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De Facto Relationship Visa

De Facto Relationship Visa Philippines to Australia

Australian Partner Visas for De Facto Couples

You feel you are in a de facto relationship (aka defacto relationship) with a lady from the Philippines, or you want to be in a de facto relationship, and you want to bring your Filipina lady to Australia and live together permanently. Is this a mere formality, or is it complicated? We’ll clear this up for you.

de facto relationships or defacto relationships, which is an option to apply for an Australian partner visa from Philippines


Information contained in this page is of a general nature. Informative, yes, but not a formula for preparing visa applications and should not be relied on as such. The devil is in the detail, rest assured. Australian migration law is complicated and Departmental decisions are inflexible and often final. Readers and future visa applicants and sponsors are advised to rely on professionals to ensure a happy outcome.

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You can apply for a partner visa based on one of two scenarios:


For an Onshore Partner Visa (ie. a partner visa applied-for inside Australia, with the Filipina applicant inside Australia when the visa application is lodged) you need to be legally married when we lodge the application. For an Offshore Partner Visa (ie. a partner visa applied-for outside Philippines, with the Filipina applicant outside Australia when the visa application is lodged) you can be either legally married now, or will marry before the application is finalized (ie. not too long afterwards!)

De facto relationship

We may also apply for an Australian Partner Visa (either onshore or offshore) for Australian Filipina couples if you are NOW in an EXISTING de facto relationship for *12 months or more. That means EXISTING. It does NOT mean you can get a partner visa and then start living together as a de facto couple. Sorry. There are no partner visa options for this, and you need to accept this. And you need to also accept that you can’t expect the Department of Home Affairs (Immigration) to give you a 1 year tourist visa either, so you can build up the required 12 months for the relationship to be seen as long enough. Tourist visas are not designed for living-together purposes, and they will refuse such applications. *Note: This may be reduced under some circumstances, where you have a Registered Relationship. Right now these are available only in certain states, and each state has its own requirements. And note you cannot get a registered relationship if still legally married. Read more: Registered Relationships

What is a de facto relationship

Couple De Facto RelationshipA de facto relationship is a committed and exclusive relationship where you lead a truly shared-life together. Living together. A “live-in relationship”, as they call it in the Philippines. Setting up house together. This requires a large number of very specific things to be in place, and generally a large number of changes in your lifestyle. A de facto relationship is like a marriage minus the marriage certificate. You live together in a committed relationship to the exclusion of all others, and share your life together as if you were a married couple. That means a shared life, where you think and act as “us” rather than “me”. In other words it’s more than just sharing a roof and sharing a bed. It means a full commitment, and not just trying each other on for size to see if you wish to take things further. The commitment needs to have already happened, and it needs to be with the intention of remaining together forever.

But how can we do this if we can’t get a 12 month tourist visa?

Firstly, remember that an Australia visa is a grant and is not a “right”. Don’t approach the Department as a service agency where they have a duty to make this easier for you. They don’t. You have to do the work. Secondly, look at the FAQ below. You need to start living together (either in Australia or Philippines, or a combination of both) and you need to set up a household that reflects your shared-life together, but if you need to be apart due to unavoidable circumstances (like a lack of a 12 month tourist visa), this is not actually a problem.

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De Facto Relationship Pros and Cons

(In addition to pros and cons for other partner visas)

De Facto Relationship pros and cons

  • May be applied-for when either or both partners are still legally married, as long as precious application is definitely finished
  • Does not require annulments and/or divorces
  • As long as de facto relationship has started and continues, it is possible to be apart when unavoidable
  • Registered Relationships can shorten the time required to be in relationship
  • Requires a lot of evidence, ie far more than an ordinary partner visa application
  • Requires time spent living together before an application is lodged
  • Requires the same level of commitment to a shared-life together as any other partner visa, and this needs to be proved
  • Requires being in a de facto relationship for 12 months before applying, unless in Registered Relationship
  • Registered Relationships do not exist in every Australian state
  • Registered Relationships are not applicable when either party is still married

De Facto Relationships – FAQ

We lived together for 12 months. Does that mean we’re a de facto couple?
Maybe. But there’s more to a de facto couple than just sharing a roof or even sharing a bed. They’re looking for evidence of a solid commitment to a shared-life together. Living together could just mean you were flatmates.
I visited her a lot in the Philippines over the years, and she visited me in Australia for three months. Are we in a de facto relationship?
Unless you actually “set up house” together, you will have difficulty in proving you have a shared-life. Visiting isn’t enough it itself.
We never lived together but we feel in our hearts that we’re a de facto couple.
I feel like the world’s greatest supermodel, but that doesn’t make me one. The Department are charged by Australian law to ensure the letter of that law is followed. They look for cold hard facts, and not warm fuzzy feelings.
We lived together for 5 years, but we kept our finances separate.
It will be difficult to prove a commitment or a shared-life if you maintain financial independence from each other.
We have kids together. Is that enough?
Making babies can be just a biological function. You can get a lady pregnant and not even like her, let alone be in a committed relationship with her. So no, not enough in itself.
Can we get a de facto visa and then start living together?
No. You must be already in that established relationship when you lodge the visa application.
Does it matter that one/both of us are still married?
It’s not an issue, as long as the previous relationship is well and truly over and your current relationship is exclusive.
We didn’t spend the whole 12 months living together because of work commitments.
The definition in the legislation says “They live together, or not apart on a permanent basis”. If you need to be apart due to work or even visa limitations, you may do so as long as your relationship continues in the interim. But you need to have commenced living together.
What if I can’t stay in Philippines?
You don’t have to. It’s perfectly acceptable for your partner to apply for a tourist visa to come and stay with you if it’s for legitimate and genuine reasons. Genuine reasons include visiting you to enhance your relationship.
Does that mean she can stay with me for 12 months?
Tourist visas are for visiting. They are NOT substitutes for partner visas, and if you apply for a 12 month partner visa so you can live together, it will be refused. Please read: Can I get a one year tourist visa?
When would a de facto relationship start?
It would start when you commenced living together properly. Not when you were at a resort, or when you had a shopping trip in Singapore. It commenced when your joint household was established. NOTE: It never starts the same day you meet!
How do we know if we are in a de facto relationship?
Contact Down Under Visa, and we will assess your situation.

Have A De Facto Relationship Question Not Answered Above?

De Facto Relationship ask a question

Now, over to you the client (or potential client)! We value our clients opinions, and we believe in keeping all well-informed. What would YOU like to ask about de facto relationships? What do YOU think needs a bit more explanation? Ask below, and Jeff Harvie RMA will answer your question for you and for others wondering the same thing.


  1. Wayne Favaro

    Hi Jeff,
    My partner has a multiple 3 month tourist visa and she arrived on July 6th 2018. If she arrives on multiple occasions, leaves and returns for a period of 12 months does this count towards a defacto relationship so we can then apply for a partner visa? We will live together and share finances and have both of our names on bills. We are both legally married but she has been separated for over 5yrs and me for 2yrs. Thanks in advance.

    • Jeff Harvie

      Hello Wayne

      Yes, most definitely. As you can see by the information on the page that it’s not necessary to be under one roof for 12 months. You need to COMMENCE a de facto relationship by setting up a household together, but if you need to be apart whilst complying with visa rules? This is OK. And you need to ensure you do commence living a shared-life together, not just live under one roof. Suggest you get our guidance with this, and we have a lot of experience with this and what the Department like to see.

  2. Jenny

    Hi Jeff wanna ask I just have a baby this year and his 5months now his father is a Australian citizen and I’m still a Philippine citizen and my baby is Australian citizen! I want to ask if what I have right as a mother of my son? For example the relationship doesn’t work and because I’m not Australian! I wanna know what right I have for my son f my partner won’t let me take my baby to meet my family to the Philippines and to make a Philippine citizen so he can have both what f ur partner won’t allowed u to do that? Is he allowed to do that to me?control everything about it cause I’m Australian citizen?is right though? Regards Jenny

    • Jeff Harvie

      This isn’t a de facto relationship or a visa issue. No one will take your baby away from you, but the baby’s father also has rights to ensure you don’t take his child away from him. I would suggest that you get some legal advice, because this is a Family Law matter.

      • Jenny

        Thank you sir Jeff helps a lot!

        • Mai C.

          Good day! My fiancee is an Australian and he is also my childhood sweetheart and family friend as well..He is already widowed and we had the relationship last 2018 and he proposed to me but i am stull legally married but we are already parted ways almost 3 years and he already had a partner also. He visit philippines last 2018 and also i had my vacation and last dec 2019. He supposef to get me a visit visa but unfortunately my mother died last march 2020 and because of the pandemic. He is in victoria, he wants to register our relationship as de facto.. is it possible? thank you and have a good day!

          • Jeff Harvie

            He may register your relationship as a de facto couple, however this is NOT the only evidence needed for a partner visa. You will need a lot more. If you want help, I seriously suggest you get a free visa assessment.

  3. arthur courtney

    my Filipina girl friend is comming to australia in a few weeks on a 12 month vistor visa to see if she wants to move here,,,if she does and we want to get married ,,should she return home and apply for a Prospective Marriage Visa to return here,,can we marry before she goes home and apply for a spouse visa?,,,how long does the Prospective Marriage visa take?,,,or is there a better way to go?

    • Jeff Harvie

      If you didn’t want her to return, you may apply for a partner visa while she’s still in Australia. Just be aware that it’s a LOT more complicated than a tourist visa to apply for, so don’t expect to do it in a hurry. And I would recommend professional help.

      • arthur courtney

        hi,,how much does a spouse visa cost?,,,my phone number is 0405934667

        • Jeff Harvie

          That depends on a number of things, Arthur. Suggest you use the assessment form on this page. It will take you five minutes. I can give you options and costs there.

          • arthur courtney

            done mate

    • Rosemarie Santiano

      Hi, i was in a tourist visa 3 months ago and living with my bf on that time. Now i applied for multiple visa and if it would be granted, we plan to apply for de facto when i get there. Im still married but 5 yrs separated. What we should have to prove that we are living together. Bills are all in his name coz that’s his house before. We don’t have joint accounts either. Only pics and messages are we have now that we are in a relationship….. And also do u have an office in Adelaide? How can we contact you if we can apply for de facto if im already in Australia.

      Thanks ?

      • Jeff Harvie

        Please complete one of our online visa assessment forms. There’s a link at the top right hand corner. We don’t have an Adelaide office, sorry. However we deal with clients all over Australia and all over Philippines without anyone having to visit our office.

  4. luzviminda

    our relationship been almost 4 years now since we met 2015, he’s been to the Philippines a couple of times and I have visited Australia as well, my civil status is married but been separated for 7 years now, he’s separated more than 25 years tho not divorced yet we stay/live together in same house Philippines/Australia…tho i am just home based not working, been dependent on him financially, he’s a builder and so were planning to go for a De Facto Visa if its possible? I have already been on multiple entry visa/tourist visa..may I know if we are qualified? and what are the requirments/documents we need? 12months of being together physically, i counted the times of our travels/visit to each other is 438 days in total is that enough? thank you for your time

    • Jeff Harvie

      Hello Luz. I can’t assess you here in the comments section. Just above you is a link to a free online visa assessment form. It will cost you nothing and it will take you five minutes. Then I can advise you properly. Hope we can help you both.

  5. Marlene Manhire

    My ex husband has been going back and fourth from phillippines last 5 years if he were to die can she claim his estate if he were to die
    She has a child to some one else and he has 5 children in Australia

    • Jeff Harvie

      Sorry, but I can’t answer a question like that. I’m surprised anybody would ask such a ghoulish question.

  6. Michael Doyle

    Hello. How do I go about getting my defacto relationship happening as my Philippines girlfriend has been living with me for one and a half months now . Does it costs?

  7. Keith Greenbury

    We have been living together for the past 6 years and have been running a business together for the past 4 years in China. Due to the COVID crisis our business was closed down and we were forced to leave China. I went back to Australia and she went back to the Philippine’s as we had no time to apply for a visa for her to come to Australia as everything escalated so quickly. We were already planning on moving to Australia together in 2021 and to buy a home together and hopefully expand our business. Obviously everything has changed, we want to be together. What options do we have? Is she able to come to Australia at the moment? We are worried that with international flights suspended that we might be apart for many years. It is already too hard now and it has only been a few months. What are our options, are there any exceptions?

    • Jeff Harvie

      Yes there are exemptions for spouses, including de facto spouses. Keith, strongly suggest that you do an online assessment (free and quick!) and I can assess your case and explain your options.


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What if I want to start a de facto relationship?

This is a common scenario. The couple can’t get married because of an existing marriage and/or a lengthy annulment procedure. Annulments can take 12 months or more, and depend on many factors. There is no no-fault divorce in the Philippines. Sometimes this can drag out for years. Is there another way of doing this?

Yes, there is. You CAN commence a de facto relationship by establishing a home together and commencing living a shared-life together. And when you have 12 month history, we may apply for a partner visa based on that relationship.

Down Under Visa manage a lot of partner visa applications from Philippines to Australia, and that includes a lot of de facto relationships too. So we do know all about them, and we can help you in ensuring that you do in fact have a genuine de facto relationship that would be acceptable by the Department.

Start a De Facto Relationship

Down Under Visa are Registered Migration Agents with a great deal of experience in lodging successful partner visas for Australian-Filipina couples in defacto relationships. We provide a De Facto Relationship Preparation Service which is a series of learning modules that that will guide you how to prepare yourselves and to have everything in place so that you will be ready to start preparing a successful partner visa application.

We will also provide the same learning modules to clients already in defacto relationships, to help them fine-tune their much more-detailed visa requirements to prove that the defacto relationship is in fact a genuine defacto relationship.

And when we’re getting closer to the 12 month time, we can start preparing the actual partner visa application itself. Please read: De Facto Planner

Yes, this looks like what I need. What do I do now?

Go to and complete our free visa assessment form online.

And make sure you select “de facto relationship” as relationship options for both you AND your partner, and complete the de facto relationship assessment questions at the bottom. Then wait for Jeff Harvie to get back to you.


Further Reading

Want to read more about De Facto Relationships? Check out some of our de facto relationship BLOG posts below.

De Facto Partner Visas For Australia

De Facto? Or Marriage? Advice for Australian Filipina Couples

Registered Relationships and De Facto Visas

De Facto Partner Visa Applications. Easy?


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