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De Facto Partner Visas – A mere formality?


australian filipina couple in de facto relationship applying for an Australian Partner Visa from Philippines to Australia


Partner Visas from Philippines to Australia! THE visa for Australian Filipina couples who wish to be together permanently. You can qualify for one of these by two main pathways:


1. Be MARRIED. Legally married. And legally married before the application is lodged!

Note that if you apply for an OFFSHORE partner visa, you may marry after the application is lodged. You just need to do so before they finalise the application and grant the partner visa.

And for a PROSPECTIVE MARRIAGE VISA (aka fiancee visa), you marry after the visa applicant arrives in Australia from Philippines. 

But for an ONSHORE Partner Visa, you need to be married before the visa application is lodged. No exceptions.


2. Be in an established DE FACTO RELATIONSHIP. Not “Well, we’re thinking about living together and…..”. No, you have to be in one when the application is lodged.

And what’s more, they need to be convinced of the genuineness of your de facto relationship at the time of the visa grant. This is not a mere formality!


What is a de facto relationship for partner visa purposes?


Let’s start by what is NOT a de facto relationship for partner visa processes!


1. Just living-together!

They need to see and believe that you are in a committed and well-established shared-life relationship! Living-together alone is not enough! Sharing a bed is not enough! 


2. “We met 3 months ago, and we are in a de facto relationship”

No. No, you are not! No one is in a committed shared-life relationship after such a short time. Yes, you may have made a good start, but you’re not there yet! And they expect you to have been in a de facto relationship for 12 MONTHS when you lodge the application anyway!


3. “We met on 19 January, and our de facto relationship started on 19 January”

No, it didn’t! I think this one is fairly obvious. It’s not just “We met, ‘got together’ and she stayed!” You may well have had some serious chemistry and attraction to each other, however you had not made a commitment to each other to lead a shared-life and to remain together at that point. 


4. “We registered our relationship. That should be enough.”

Registering your relationship shortens the time you need to have been in your committed de facto relationship before applying. No longer 12 months minimum, and realistically around 6 months. Does that mean you can live together and get a certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) within a month and then apply for the visa? Definitely not! See the next point!

(And note that (a) not every state has registered relationships, and (b) you must be both legally free to marry before you can apply!)


5. No evidence of leading a shared-life

They don’t know you! They deal with people trying to scam their way to a visa all the time. Why on earth would they believe you at face-value? No, they need proof and yes it IS their right to do so.

And a few hastily-prepared receipts and a joint-account at the bank with a single transaction….the $100.00 you opened it with…this won’t cut it.


6. “We’re not in a de facto relationship now but we WILL be!”

One of the more common errors. No, you can’t get a visa to commence a de facto relationship. They have no “Learners Permit” de facto partner visas! You have to already qualify at the time of applying.


A genuine de facto relationship for an Australian Partner Visa


A de facto relationship means you have an absolute commitment to each other. You think and act as “us” and not “her and me”! If you don’t trust each other with your private matters, or if you still hang on fiercely to your independence and live like a couple of flatmates-with-privileges, then you are definitely not!

If you are living as if you were married, just without having the marriage certificate to prove it? Then yes, you are probably in a de facto relationship that the Department will accept. 


How long?

The rules say that at the time of the visa application, you should have to have been in a de facto relationship for 12 months or more. 


Can that be reduced with a Registered Relationship?

Yes, but again that does not mean you can wave around the certificate as if it equalled a marriage certificate! Don’t kid yourself! It reduceds the time, and that’s all it does in reality. You still have to prove to them that you are leading a committed shared-life!

And again, not all states in Australia HAVE a registered relationship program and not everyone qualifies. Ask us!


How short a time? 

They never stated a fixed length of time, however the well-understood standard is 6 months. As I said above, don’t think you can apply after a month or so simply because you have the certificate. They will still scrutinise you closely.


So what are my requirements to prove a de facto relationship?

No sorry. You’re not getting a list here. We’re more generous with free information than most Registered Migration Agents are, however we still need to earn a living. Plus, lists of “requirements” are case-by-case. You won’t slap together a successful visa application by having a shopping list of evidence. 

Become our client, and we will give you all the guidance you need – both in what you need for a successful partner visa application, AND what you need to prove beyond doubt that your de facto relationship is genuine and committed. 

We tell you what steps you need to take. We answer your many questions promptly and in sufficient detail, and will answer questions until you understand. And we will check what you actually send us, and will let you know if it’s up to standard. We simply won’t let you short-change us, nor will we lodge substandard visa applications. 


So, can you bull$#!+ your way through a de facto visa application?

I’ll partially answer this with another question to you. 

Do you think the Embassy or Department have any problems with refusing your visa application if they are not completely convinced?

None at all!

This is the Department. This is visas. This is deciding who can come and stay permanently in Australia, and who can’t. The Australian Constitution gives the Federal Government power to make these decisions, and the Australian people expect them to do their jobs properly. If you think a few hastily-prepared documents and receipts will allow them to tick it off as a mere formality, then please think again. 


What can Down Under Visa do?


What we cannot do is to create a de facto relationship where none exists. The commitment part has to come from you, and it needs to be there before you even speak to us. What we can do is to give you some pretty precise guidance as to what you will need to have in place in your shared-lives to show those who do NOT know you personally (ie the Department and/or Australian Embassy in Manila) that a genuine de facto relationship between the two of you exists. 

If you are not committed to each other, and if you are not committed to the process of putting together a startlingly solid application that will leave the Case Officers in no doubt, then probably not much at all. 

If you think you would like to apply for a Partner Visa from Philippines to Australia based on a de facto relationship and are prepared to make the most of expert advice, please complete a free online visa assessment form!


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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