Partner visas can be tricky, and none more so than the de facto partner visa. Like all visas, the de facto partner visa has strict criteria. In this article, we look at some of those criteria, and answer some common questions.

This is a photograph of a couple looking at the dream home. Image used under Creative Commons license. It was published by  pallspera.com
Image from pallspera.com, licensed by Creative Commons.

What is a de facto relationship?

The phrase ‘de facto‘ is Latin for ‘concerning fact’. However, it is commonly used to mean, ‘in practice but not officially established by law’.

This tells us two things. The first is that your relationship may be marriage-like, when in fact you are unmarried. The second is that it is factual, and that therefore you can prove that it is genuine and ongoing.

For the purposes of Australian immigration law, you are in a de facto relationship if all of the following is true. You:

  • Are not married to each other
  • Have a mutual commitment to a shared life, to the exclusion of other people
  • Are in a genuine and continuing relationship
  • Live together – or at least not separately and apart – on a permanent basis
  • Are not related by family.

You must have been in a de facto relationship for a minimum of 1 year… unless certain exceptions apply.

There is a living-together requirement that you have to meet if you are going to be considered in a de facto relationship.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have been living together 100% during that time. Temporary separations are sometimes necessary, for any number of reasons. The key word here is temporary. Your status of living together must be permanent despite that period of being apart.

If you are not living together, you may have to give the Department additional evidence. That evidence must prove you are not living separately and apart on a permanent basis.

Evidence for de facto relationships is similar to proving other relationships

We’ve talked about some of this in previous posts, like this one. If you’ve been here before, you may recall that this includes:

  • a detailed relationship history
  • your domestic arrangements
  • proof of supporting each other physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, etc
  • details of all temporary separation
  • social context information
  • …and much more.

What if I have been in a de facto relationship for almost a year?

In simple terms, almost a year is not a year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t apply, even if you and your partner have only been in a de facto relationship for 11 months. If you choose to do this, be aware that there are extremely strict guidelines about applying sooner. If you cannot meet that criteria, you are likely to face a visa refusal.

My partner is living in another country, but we’ve been de facto for more than a year. Are we still eligible?

Your partner may be eligible for a partner visa. If you are in a genuine and continuing relationship, and can prove it, then your application may be valid even if you are apart.

This is where it is extremely important that you are able to prove the nature of your relationship in great detail. You must be able to cover all areas (from social to financial aspects). Please read our article about partner visa evidence for more information.

We met online; can the ‘virtual’ period be considered part of the relationship?

Generally speaking, no. You must be able to prove that you have met and have been living together. The one year requirement starts only when you start living together.

Please read our article about online dating and partner visas here. It will give you more information about what you need to do.

Can my de facto relationship be registered?

It depends where you live. Not all areas of Australia allow you to do this.

You can potentially do this if you are living in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria or the ACT.

If you are living in the Northern Territory, South Australia, or Western Australia, you can’t.

I think we are eligible for the de facto relationship requirement. What do we do now?

The best thing to do is get in touch with an immigration lawyer to make sure you have the best chance of gaining your visa. By sending us an email, you’ll be off to a good start. Contact us here >>