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Partner Visas

Did you know you don’t need to be married, to apply for a Partner Visa in Australia, and eventually obtain permanent residence?

Many people are under the impression this is the case, but the essential rule is that you are either lawfully married (under a marriage recognised by Australian law), or are in a de facto relationship. Many people also believe that you need to be living together continuously for 12 months, if you are not married and wish to apply for a Partner Visa. This is not so.

The rule if not married, is that you are living together or if not living together, that separation is not permanent. Now if a couple is engaged but not yet living together, and see living together or marriage as inevitable, that is the beginning of a de facto relationship.

Another example is where a couple have commenced living together (under one part of the de facto relationship rule), and then one party needs to work in another part of Australia or internationally. If for a limited period, and with the full intention of the couple being reunited at some time in the future, the de facto relationship continues.

Of course during any time apart, the Department of Home Affairs may ask for evidence of continued contact between the parties.

This can be demonstrated by downloads of social media contact (through Messenger, WhatsApp for instance), logs of phone attendances made and so on.

Usually a couple need to be in a de facto relationship for 12 months before an application can be lodged.


However, if the parties register their relationship with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriage (through Service NSW), the visa applicant does not need to be in a de facto relationship for 12 months, before applying for a Partner Visa. An applicant however still needs to provide the Department with evidence of their relationship.

Evidence in no small way establishes a marital or de facto relationship with the Department. The requirement for evidence applies equally to a visa applicant either married or de facto, a marriage certificate alone will not be sufficient to establish a marriage for immigration purposes.

And, the Department of Home Affairs (previously Immigration), will accept a Relationship Certificate after the application is lodged, if a person’s visa is running out before the Registry can register the relationship (noting there is a 28 day cooling off period).

Two years after a Partner Visa application has been made (with presumably the temporary Partner visa (subclass 820) being granted), a person can submit further evidence to the Department to obtain their permanent Partner Visa (the subclass 801 visa (or subclass 100 for those who have applied offshore)).

This unfortunately takes a further 18 months plus for assessment. Readers should note that there is a different definition of a de facto relationship used in Australian Citizenship applications, compared to the definition used for migration purposes found in the Migration Act.

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