Australian partner visa answers

Thursday Answers tries to answer all your partner visa questions that you’ve been too nervous to ask. These are the responses to questions submitted by readers on our regular Ask Mondays posts.

Every Monday I ask people to send in their questions and concerns and I select one to answer. In doing this, I hope you will see that a) you’re not alone in this, b) there are no stupid questions and c) we’re all here to help!


John and I met when we were travelling around Southeast Asia. We travelled together for around 5 months and then he came to Australia to be with me. Can we claim those 5 months of travelling for the 12 month rule?


I know this one all too well from experience. My partner and I met on our travels and the rest as they say is history. But does it make a de-facto relationship? That is the crux of the question.

Don’t forget that the 12 month rule is about being in a de-facto relationship, it’s not just how long you’ve been together. A de-facto relationship requires that you can show 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 Department makes a distinction between a casual relationship and a de-facto relationship. The threshold that I always tell my clients (and readers) is to prove to the Department that you are more than just girlfriend/boyfriends. You need to have committed to sharing a life together to the exclusion of everyone else and prove that the relationship is a continuing one.

So ask yourself during those 5 months of travel, did you both consider yourselves to be in an exclusive relationship with a commitment to share your lives together?

I can imagine that having just met in Southeast Asia, you spent the 5 months getting to know each other and understanding everyone’s quirks and habits. You may have felt that John is the man that you’ll be with for the rest of your life from the day you met him, or perhaps, vice versa, but it is unlikely that the Department will consider those 5 months as part of a de-facto relationship. The length of time that you’ve been together and the history of the relationship is important evidence to demonstrate to the Department that you’re in a de-facto relationship and unfortunately your relationship sounds too new to be considered more than a casual relationship.

Another thing to consider is that the Department still requires that you satisfy the 4 aspects of the relationship. When travelling together you may have been sleeping in the same hostel and same room but you would have shared that with other people too. That might not fly under the ‘living together’ requirement. Additionally, in a de-facto relationship, you’re assumed to share financial responsibilities and when you’re travelling and just starting out in your relationship it’s more than likely that you and John paid for everything separately and individually.

The final kicker is that in order to be considered in a de-facto relationship you must commit to share a life together and be in a genuine and continuing relationship. You only recently made long-term plans together when you decided that you’d like John to join you in Australia.

All in all, it is unlikely that those 5 months of travelling together would be considered as part of the 12 month requirement of a de-facto relationship.

BUT there is hope if you’re willing to plan and get things lined up now so that your application will be easier to prove down the line. In my book I talk about what makes a de-facto relationship and how you can show that your relationship is more than just a girlfriend/boyfriend/casual relationship. I also go through the option of registering your relationship which can help you apply for a partner visa with registered relationship or this conundrum of applying for a partner visa without living together.

That concludes this week’s Thursday Answers.

Until next time,


P.S Don’t forget to send me your questions! Use the contact form here or send us an email.

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Australian partner visa guides download 2019