De Facto Relationship for Australian Visa

Applying for a Australian De Facto visa or evidencing a De Facto partner relationship

If you are applying for a Partner visa on the basis of a De Facto relationship (common law) to your sponsor, or if you want to include your partner in your PR application, you must be able to show that you have been in this relationship with your partner for at least the entire 12 months before the date you lodged your visa application. In assessing a de facto partner relationship the department usually looks at evidence of such things as living together full-time, sharing important financial and social commitments, and setting up a household separately from other people.

Periods of ‘dating’ would not generally be considered to count towards the 12-month relationship requirement. If your relationship has been on a more casual basis – e.g. you travelled together and shared accommodation, but you each had your own money, paid your own expenses and made no long term plans for your future until recently – you may not be able to meet the one-year relationship requirement. You may need to establish your relationship for a longer basis before you make the decision to apply for partner migration.
Couples who have registered their relationship under the laws of an Australian state or territory are exempt from the 12 month requirement, but must still satisfy all other criteria regarding genuineness of the relationship.
We will provide you with specific advice in this regard when you appoint us
Brief overview:
When submitting evidence of a de facto relationship, applicants must be able to demonstrate that their relationship has existed for at least one year before the application is made. Evidence may include but is not limited to:
The history of the relationship through a signed statement (affidavit / statutory declaration) regarding:
  • how, when and where the couple first met
  • how the relationship developed
  • the couple’s domestic arrangements, that is, how they support each other financially, physically and emotionally and when this level of commitment began
  • any periods of separation, when and why the separation occurred, for how long and how the couple maintained their relationship during the period of separation
  • the couple’s future plans.

These statements should be from the applicant, partner, family and friends (and where possible, Australian citizens)

Financial aspects of the relationship, such as:
  • joint ownership of the house or joint names on a lease
  • correspondence addressed to the couple at the same address
  • details of financial commitments including bank statements, and any joint liabilities.
The nature of the household, such as:
  • any joint responsibility for the care and support of any children
  • the couple’s living arrangements including sharing responsibilities within the home.
Social context, such as:
  • evidence that the couple is generally accepted and recognised as a couple socially such as joint invitations
  • evidence of common friends
  • assessments by the couple’s friends and family of the relationship
  • joint travel or joint participation in sporting, social or cultural activities.
The couple’s commitment to each other, such as:
  • the duration of the relationship including knowledge of each other
  • intention to have a long term relationship, for example, through terms of their wills
  • correspondence and telephone accounts to show that the couple maintained contact during any periods of separation.
  • A sample of photographs showing you and your sponsor together at various occasions.
  • any other evidence which you consider demonstrates a genuine and continuing relationship (example: joint club membership, evidence of holidays taken together (such as photos and flight tickets) or shared interests or activities).
Frequent Questions:
My partner and I met when we were travelling around the world and realise now that we want to remain together. Does our time travelling together count towards the one year requirement?
If your relationship has been on a more casual basis you are unlikely to be able to establish that you are in a de facto relationship. This may be the case if, for example, during your travel, you shared accommodation but you each paid your own expenses, were not committed to a mutually exclusive relationship and made no long-term plans for your future until recently.
To be considered a de facto couple for migration purposes, you must not be related by family and be able to demonstrate that:
  • you have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
  • your relationship is genuine and continuing
  • you live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis.
  • The factors that might be taken into account by the department in assessing whether you are in a de facto relationship include the history of the relationship, social and financial aspects of the relationship, the nature of the household and your commitment to each other. The one year de facto relationship will only commence from the time you can demonstrate you are in an established de facto relationship.
We have been in a de facto relationship for longer than one year but, as my job in Australia does not allow me to travel to my partner’s country, we have only lived together for eight months. Will I be eligible to sponsor my partner on a partner visa to Australia?
Despite not living together for one year, your partner may still be eligible for a partner visa. It is expected that couples will have physically lived together at some time since they committed to the relationship. However, it is recognised that couples may be physically apart for periods of time, for example, due to work or travel commitments, yet remain in a genuine and continuing relationship and are committed to a shared life to the exclusion of all others.
In assessing whether you are in a de factor relationship, the department may take into account a number of factors other than periods of physical cohabitation such as the history of the relationship, social and financial aspects of the relationship, the nature of the household and your commitment to each other.
My partner and I met over the internet and we established a close relationship before we had physically met. Can the time since we began our relationship before meeting be considered as part of the relationship requirement period?
No. In order to be in a de facto relationship, you must be able to demonstrate that you have met and have lived together, even if you later lived apart temporarily. The one year relationship requirement will only commence once you have established a de facto relationship.
I have been living away from my partner to fulfill a work contract and therefore cannot satisfy the one year relationship requirement. Does this qualify as a compelling and compassionate circumstance?
There is no clear definition of compelling and compassionate circumstances as it requires an assessment of the individual circumstances of the case.
Compelling and compassionate circumstances may include, but are not limited to, applicants who have a dependent child of the relationship or where the laws of the applicant’s country of residence in the one year prior to making the visa application prohibit de facto relationships.  

Legal Library 

10.2 ‘Living together’ does not require cohabitation

Officers should not read ‘live together’ in s5CB(2)(c)(i) as necessarily requiring the de facto partners to be cohabiting, that is, residing together under the same roof.

There may be circumstances where, although they are not residing at the same address (but are instead for instance maintaining separate residences), the couple have an ongoing de facto relationship and are, in terms of s5CB(2)(c), living together.

Cohabitation is regarded as a common factor in most ongoing de facto relationships and supports a view that the partners ‘have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others’. However, an absence of cohabitation is not in any way in itself conclusive proof that there is no de facto relationship.

It is accepted that partners to an otherwise ongoing de facto relationship may be living together, even though living separately (but not ‘apart on a permanent basis’), that is, for quite valid reasons that do not impugn the integrity of the relationship.

10.3 If the partners are not cohabiting

For purposes of s5CB(2)(c), if partners to a (claimed) de facto relationship are not cohabiting (living together at the same address), officers must consider whether or not the couple are:

• living together or

• living separately and apart on a temporary basis or

• living separately and apart on a permanent basis.

It is open to officers, having regard to all the circumstances of the relationship, to require the couple to provide a higher level of proof of the existence of a de facto relationship in circumstances where the couple is not cohabiting.

10.4 The partners must be living together (or at least be living apart only temporarily)

If the partners to a (claimed) de facto relationship are not living together, officers must consider whether or not the couple is living apart on a permanent basis or simply on a temporary basis. Partners who are not living together may be required to demonstrate a high level of proof that they are not living separately and apart on a permanent basis.

If partners who are (or until recently, were) living separately claim that their separation is (or was) not permanent, officers need to consider the partners’ reasons for the (temporary) separation. It is accepted that partners to an ongoing de facto relationship may be temporarily separated for a variety of reasons such as, for example, frequent travel for business reasons or an unexpected family emergency.

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