De Facto Relationship Visa
Australian Partner Visas for De Facto Couples
You feel you are in a de facto relationship (aka defacto relationship) with a lady from the Philippines, or you want to be in a de facto relationship, and you want to bring your Filipina lady to Australia and live together permanently. Is this a mere formality, or is it complicated? We clear this up for you.
Information contained in this page is of a general nature. Informative, yes, but not a formula for preparing visa applications and should not be relied on as such. The devil is in the detail, rest assured. Australian migration law is complicated and Departmental decisions are inflexible and often final. Readers and future visa applicants and sponsors are advised to rely on professionals to ensure a happy outcome.
You can apply for a partner visa based on one of two scenarios:
For an Onshore Partner Visa (ie. a partner visa applied-for inside Australia, with the Filipina applicant inside Australia when the visa application is lodged) you need to be legally married when we lodge the application. For an Offshore Partner Visa (ie. a partner visa applied-for outside Philippines, with the Filipina applicant outside Australia when the visa application is lodged) you can be either legally married now, or will marry before the application is finalized (ie. not too long afterwards!)
De facto relationship
We may also apply for an Australian Partner Visa (either onshore or offshore) for Australian Filipina couples if you are NOW in an EXISTING de facto relationship for *12 months or more. That means EXISTING. It does NOT mean you can get a partner visa and then start living together as a de facto couple. Sorry. There are no partner visa options for this, and you need to accept this. And you need to also accept that you can’t expect the Department of Home Affairs (Immigration) to give you a 1 year tourist visa either, so you can build up the required 12 months for the relationship to be seen as long enough. Tourist visas are not designed for living-together purposes, and they will refuse such applications. *Note: This may be reduced under some circumstances, where you have a Registered Relationship. Right now these are available only in certain states, and each state has its own requirements. And note you cannot get a registered relationship if still legally married. Read more: Registered Relationships
What is a de facto relationship
A de facto relationship is a committed and exclusive relationship where you lead a truly shared-life together. Living together. A “live-in relationship”, as they call it in the Philippines. Setting up house together. This requires a large number of very specific things to be in place, and generally a large number of changes in your lifestyle. A de facto relationship is like a marriage minus the marriage certificate. You live together in a committed relationship to the exclusion of all others, and share your life together as if you were a married couple. That means a shared life, where you think and act us “us” rather than “me”. In other words it’s more than just sharing a roof and sharing a bed. It means a full commitment, and not just trying each other on for size to see if you wish to take things further. The commitment needs to have already happened, and it needs to be with the intention of remaining together forever.
But how can we do this if we can’t get a 12 month tourist visa?
Firstly, remember that an Australia visa is a grant and is not a “right”. Don’t approach the Department as a service agency where they have a duty to make this easier for you. They don’t. You have to do the work. Secondly, look at the FAQ below. You need to start living together (either in Australia or Philippines, or a combination of both) and you need to set up a household that reflects your shared-life together, but if you need to be apart due to unavoidable circumstances (like a lack of a 12 month tourist visa), this is not actually a problem.
De Facto Relationship Pros and Cons
(In addition to pros and cons for other partner visas)
- May be applied-for when either or both partners are still legally married, as long as precious application is definitely finished
- Does not require annulments and/or divorces
- As long as de facto relationship has started and continues, it is possible to be apart when unavoidable
- Registered Relationships can shorten the time required to be in relationship
- Requires a lot of evidence, ie far more than an ordinary partner visa application
- Requires time spent living together before an application is lodged
- Requires the same level of commitment to a shared-life together as any other partner visa, and this needs to be proved
- Requires being in a de facto relationship for 12 months before applying, unless in Registered Relationship
- Registered Relationships do not exist in every Australian state
- Registered Relationships are not applicable when either party is still married
De Facto Relationships – FAQ
We lived together for 12 months. Does that mean we’re a de facto couple?
Maybe. But there’s more to a de facto couple than just sharing a roof or even sharing a bed. They’re looking for evidence of a solid commitment to a shared-life together. Living together could just mean you were flatmates.
I visited her a lot in the Philippines over the years, and she visited me in Australia for three months. Are we in a de facto relationship?
Unless you actually “set up house” together, you will have difficulty in proving you have a shared-life. Visiting isn’t enough it itself.
We never lived together but we feel in our hearts that we’re a de facto couple.
I feel like the world’s greatest supermodel, but that doesn’t make me one. The Department are charged by Australian law to ensure the letter of that law is followed. They look for cold hard facts, and not warm fuzzy feelings.
We lived together for 5 years, but we kept our finances separate.
It will be difficult to prove a commitment or a shared-life if you maintain financial independence from each other.
We have kids together. Is that enough?
Making babies can be just a biological function. You can get a lady pregnant and not even like her, let alone be in a committed relationship with her. So no, not enough in itself.
Can we get a de facto visa and then start living together?
No. You must be already in that established relationship when you lodge the visa application.
Does it matter that one/both of us are still married?
It’s not an issue, as long as the previous relationship is well and truly over and your current relationship is exclusive.
We didn’t spend the whole 12 months living together because of work commitments.
The definition in the legislation says “They live together, or not apart on a permanent basis”. If you need to be apart due to work or even visa limitations, you may do so as long as your relationship continues in the interim. But you need to have commenced living together.
What if I can’t stay in Philippines?
You don’t have to. It’s perfectly acceptable for your partner to apply for a tourist visa to come and stay with you if it’s for legitimate and genuine reasons. Genuine reasons include visiting you to enhance your relationship.
Does that mean she can stay with me for 12 months?
Tourist visas are for visiting. They are NOT substitutes for partner visas, and if you apply for a 12 month partner visa so you can live together, it will be refused. Please read: Can I get a one year tourist visa?
When would a de facto relationship start?
It would start when you commenced living together properly. Not when you were at a resort, or when you had a shopping trip in Singapore. It commenced when your joint household was established. NOTE: It never starts the same day you meet!
How do we know if we are in a de facto relationship?
Contact Down Under Visa, and we will assess your situation.
Have A De Facto Relationship Question Not Answered Above?
Now, over to you the client (or potential client)! We value our clients opinions, and we believe in keeping all well-informed. What would YOU like to ask about de facto relationships? What do YOU think needs a bit more explanation? Ask below, and Jeff Harvie RMA will answer your question for you and for others wondering the same thing.
What if I want to start a de facto relationship?
This is a common scenario. The couple can’t get married because of an existing marriage and/or a lengthy annulment procedure. Annulments can take 12 months or more, and depend on many factors. There is no no-fault divorce in the Philippines. Sometimes this can drag out for years. Is there another way of doing this?
Yes, there is. You CAN commence a de facto relationship by establishing a home together and commencing living a shared-life together. And when you have 12 month history, we may apply for a partner visa based on that relationship.
Down Under Visa manage a lot of partner visa applications from Philippines to Australia, and that includes a lot of de facto relationships too. So we do know all about them, and we can help you in ensuring that you do in fact have a genuine de facto relationship that would be acceptable by the Department.
Down Under Visa are Registered Migration Agents with a great deal of experience in lodging successful partner visas for Australian-Filipina couples in defacto relationships. We provide a De Facto Relationship Preparation Service which is a series of learning modules that that will guide you how to prepare yourselves and to have everything in place so that you will be ready to start preparing a successful partner visa application.
We will also provide the same learning modules to clients already in defacto relationships, to help them fine-tune their much more-detailed visa requirements to prove that the defacto relationship is in fact a genuine defacto relationship.
And when we’re getting closer to the 12 month time, we can start preparing the actual partner visa application itself. Please read: De Facto Planner
Yes, this looks like what I need. What do I do now?
Go to https://www.assessments.downundervisa.com.au/ and complete our free visa assessment form online.
And make sure you select “de facto relationship” as relationship options for both you AND your partner, and complete the de facto relationship assessment questions at the bottom. Then wait for Jeff Harvie to get back to you.
Want to read more about De Facto Relationships? Check out some of our de facto relationship BLOG posts below.