Employment and Migration Blog

Partner Visas: Proving a genuine relationship

Posted by Lisa Qiu on 22 Sep 2016

If you have a partner overseas (spouse or de facto) and you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can sponsor your partner to migrate to Australia. 

One of the common issues faced by visa applicants and their sponsors, is demonstrating to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) that they have a “genuine and continuing relationship.” If the DIBP doesn’t believe you have a genuine and continuing relationship, the application will fail. 

So, how do you prove that you’re in one?

The factors the DIBP will take into account include:

  1. Financial aspects of the relationship such as joint ownership of real estate or bank accounts and whether household expenses are shared by both of you
  2. Nature of the household such as joint responsibility for children, shared living arrangements, shared housework
  3. Social aspects of the relationship such as whether friends and family see you as a couple 
  4. Commitment to each other including duration of the relationship, length of time together, degree of companionship and emotional support, and whether you both see the relationship as a long term one.

It is one thing to say that these aspects are evident in your relationship, and it is another thing entirely to prove it to a third party, because of course, most people don’t formally document all aspects of their relationship! If you’ve been living together for some time, it will be easier for you to provide documentation to demonstrate a genuine and continuing relationship. 

However, sometimes it’s difficult to prove a genuine and continuing relationship, more so in the case of arranged marriages, where the duration of courtship is sometimes considerably less than a non-arranged marriage, and where it may be difficult to demonstrate that the couple has spent time, alone and together, as a couple. 

Does that mean that a partner application involving an arranged marriage is doomed to fail? Absolutely not. 

If a marriage is recognised in the country in which it took place, it will most likely be recognised under Australian law, but this doesn’t automatically mean the visa application will be approved, because the visa applicant still needs to demonstrate they’re in a “genuine relationship.” 

If a visa application doesn’t contain supporting documentation to demonstrate the factors outlined above (financial, shared household etc), then it is vital that the visa applicant and the sponsor explain to the DIBP why certain information or documentation is unavailable. This would include an explanation of the cultural practice of arranged marriages, and any cultural or religious beliefs that may shape the nature of the relationship, such as not being able to live together before marriage. 

If you need assistance with the visa application process, contact our Employment Law and Business Migration team, Registered Migration Agent, in Parramatta and Norwest: