Proving a De Facto Relationship when Applying for a Partner Visa

If you are in a de facto relationship with an Australian permanent resident or citizen, it is possible to apply for a partner visa on this basis.

Many applicants fail in their applications because they do not understand how to prove that they are in a de facto relationship.

This article explains some of the finer details in evidencing a de facto relationship.

What is a De Facto Relationship?

A de facto relationship is where you are living together in an exclusive relationship with your partner, but are not formally married. Same sex couples can also be recognised as de facto relationships under Australian Immigration law.

If you show that you are in a de facto relationship, you may be able to apply for a partner visa or include your partner in your visa application.

How Long Do I Need to Be in a Relationship?

In general, you would need to show that you have lived with your partner, or at least not apart on a permanent basis, for the last 12 months to apply for a partner visa.

This requirement must be met as of the date you make your application. Even if you can show that you have lived together for 364 days when you apply, your application would not normally succeed unless you can prove a full year of living together before the application is lodged.

The 12 month rule applies to most permanent and provisional Australian visas. For temporary visas, it is possible to apply with less time living together.

Are there Exemptions to the 12 Month Cohabitation Requirement?

You may be able to show that you are in a de facto relationship in some circumstances, even if you have not lived together for the full 12 months. These would include:
  • Where you have registered your relationship with an Australian state or territory government; or
  • There is a dependent child of the relationship; or
  • You are not permitted by law in your home country to live with your partner

How Do I Prove that I am Living With My Partner?

The most common way to prove that you are living with your partner is to provide evidence that you share the same residential address - this is referred to as "cohabitation".

Usual evidence to establish this would include:

  • Property lease
  • Property ownership - eg title deed, rates notice, mortgage documents
  • Postal correspondence addressed to either or both of you at the same address

Can I Use Time Spent Travelling with my Partner as Cohabitation?

If you have travelled with your partner for an extended period, this can in some circumstances be used as evidence of cohabitation.

However, it is important to show that you have moved in with your partner prior to the travel taking place and have established a joint household.

What if We Have Spent Time Apart?

To prove a de facto relationship, you must show that you live together, or at least not apart on a permanent basis.

If you have started living together, but then one partner moves temporarily due to external circumstances, it may still be possible to make a successful application.

External circumstances which may be acceptable include study, work or visa issues. It is important to show that you maintain close contact even though you are apart.

Is Showing that we Share the Same Address Sufficient?

Cohabitation is only one of the factors the Department of Immigration considers in proving a defacto relationship. You would also generally need to show:
  • Social Interdependence: that you are recognised by friends and relatives as a couple; and
  • Financial Interdependence: that you have pooled your financial resources to some extent

What if I am Still Married to Someone Else?

If you are married, but have separated and are living with a new partner, it is possible to show that you are in a de facto relationship with your new partner.

In this case, it is important to show that your relationship is exclusive - ie that your previous relationship has ceased.


Establishing a de facto relationship can be highly beneficial in making your application for an Australian visa, if done correctly.

If you would like advice on how to prove a de facto relationship, please book a consultation with one of our advisors and they can give you more information on the requirements.

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