Partner Visas and the 12 Month De-Facto Requirement
We frequently come across couples who are confused by the minimum requirements in order to lodge a de-facto Partner Visa. In order to lodge a Partner Visa on a de-facto basis, you will be required to demonstrate to the Department of Home Affairs that you have been in a de-facto relationship for a period of 12 months (Reg 2.03A of the Migration Regulations 1994). The criteria applies at the time of application. This means that if you lodge an application, fail to meet the criteria and are subsequently refused, it can be difficult to turn this decision around at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Therefore, it is important that this requirements is correctly understood before you lodge the application. This will save you a lot of heartache further in the process.
This 12 month criteria can be waived in certain circumstances. Namely, when registering your relationship or alternatively getting married. Relationships cannot be registered in every state. For example, you cannot register a relationship in the Northern Territory or Western Australia. You will need to be mindful of this when planning when to lodge your Partner Visa. However, getting married or registering your relationship does not guarantee your visa will be granted. It merely removes the requirement to demonstrate that you have been in a relationship for 12 months. You will still be required to establish that you are in a genuine and continuing relationship. Depending on your circumstances this may be challenging even if you are married or have registered the relationship. For example, you may encounter issues if you have a very short relationship or you do not have much evidence to prove the relationship.
Is Cohabitation Necessary?
This is a frequently misunderstood aspect of proving that you are in a de-facto relationship. Applicants are often advised that they need to provide evidence that they have been living together for 12 months. This is incorrect. Cohabitation is only one aspect that will be considered, amongst others, to prove that a couple has been in a de-facto relationship. Many applicants use the date of cohabitation, as the starting date for being in a de-facto relationship. However, this does not mean that you are unable to lodge a visa application if you have not been living together. This will be of particular interest for couples in long-distance relationships and those who live apart due to family, cultural or religious reasons.
How We Can Help
If you are looking to lodge a Partner Visa, feel free to reach out and book a consultation to discuss your circumstances. We can assess the level of relationship evidence you are bringing to the table and provide advice on the likelihood of success. We can also assess whether you are meeting key eligibility criteria like Reg 2.03A to ensure that you are lodging a valid application. The visa fees associated with a Partner Visa are hefty and a refusal can make things incredibly complicated including potentially being caught by section 48 of the Migration Act. Don’t risk your relationship. Book a consultation today to sit down with an experienced professional and get the ball rolling.