People wanting to migrate permanently to Australia as the de facto partner of their Australian sponsor are required by the Migration Regulations to be in a relationship with that sponsor for at least one year before they can make a valid visa application. This is commonly referred to as the '12 month rule'.
The one-year relationship requirement applies whether the spouse visa application is made onshore or offshore.
Applicants seeking to demonstrate a de facto relationship with their partner must provide evidence for the period covering at least twelve months immediately prior the visa application being lodged. That evidence should cover the following:
- the applicant and sponsor had a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
- the relationship between them is genuine and continuing
- they live together, or do not live separately and apart, on a permanent basis.
Living together is regarded as a common element in most on-going relationships. Applicants and sponsors who are not currently living together may be asked to demonstrate a high level of proof that they are not living separately and apart on a permanent basis.
Evidence that is considered in determining whether the applicant and sponsor are in a de facto relationship
Some of the factors that will be taken into consideration in determining whether the applicant and sponsor are in a de factor relationship include:
- knowledge of each other's personal circumstances
- financial aspects of the relationship, joint financial commitments such as real estate or other assets and sharing day-to-day household expenses
- the nature of the household, including living arrangements and joint care and responsibility for any children of the relationship
- the social aspects of the relationship, provided in statements (statutory declarations) by friends and acquaintances
- the nature of the commitment, including duration of the relationship, how long the couple has been living together and whether they see the relationship as a long-term one.