely a myth.
Australian Citizens have plenty of rights in Australia. This is why you can jump up and down and complain at your local Council office or at the Transport Department when you feel you haven’t been treated fairly. You’re an Aussie. You live in Australia. Your friends and neighbours are behind you, and your Local Member will back you up if you’re not given the traditional Australian “fair go”!
Your lady in the Philippines isn’t an Australian Citizen, and doesn’t have the same rights. The Department has a duty to protect Australia’s borders and to only let people in when they meet the criteria set down in the Migration Regulations. They don’t have to care about what she wants, and in reality they don’t. They have a job to do, and making it easier for you both to make a smooth and easy transition into Australia according to your own timeframe…..this ain’t part of it.
So basically, you need to meet the Regulations and the expectations of the Department if you want a visa granted, and the desire or need to delay the process doesn’t factor into it.
The long-stay visa myth
Much of this is caused by the Department website stating that there is a one-year tourist visa option. Costs the same. Sounds like a fine idea to most people. It would be like upsizing your McDonalds or Hungry Jacks meal for free. Of course you say YES. What the website doesn’t explain is that:
- It’s not a shopping cart where you can just say “Uuuummm…..I’ll have that one!”
- Not every option is necessarily available to you.
If your 60 year old mum wants to come to Australia, they may well grant her a one year stay. She’s not likely to run off and pick fruit in Mildura, and she’s not likely to be living in a de facto relationship with someone. So she’s low risk, and she has a good reason to be in Australia.
The lady you’re in a relationship wants to stay for a year or three on tourist visas? No, she has other reasons for wanting to do this and it’s fairly obvious that it’s because you want to delay applying for a partner visa! Yes, it really is painfully obvious.
Now, you can delay applying as long as you wish. If you wish to marry in 10 years time, then go for it! No one can or would stop you. The issue is really that you can’t expect Australia to provide a visa for you to be together during the waiting time.
What if you’re not ready?
Simple solution! Wait until you are!
I don’t mean to sound insensitive. And I agree that you should never rush into a commitment you’re not ready to make. You need to be prudent when you’re making the biggest decision of your life! But as the expression goes, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too!” The Regulations for partner visas demand commitment in order to grant a visa. No commitment = no partner visa.
And even a Prospective Marriage Visa demands that commitment exist at the time that you lodge the application. If you’re wanting to see how you feel about it all after the visa is granted, then you won’t get the visa grant in the first place.
Basically, there are no “try before you buy” options. Yes, it would be very helpful if you could get to live together on a trial basis for a year before taking the plunge, but it’s simply not their concern. You need to present yourselves to them when you’re already committed to moving forward and have ironed out any of your trepidations and doubts at that stage.
So if you want to let your relationship develop, you need to accept that you can’t do this the whole time in Australia.
Tourist Visas for Australian Filipina couples – A delaying tactic?
You can apply for tourist visas to spend time together. We have a great success rate with these applications, because it most cases these are couples in real relationships with some evidence and history that shows them as a safe bet for the Department. And if they want to spend 3 months together to see how compatible they are living together, then perfectly fine. The problem comes from when they pretty much already know they’re compatible but they want to remain together for a long time.
Why is it a problem? Because that’s not what tourist visas were designed for. They were designed for short visits and then the visa holder goes back to where they came from. They won’t let you stay a year so you can remain together. Three months is a good length of time, and long enough to decide if you want to apply for a partner visa so you can make things permanent. My advice has always been:
If you can’t stand being apart, then apply for a partner visa.
Partner Visas for Australian Filipina couples
This is the way you remain together permanently, but it’s NOT the one you apply for if you’re not yet committed or if you’re holding back. You must be committed to a relationship with each other with is exclusive and which is permanent! Not committed? That’s OK. Just wait until you are! Get a three month tourist visa and spend that time together. Still not committed? Let her go back to the Philippines for a month or so, and maybe you want to try again? Another three months together and see how you feel then? Again?
If you then can’t stand being apart, you’re ready for the next step. Apply for a partner visa.
Don’t want to marry because you don’t believe in marriage or because you can’t marry because of an existing marriage you’re having trouble shaking off due to long and drawn-out annulments in the Philippines? Would you prefer a de facto relationship? No problems. But realise that a de facto relationship needs to show precisely the same level of commitment and permanency as a marriage. No less! Don’t think you can hold back and keep all your assets and private matters to yourself and still get a partner visa.
And if the issue is cold-feet and fear of commitment, then again you’re simply not ready. Wait until you can’t wait to tie the knot! Visit each other more.
High Partner Visa fees – Can’t afford it yet
This is pretty common, and will no doubt become more common as in time those fees will only ever get higher if you delay. They will never vote the “Compassionate and Fair Party” into Government who will crank down partner visa fees. They will continue to squeeze you for all they can get.
But somewhere along the way if you want to be together you will need to find these fees. They won’t let you delay the inevitable and stay together forever on tourist visas. They’re already making it tougher and are cutting back on multiple-entry tourist visa grants. You will have to find it somehow if you want to stop delaying the rest of your lives and want to start living your lives together as you should be.