It may be one of the most controversial aspects of immigration around the world – relatively new relationships are often scrutinised seriously to ensure that both parties are committed to each other for the right reasons, and not simply to obtain residency or citizenship to another country.
If you wish to apply for a partner visa to Australia arising out of a de facto relationship, you must be able to demonstrate to the Australian Government that you have a legitimate and pre-existing relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. The appropriate test which will be applied is whether you can demonstrate that you have been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months prior to applying for the partnership visa.
But how does this work in practice?
Applying for partnership visas
If you wish to enter Australia as a permanent resident’s or citizen’s partner, you may initially be granted a temporary 2 year partner visa, which can eventually be converted into a permanent partner visa. It is important to know that you may be inside or outside of Australia at the time of your application, and that the application process is currently anticipated to take between 12 and 15 months, according to the Department for Immigration and Border Protection.
Criteria for your relationship
Even if you are married before applying for the visa, your relationship still has to be proven genuine.
However, if you are not legally married or are in a same sex marriage (even if this is legal where the wedding took place) then you must apply for a partnership visa on a de facto basis. You must be able to establish that you were in a genuine de facto relationship for 12 months before applying for the partnership visa. “De facto” means that you are living together or co-habiting, you can’t simply be dating.
Proving the link
But what evidence can you provide that you are in a domestic relationship? The Australian Government will take into account the nature of your domestic arrangements (including such mundane things as who does the household chores) and proof that you are supporting each other physically, financially, and in other ways.
This may mean showing evidence of bank statements, utility bills, birthday cards, details of your relationship history and statements from friends and family members who have interacted with you as a couple.
Are there exemptions to the 12-month requirement?
The 12-month test can be avoided at the discretion of the Australian Government in certain compelling and compassionate circumstances, including having young children, or the award of a humanitarian visa to one half of the couple. There is also a possibility that you may be able to register your de facto relationship with the state or territory government where you are living. However, this is not available in all Australian states.
The Australian Government is not setting out to keep people who are in genuine and serious relationships apart. If you meet the 12-month relationship requirement, then you will generally be able to apply for a partnership visa. If you do not meet this criterion, ensure that you obtain timely advice from your migration agent to find out how else you might be eligible to obtain a partner visa.