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Partner Visas and the De Facto Relationship – Philippines to Australia


Australian Partner Visa from Philippines to Australia as a de facto couple


Many Australian Filipina couples decide to make Australia their home on a regular basis. Once they reach that stage where a Tourist Visa no longer satisfies (because they can’t stand those lonely nights when she has to go back) they realize they need a PARTNER VISA. Yes, Partner Visa from the Philippines to Australia, and as soon as possible! But you are NOT married. Instead you are in a de facto relationship. Is this possible?


How do you get a partner Visa for your Filipina sweetheart?


One of the easy mistakes Australian Citizens make is to assume that getting a visa for your wife, fiancee or partner is “a right”! Something you are entitled to! A bit like how you may invite anyone you like into your house! Your home is your castle, and you can do pretty much anything you want! You may certainly decide who you let in and who you don’t!

However……this rule does NOT apply to your country! You CANNOT just say “I’ve invited her, so she’s coming!”

The Australian Constitution (Section 51(xxvii)) gave over all immigration decisions to the Commonwealth Parliament in Canberra. Parliament established a Department of Immigration in 1945, and this Department (with its many changing names over the years!) makes these decisions on behalf of the Government.

And whether you like it or not, they made three possible visas for partners!



And the Department (now known as The Department of Home Affairs) decides what you need to do and what your marital status (civil status) needs to be in order to get one of these!


Prospective Marriage Visa

Aka Fiancee Visa


You must be engaged to be married, and you must intend enter Australia and to MARRY in Australia all within a time frame (currently 12 months from the date of the visa).

Want to marry in later years? Don’t want to marry at all? Wrong visa choice for you!


Offshore Partner Visa


This is the one you apply-for usually when your Filipina lady is outside Australia when you lodge the application. This is visa-of-choice when the couple marry inside the Philippines. 

So must be MARRIED…..or you MAY apply if you are about to marry, as long as you marry before they finalize the Subclass 309 visa application. 

OR you may be in a DE FACTO RELATIONSHIP! 


Onshore Partner Visa


This is the visa you apply for if the visa applicant is inside Australia. This usually means she’s there on a Tourist Visa. 

And for this one? Must be MARRIED. OR in an ESTABLISHED DE FACTO RELATIONSHIP! CANNOT apply unless you have either one of those in place! No exceptions!


Established De Facto Relationship. What is it?


The key word is “established”!

You CANNOT apply to commence a de facto relationship. There is no try-before-you-buy option! Cannot say “I want a partner visa, and we’ll start living together once we get it”.

So no, it doesn’t work like that! 

So please do not fill out our assessment form and say “We’ve spent three weeks together sipping cocktails by the swimming pool in a nice resort in Boracay, and we are a de facto couple” because you are not!


De Facto Relationship


A de facto relationship is a shared-life relationship that is genuine, permanent and to the exclusion of all others! It’s like being married without a marriage certificate. It’s NOT a choice for those not ready to commit. The commitment is expected to be there. 

Seriously? If you’re not ready to commit, you are not qualified for any partner visa. Better you should wait until you are. Get her a tourist visa, and let us know if things change!

What de facto relationship means is that you:

  • Have set up house together
  • Have your belongings there together in your principal residence which you share
  • You have combined your private finances together
  • You have purchased things in joint names
  • You socialize together
  • People know you as a couple
  • You have planned your future together

AND you need paperwork to prove this! Plenty of it!


How long do you need to BE in a de facto relationship?


To qualify as having a de facto relationship for an Australian Partner Visa application?

Twelve months together! One year!


What if you’ve spent time apart?


Part of the definition of a de facto relationship in the Migration Regulation says that you “live together, or not apart on a permanent basis.” That means you may have time apart during the 12 months if this is unavoidable. If you START a de facto relationship and she has to return for a while because of visa requirements (eg a multiple entry tourist visa), then this is OK as long as your relationship continues. 

But you need to START the relationship as a committed shared-life couple first! Saying “We feel committed, but haven’t met in person yet” won’t cut it!


What if we register our relationship?


You may register your de facto relationship as long as your state of residence allows this. Currently (2024) Western Australia and Northern Territory don’t. Other states do! Each state has their own rules and qualifications. You need to contact your state Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages to see if you qualify.

This will allow you to reduce the 12 month period. There is no “set time period”, but 6 months is the considered rule-of-thumb if your relationship is registered.


  1. CANNOT register a relationship if either of you is still legally married to someone else, and
  2. You STILL need to prove that you are leading a shared life! Getting the certificate doesn’t remove that requirement. 


OK, what happens if we CAN’T marry (or don’t want to!), yet haven’t set-up-house together?


We get plenty of this! The commitment is there, but you’re not there yet. A bit like those who DO intend to marry, but have’t done so yet.


Can Down Under Visa help you?

Yes we can! 


Can we help you quickly?

We can start helping you quickly, yes. But we can’t apply for a Partner Visa for you get because you don’t yet meet the criteria set out legally in the Migration Regulations. No, we have no “clever” schemes. Those who know us know that we work within the rules and don’t ever bend them! 

We can guide you in every step you need to take to spend the right amount of time together and to put those things in place which a committed couple puts in place. We make sure you don’t forget anything, just as we do in a standard partner visa application. 


Too much to explain in detail here. 


  • If this is you?
  • Or if you ARE in an established de facto relationship?
  • Or you THINK you probably are in an established de facto relationship?


The click the link below and get a FREE VISA ASSESSMENT done, and let’s see if we can help you to make your dreams come true!



Free online visa assessment form from Down Under Visa



Jeff Harvie is a Registered Migration Agent from Australia, but resident in Philippines since 2010 with his Filipina wife Mila and large extended family. Experienced with the Philippines culture, cross-cultural relationships and bureaucracy as well as Australian visas and Australian Migration Law, he writes with authority and fortunately with enough informality and humour that the average Aussie gets it! Down Under Visa specialises in visas for Australians in relationships with ladies and gents from Philippines, Thailand, China and Vietnam. Read MORE


Ross and Eva – Happy Down Under Visa clients
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