social aspects of the relationship partner visa guide australia

Last updated: 11 December 2023

The Social Aspects Of The Relationship

The elements of the relationship have variously been called ‘pillar’, ‘aspect’ and most recently ‘factor’ by the Department. They change the name of these elements as much as they change their name (which is why I often just call them The Department). However, the basic 4 element/pillar/aspect exists: financial, nature of the commitment, nature of the household and social aspects of the relationship.

When I first started writing my book it was called ‘aspects of a relationship’ and you’ll still see this in the forms despite them undergoing a name change. You will also see many other sites use different names for it but it all means the same thing: there are 4 things to a relationship that the Department wants you to prove and today I’m going to explain the social aspect of the relationship and how you can provide evidence to support this.

Social Aspect of the Relationship is more than photos

Proving the social aspects of the relationship between the applicant and the sponsor requires more than just submitting photos.

This is an extremely important point to note that submitting photos is not enough to satisfy this aspect and if you have been instructed to only do this then your migration agent has again missed the finer points of the law.

There isn’t an exhaustive list on what is considered the social aspects of the relationship but the legislation has stated the following:

  • whether the persons represent themselves to other people as being married to each other; and
  • the opinion of the persons’ friends and acquaintances about the nature of the relationship; and
  • any basis on which the persons plan and undertake joint social activities; and

When the legislation explicitly says something, you listen up and you better be sure to answer each and every point because you know the case officer will be assessing you against them.

So let’s go through what each point means and help you answer how to give details of the social aspects of the relationship.

Whether the persons represent themselves to other people as being married to each other

Although this point references spouses/married couples (remember, same-sex marriage is legal in Australia so this applies for same-sex married couples too), it equally applies to de-facto partners. There’s a corresponding point in the definition section regarding de-facto couples.

At the minimum, this point is asking whether the applicant and sponsor show up as a couple or present to the outside world that they’re together in a committed and exclusive relationship.

This means you and your partner are known to be a couple because you tell everyone you’re a couple. It sounds simple, but you would be surprised as to how many people do not know how to express this.

For example, some couples are not very touchy feely in public or otherwise known as ‘public displays of affection’ so when they go out to social events, people do not know that they’re together nor would they assume that they’re together. That is, the couple has done nothing couple-like for anyone at the social event to think that they are in a relationship, let alone a relationship.

Thankfully you will have chosen supporting witnesses to write glowing and supportive statutory declarations and they would know that you’re a couple but really, when it comes to a partner visa application, everything needs to be spelt out so that the case officer can confidently say ‘yes, the evidence matches this point exactly’.

This means that you need to describe in your own statutory declarations about meeting family and friends and introducing your partner as your partner. If you’re introducing your partner as a friend or if your friends only know at the end of the night that you two are together, chances are the case officer will not believe that you’re in a genuine and committed married or de-facto relationship.

The opinion of the persons’ friends and acquaintances about the nature of the relationship

This is the part where your supporting witness statements (aka Form 888s) will come in handy because they will be able to corroborate whether you represent yourselves as being married to each other or in a de-facto relationship with each other.

Notice how acquaintances are included in this. This means pretty much anyone who knows you and your partner currently should think that you two are married or in a de-facto relationship.

When your supporting witnesses are writing their statements or Form 888s they should be careful in what words they use to describe the applicant and sponsor because you need to show the case officer that your relationship is beyond dating.

For married applicants, this seems like an easier hurdle to overcome because you probably refer to each other as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ and in our society these are generally accepted to imply that you are indeed in a marriage.

But when it comes to talking about a de-facto relationships, it’s not as clear cut; especially with the increasing use of the word ‘partner’ to describe someone you do not want to call ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’.

The book provides many questions to help your supporting witnesses in writing their Form 888s and gives you samples of good and bad Form 888s so that they can see what to avoid and what to include.

Any basis on which the persons plan and undertake joint social activities

“Social activities” can be defined very broadly but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. For all the introverted couples, have no fear, you can still prove this point about your relationship.

The case officer is really looking for whether you do things together as a couple and generally if you hang out with each other. Once again, a distinction should be made between whether you’re an exclusive couple doing social activities together or whether you are housemates that play a regular game of rugby on the weekend.

What I mean by this is that sometimes when I review applicant statutory declarations, they often write about going places, doing things with their partner but it doesn’t sound like they’re together. It sounds like they’ve just gone out with their friends to have drinks and one of those ‘friends’ happens to be their spouse or de-facto partner.

When you write about your spouse or de-facto partner, do not friendzone them!

The number one social activity would be to travel together. Extended periods away with each other are good evidence that the applicant and the sponsor likes each other. Doing activities together on the weekend could prove to the case officer that you’re not coworkers. What I’m trying to get you to write is how does your social activities as a couple differ from social activities that you would do with friends or coworkers?

The book goes through a few of these confusing scenarios and how you can really distinguish your relationship from one that is more common of a friendship. Basically, I’ll show you what others have written so that you can understand that you shouldn’t be describing a friendship, but instead a committed, exclusive and genuine married or de-facto relationship.

The book also goes through some examples and how to prove this aspect during COVID-19. During the pandemic our social activities were severely limited so it might seem impossible to prove this point but I go through some really good examples in the book and provide some sample statutory declarations to illustrate this point.

The Australian Partner Visa Guide provides samples, examples of evidence and answers to the question

The social aspects of the relationship are not hard because you probably already spend all your time together. However, writing about the social aspects of your relationship may be difficult when it could end up sounding like you’re just really good friends who do a lot of things together. Worse still, it could sound like you’re coworkers or housemates.

The book provides you with examples on what has been written previously by successful and unsuccessful visa applicants and it also provides you with a helpful guide on how to organise your evidence. There’s nothing worse than disorganised and disjointed evidence that the case officer has to piece together themselves.

The book also has handy prompting questions for the applicant, sponsor and supporting witnesses with some sample answers that could help you write your statutory declarations, personal written statements or Form 888s.

Download the sample to see what’s inside or get access instantly so that you can get cracking on preparing the most successful partner visa application ever.


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