If you are considering applying for a partner visa and are in a de facto relationship with an Australian partner, there are requirements which you will need to meet which apply specifically to de facto relationships. It is important to be aware of these special rules and ensure that you address them in your application, as failing to do so can result in your de facto visa application being refused.

In this article, we discuss the key de facto visa requirements that de facto partners must satisfy to be eligible for grant of a partner visa.

What Is A De Facto Relationship?

The definition of a de facto relationship for Australian migration law purposes is not necessarily the same as its ordinary common meaning. To satisfy the definition for a de facto relationship visa, you must:

  • not be married to one another;
  • have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others;
  • have a genuine and continuing relationship;
  • live together, or if you do live apart, this must only be temporary (i.e. you must not live ‘separately and apart’ on a permanent basis);
  • not be related by family; and
  • both be at least 18 years of age.

To demonstrate that you meet these requirements, as part of your application you need to address each of the following aspects of your relationship:

  • Financial – to demonstrate the pooling of financial resources, joint asset ownership and/or assuming joint liabilities
  • Social – to demonstrate that your relationship is recognised by others as being genuine (e.g. in the eyes of family and friends) and that you jointly engage in social events and travel/other activities, etc.
  • Household – to demonstrate your living arrangements and how you organise your domestic responsibilities (e.g. cooking, cleaning, etc.) and provide care and support for children
  • Commitment to one another – to demonstrate the length and history of your relationship, your intention for it to be a continuing one and how you maintained contact for any periods when you lived apart.

Immigration will assess your de facto relationship by considering the above factors, taking into account any other relevant information provided in your de facto visa application as well as the individual circumstances of your relationship. Although these factors do not legally have to be ‘met’ to satisfy the definition, they are the key elements which Immigration considers in establishing whether a de facto relationship exists for migration law purposes.

As such, you should make every effort to address each factor by providing relevant evidence for each one and provide reasons why a certain area may be lacking. For example, it may be the case that you and your partner have not lived together for the entire duration of your de facto relationship due to work commitments. Provided this is only temporary, and that you have lived together since the commencement of your de facto relationship, you may still satisfy the definition. The evidence which you provide with your de facto relationship visa application will be key in this regard.

Duration Of Your De Facto Relationship

A key requirement for the grant of a de facto visa is to demonstrate that you have been in a de facto relationship for a period of at least 12 months, as at the date when you apply for the visa, unless you can meet one of the following exemptions:

  • you can demonstrate that compelling and compassionate circumstances exist for grant of the visa;
  • your Australia partner (as your sponsor) either is, or was, the holder of a permanent humanitarian visa, and before grant of that visa, had declared the existence of your de facto relationship to Immigration;
  • your sponsor has applied for a permanent humanitarian visa; or
  • your relationship is registered with an Australian State or Territory Government.

Compelling And Compassionate

Meeting the ‘compelling and compassionate’ condition would generally require one of the following circumstances to exist:

  • there is a dependent child of the relationship; or
  • it is illegal for you to live with your partner in a de facto relationship in your home country.

Be aware that there may be other reasons deemed acceptable by Immigration for the purposes of satisfying ‘compelling and compassionate’ and each case will be judged individually.

Relationship Registration

Registering your relationship with a State or Territory Government will result in the legal recognition of you and your partner as a couple and will bring with it certain legal rights and responsibilities. Each State and Territory will have its own specific conditions which must be satisfied to register a relationship (contact your relevant State or Territory authority for more information if you are considering registering your relationship).

Proposed Changes

It is also important to be mindful of changes to the sponsorship framework that have been proposed and that would significantly affect the de facto relationship visa application process if enacted. The most impactful elements of these changes seek to:

  • separate sponsorship assessment from the visa application process; and
  • require the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made.

These changes would impose stricter sponsorship requirements, with sponsors requiring approval of their application before the visa applicant is permitted to lodge the de facto visa application; and introduce a stricter sponsor approval process.

Potentially, this could lead to an even longer de facto relationship visa processing time than is currently the case (depending on how long adding this extra step to approve the sponsorship application could take).

Get More Information About The Changes

We recommend that you refer you to our articles on the Partner Visa Changes and Australia Partner Visa Changes, for a further detailed discussion of the above proposed changes, how they may impact affected de facto visa applicants, other changes that have since been implemented to the de facto visa program and how a registered migration agent can assist you with your application.

Given the highly complex nature of the migration laws and regulations and the changing environment, this means new rules could be enacted at any time. It is now, therefore, more important than ever to obtain expert advice, to ensure your de facto relationship visa rights are protected. Contact us today to book your consultation.

Get More Information About The De Facto Visa

We have prepared a series of articles to provide further information about the de facto relationship visa program and how it works. We recommend you refer to the links below for more information.

Partner Visa Sponsorship

Partner Visa Sponsor Requirements

Partner Visa Sponsor Approval

What are the requirements for a spouse visa in Australia

Top 5 reasons why partner visas are refused

How to be approved as a partner visa sponsor?

Bridging visas for partner visa applicants

What evidence should I provide?

What case officers look for in a partner visa application?

Overview – Partner Visa Australia

Are you eligible to apply for a de facto partner visa in Australia

Overview of Onshore Australian Partner Visa Schedule 3

Why partner visa applications are so tough

A Detailed Guide on De Facto Visa Application

Register your de facto relationship in South Australia

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In conclusion, given the highly complex nature of the migration laws, and the fact that every individual case is different, we strongly recommend that you book a consultation with an experienced migration agent, so that you are fully informed about the requirements that apply to de facto relationships to ensure that you have the best chance of having a successful outcome.

We note that the above discussion provides an overview of the de facto visa requirements. Australia’s migrations laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice before you proceed with applying for a de facto visa to Australia, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application, and thus lessen the chance that it will be refused. A migration professional can help you to do this. Start off on the right foot by contacting PAX Migration Australia today.

For up-to-date advice on the the de facto visa requirements and how you can apply, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.

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