Australian Spouse Visas – 12 Costly Misconceptions to Avoid

This article describes the evidence required for making a successful Australian spouse visa application as well as several other useful tips and hints on how to select the best professional adviser.


Not true as many couples do not have these important documents but still succeed. We can show you how to compensate with other even better evidentiary documents from yourselves, friends and family.

Evidence covers many categories above and beyond just your finances and includes the history of your relationship, the opinions of others about your relationship, proof of your travels together, your own personal statements about the depth and commitment of your relationship and many other relevant fields.


That may be true for your friend but, if your friend was jumping off a high cliff and over rocks into the ocean, would you jump too? None of us do everything our friends do – we need to make our own choices, especially in matters as important as love and migration where the risks are so high.


No! Spouse visas are only granted when you can also prove the relationship is genuine; being an Australian guarantees nothing on a spouse visa application. If it were otherwise anyone could just move in with or marry an Australian and obtain a visa.


Also not true; doing it on your own can take 4 -6 months or more, sometimes even over a year until approval. One client was waiting six months to just to get a government case officer before we intervened. We have had some of our client’s spouse applications approved in 1 day and aim for a quick approval of 2 -4 weeks in all cases. We get faster approvals because we prepare the whole case better.


Previous visa refusals almost always make subsequent applications harder as more evidence is required and you must prove good character for migration purposes and therefore sometimes apply overseas. Hence, it is better to make your first application succeed.


This is probably the biggest misconception of them all! No spouse case will ever be approved without substantial, credible and properly documented and organised evidence, preferably scrutinised by a lawyer (like the writer of this article) skilled in the art of vetting evidence for errors and or dangerous information which might otherwise prejudice your application


Not correct. Australian law states that you must either be legally married OR live in genuine de-facto relationship (monogamous/to the exclusion of all others) for 12 months before applying for a spouse visa. You do not have to do both. Furthermore, even if you are not married, you can start preparation for your spouse visa application before your 12 months of de-facto time is finished and then lodge the application as soon as it is.


This is a popular misconception, as everyone would like to believe that the Immigration officers are all honest, competent and skilful at discerning which relationships are real and which are not. However, like you, they are human beings and can be prejudiced against certain types of relationships, racist and even just overworked and incapable of giving proper attention to your application. You need the protection of a lawyer to deal with your case as they know how to deal with these issues upfront before and or as the problem occurs.


Good question – you might also ask why you need a doctor when you are sick or a mechanic to fix your broken down car. There are many things that most of us can do on our own but some that are best left to the experts. Essentially, in this type of case, you need not just any lawyer but an experienced migration lawyer who has also had lots of spouse cases approved – since 2000 we have had nearly 100 consecutive spouse cases approved without one visa refusal.


Yes to a certain degree that is true – who does start a romantic liaison by organising documents anyway? Answer; probably the fake relationships contrived for visas alone. However, that does not take away from the fact that you need to document the entire relationship in one way or another no matter how things got started. Once again, our skill and experience is to help you in that area.


We agree, neither should you marry just for a visa. Almost everyone wants to get married at the right time and for the right reasons. We would never encourage anyone to do otherwise. However, the act of migration sometimes forces people to bring forward important life decisions they could otherwise have put off and this is certainly the case here. We will advise you on this important matter personally at one of our interviews and in light of all your circumstances. In all cases, we always advise you to tell the truth.


Definitely not! Until late 2007, all migration agents who were not lawyers (and that is most of them), could get their license by doing a short course over 2 weekends. They literally could have been driving a taxi or cleaning houses one week and a few weeks later be dispensing migration advice to all and sundry after doing this ridiculously short course. Fortunately, that law has now changed and at least non-migration agents must have a university degree now to be admitted to a migration agent course. However, like anything else, just doing a course does not qualify you for being excellent in the harsh realities of the market-place.

Here are some of the tough but necessary questions you should ask any migration agent or lawyer before you hand them the enormous responsibility of ensuring your Australian spouse visa case will succeed:

I. Are you a practising lawyer as well as a registered migration agent or just a migration agent? If you are not a lawyer, why not? How will you deal with legal issues on our case?
II. How long have you been practicing in the area of migration law?
III. How many spouse cases have you had approved? If less than 50, then why?
IV. Have you ever had a spouse case refused and, if so, why?
V. Can you give me any authentic written testimonials (with contact details so I can verify they are true) of any of your spouse case clients that you have had approved? If not, why not?
VI. What percentage of your spouse cases is approved? If less than 100%, then why?
VII. Have you ever done a spouse case the same as ours? What happened?
VIII. Will you take a percentage of your fee only when my case is approved? If not, why not?

Author: Justin Rickard

Written by Mark

As the founder of Getting Down Under, Mark is passionate about demystifying the process associated with a move to Australia.
Having launched Getting Down Under in early January 2006 and made the move to Australia from the UK in the same year, Mark continues to share resources and support for those looking for assitance, Getting Down Under.

If you have a question for Mark, please post in our Forums

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  1. Hi there ,

    Myself ( Scottish ) and my husband Australian have been in a relationship from 2014 . We were engaged that year . 2015 I travelled to Australia with my husband ( He had been living in Scotland with me before this and married in Australia . We have two biological children , Also a child biologically mines whom I have full parental rights . My husbands parents own 180acre land with a home big enough for us all to live to begin with .
    Do you think we have a strong case for a spouse visa to be accepted ? .

  2. Hi Mark,
    I got married recently on 19th June 2017 in India. Ours is a proper arranged marriage. And at the moment I have the marriage certificate(legal) and the family photos which we have taken during the small function conducted with our close family. I want to submit my application for PR for myself and my wife. I am currently working in Australia on 457 Visa. Now I have the points to go for PR as I have got my PTE score just before I went to India for marriage.
    My concern is also related to the evidences the CO will be asking for.Here the problem is that the proof which i can produce will be
    1. Marriage Certificate.
    2. Family photos of both the families together taken during the function.
    3. Affidavit from both of our parents.
    In my case will it be difficult for processing the Visa or do I stand a chance.
    Please advice.

  3. Hi I have been an Austrlian Permanent Resident for the last seven years and have been residing in Australia. I married a person from my birth country in April 2017 and have lodged the spouse visa in June 2017. I will be reaching my mid 40’s next month. I want to try to have a child and need him to travel to Australia as I am unable to get leave off work to see him (only around 10 days leave is given around christmas). He is in a contract role overseas which will end next month. Is there a chance he will be given a temprory toursit visa till the grant of the permanent spose visa. The spouse visa might take close to another year and our chances of having a child will be much less as time goes by. I am really worried about this. Please advise me . thank you.

  4. Does your spouse having hepb low count and not on medication stop getting a spouse visa iam australian citizen cheers

  5. Hi
    Thank you for your time firstly
    I met a wonderful man online nearly 2 years ago, he lives in Pakistan and I’m an Australian citizen
    We meet up in Thailand but he hasn’t come to Australia nor have I been to Pakistan but we are so much in love and are planning to marry in January in 2018 in Islamabad (he has elderly parents, so we want to marry there first then marry again in Australia
    We hate being separated
    I told him I’m happy to move to Pakistan until and if his visa gets granted here
    If it doesn’t I will just have to move to Pakistan
    I’m nervous bc of all the craziness that’s going on in the world that it will be hard for him to get approved here bc he is Muslim (but a very beautiful spiritual Muslim )
    Should he apply from Pakistan to get proposed marriage visa 300 or wait til we are married and apply for 309 subclass 100 ?
    Sorry I sound a bit naive
    I really do appreciate your advice
    Many blessings

  6. Dear Mark,

    I have a very unique situation and hence need your advice. I got married on the 13th of December 2016 and intend to sponsor my spouse for residency to Australia. I am currently working as an academic in a university in Australia. Unfortunately, my contract expires soon. At present I have a job offer from Malaysia and also had an on-campus interview in the UAE. Now my question is that as an Australian citizen can I sponsor my spouse if I live overseas for employment purposes? Any response would be highly appreciated. I also want to bring to your attention that my spouse currently lives and works in the UAE.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon

  7. Hi good morning.
    I have an australian boyfriend and previously sponsored de facto visa with the other girl in 2014.
    What if we get married in other country, does he still require to wait for 5 years before applying for a spouse visa?

    • Most likely Pepps

      There is a waiver provision that allows your sponsorship to be approved earlier if the decision maker is satisfied that compelling circumstances affecting you exist. Compelling circumstances include, but are not limited to, those where:

      • His previous partner has died;

      • His previous partner has abandoned the relationship leaving young children;

      • your relationship with your current fiancé(e) or partner is long standing; or

      • you and your current fiancé(e) or partner have children of your relationship.

      The purpose of the sponsorship limitation is to prevent abuse of the partner migration programme and all aspects of your circumstances are relevant and taken into account when considering the waiver provision.

      The extent and importance of your ties to Australia as well as the consequent hardship/detriment that you would suffer if the sponsorship was not approved are also matters that are taken into consideration.

  8. Hi Mark,

    Your article is very useful. I’ve been in a long distance relationship with my Australian partner for a year now (I’m in the UK and he is in Australia). We have photos together as he visited me once in the UK and I visited him once in Australia. We also have a log of constant communication, people to support our relationship and a joint bank account in Australia. We’ve known each other since we were kids and we were together for a couple of years in the past so we have lots of photos and communication from previous years. We haven’t lived together for last twelve months but we have registered our relationship in Australia. I’m applying to go to Australia and apply for a de facto partner visa after 2-3 months of living together.

    Would this be sufficient for a de facto visa application?



    • Hi Kelly. Some infor from the department website about living together:

      “Living together is regarded as a common element in most on-going relationships. It is recognised that, for various reasons, couples may sometimes have to live apart. Provided the separation is temporary and the couple had, at some point since commencement of the relationship lived together, their relationship might still satisfy the requirements of a de facto relationship. For this reason, the one year relationship criterion does not require the couple to have physically lived together for the entire 12 months, but rather to have been in a de facto relationship for that period. Partners who are currently not living together may be required to provide additional evidence that they are not living separately and apart on a permanent basis in order to satisfy the requirements of a de facto relationship.”

      See here for more info which should help answer your questions around the likelihood of this information being sufficient.

  9. My partner and I have been together a little over a year and have a 3 month old son together. Because of unforseen circumstances we have only been able to live together for just shy of 6 months. My question is if we apply for a defacto spousal visa will it be ok that we haven’t lived together under one roof for 12 months? If it won’t be ok should we get married sooner rather than later as we were planning on marrying anyway?

    • Hi Kate

      There are 4 main aspects of the relationship that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will consider when assessing any partner visa application:

      – Social aspects of the relationship
      – Nature of the commitment
      – Financial aspects of the relationship
      – Nature of the household

      The big requirement is evidence. Text messages letters, emails, photo’s at social events together, joint names on utility bills etc. Being married is just one of the things DIBP would be looking for.

  10. I met my girlfriend who happens to be a retired australian citizen on facebook, we’ve being in a committed relationship for 9 months and I think it’s time for us to finally be together , am 26years and she’s 60. please I will like to know my chance of securing visa and a good migration lawyer that stays in redcliffe, brisbane.

  11. hello i want to marry my girl friend who is an international student who has been here in australia for 3 years. When i signed the marriage certificate i had a different occupation but now i changed it. will the government know about this?

    • Sorry Jake, your question doesn’t make much sense, unfortunately?

      You want to marry your girlfriend but you have already signed the marriage certificate? I’m a little confused. Sorry..

  12. hello
    thank you in advance for guiding people.. i was in australia from 2009-2014 and during that time met an aussie citizenship…we kept in touch through skype all these years..she wants to marry me if i was closer. and assuming she would sponsor me too..i have been living in denmark since 2016 till now..i am a well educated and have worked in australia for around 1.5 yrs..we both are same age do we go abou this..and what are my chances..only thing is she does not have a degree or stable source of income but that be improved..i am indian she is half white..
    please guide me thank you

  13. Hi there,
    I wa2s just wondering if it will make it harder for my fiance to get a spousal visa because of her lack of formal university education and skill set.
    We met over a year ago on a online dating site, she living in jakarta at the time and i australia.
    Ive kept record of all our skype and whattsapp conversation since the day we started chatting to the current day.
    We have since spent 3 holidays together 2 x in bali and once in manado north sulawesi which is her home town keeping photo records of course.
    I had been waiting to proceed with visa application until we married when i next visit in December but also until i was back working after a year off for personal reasons and until my house and land sell in my old town so as i could finance this little adventure in love, patience and paperwork.
    All that’s fsllen into place now so i was going to see a lawyer/agent soon but thought you may be able to give me some useful advice..
    Eg im hearing things from immigrants i eork alongside who tell me to marry offshore as application is cheaper etc etc…
    Just any advice really would help from yourself and others forum users..
    Please anyone with anything negative to say about she use you for visa blah blah hold your tounge please…she cares not for australian visa, she would prefer we live in sulwesi with her lovely family which i would love to do but i have a young daughter from my prior relationship i would not leave alone.

  14. hello my name is Lynette and my partner is from India and i am wanting to get a spouse visa for us to be able to stay together in Australia, can you please help me with what i need to do to start this application. his student visa expires soon.

    • Dont do it he is using you. I have been in this same situation. Now im paying for it. He married me to stay here faked his love. Had a kid so it was more permanant. Now he has left after his residency came through.

  15. Hi there,

    I am on 457 work visa which is expiring this year I got married in 2011 and my wife is here since 2013 in sydney, now I want to apply for a student visa what would happen if I do not include her in my application as I want to lodge my application independently. What kind of action she can take against me.

  16. Hello I am a Fiji citizen husband is australain citizen I have got married in 2013 lodged partner visa june 2015 offshore due to 8503 I didn’t go Fiji but came india to lodge now case officer wants india police clearance I am on tourist visa in india and indian law doesn’t allow tourist to be registered and be given a police clearance what to do will my visa be rejected if I cant meet character requirement. pleasehelp

  17. Hi my name is Ken and I’m an Australian citizen and my wife is a British citizen, we recently married overseas. Can I sponsor my wife who has a previous criminal conviction relating to fraud? She was convicted and sentenced to 14 months serving 3 months. She initially applied for An Eta in June 2015 to visit me and incorrectly ticket no on the question relating to previous criminal record. However realising her mistake she contacted Aus high commission in July and advised of her previous record. This went on for few months and her travel visa was refused on 21/4/16. Coincidently we registered our marriage on 25/4/16 overseas, We were introduced early last year by our families and continued our long distance relationship, through social media and FaceTime etc having met previously overseas in October. Can I still go ahead with a spouse application? What are the chances of approval? Her travel visa was rejected by a delegate of the minister. Many thanks

    • Hi Ken, firstly please be aware that i am not a migration agent so I’m not qualified to provide a formal answer. I’m happy to provide an opinion on the matter though and help where i can.

      In the first instance I would review the information posted by the Australian Immigration Department here:

      Specifically this document states:

      You will not pass the character test if:

      you have a substantial criminal record, meaning you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, or multiple sentences that add up to more than 12 months in prison. A suspended sentence is considered a prison sentence.
      you have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention, or convicted for an offence that you committed:
      while you were in immigration detention
      during an escape from immigration detention
      after an escape, but before you were taken into immigration detention again.

      On the basis that your wife was sentenced to more than 12 months then I would suggest that she would not pass the assessment and therefore would not qualify for a spouse visa.

      If you are seriously considering going down this path. I would seek the assistance of a migration agent that specialises in this space.

      All the best and good luck!


  18. Hi, I’m an Australian citizen, and have been living in the US wth my american husband for the last 5 years. We would like to move back to Australia now that we have 2 small children. I have no idea how to go about this. Is it easier if we find him a job that will sponsor him beforehand and then go from there? I would love to have your details to contact you and your lawyers for advice.

  19. I would personally never dare try to get a spousal visa on my own. Government is notorious for being a bureaucratic mess. In other words, there are a lot of hoops to jump through, and it is easy to get tripped up if you don’t know what kind of paperwork to file. It is always best to get expert help when dealing with things like visas.

  20. Hi, I have been in love with a man in Canada for nearly twenty years. We converse online though as I have not been able to afford to go there. He is on a disability pension and we would like to get married. Is there a possibility of him coming to live with me as my husband?
    What would we have to do?

  21. I am an Australian citizen who married a punjabi sikh brisbane cab driver because I loved him. He used me to apply for a partner visa, raped and assaulted me, was turned down after 1 year by Aust immigration for pr, got my signature on a blank form and appealed to mrt. This was heard and closed 1 year after the original decision and thrown out. Then he applied for a protection visa pretending to be a refugee. We are a country of kind hearted people and punjabi sikhs laugh at our kindness and destroy our lives. Never marry a foreign national.

    • Totally agree i married an indian. He used me for residency. Unfortunately this country Australia lets this happen and every site i look at is for helping the immigrants thefe is nothing to help the australian citizens who have been used and abused. I feel for you. Its happening everywhere its disgusting

  22. I married with a paper marriage not material relations . But lease and bank accout together. My partner is australian.Can I apply for spouse visa.

  23. I have married and I apply for partner visa but after one year have break up so what should I need to get a visa

  24. Hi Peng,
    I am in a de facto relationship for over 12 months and we have plans of getting married this year. If my partner’s 457 visa was lodged with that status and we got married the time it fell after the 457 visa was granted. Will I be nominated as partner/wife and apply for spouse visa? What do we have to do?

  25. Please advise me of your services and all costs required.
    Im australian & have been in a spousal relationship with a BC Canadian for almost 12mths we are engaged & cant wait to be married & settle together in Australia , does it matter what country we get married in Australia or Canada. I’m currently in Canada for 3mth & we hope to be able to return to Australia together in October & need to get advise & legal advice on how to make this happen as uncomplicated as possible….please email me ..thanking you kindly for all the above info ..Sue

  26. Good evening.
    I contacted you earlier re: looking for an immigration lawyer.Please reply to this email address, as I misspelt the other one.
    Thank you

  27. Good evening,
    I am looking for a qualified migration lawyer. Where are you based? Please email me back.
    Thank you.

  28. It’s Very nice Article and almost describing all things for which applicants wanted to know!
    but my case is different than the scenarios mention here.
    i got my PR last year but i have not made migration yet. and mean time i got i am living with my wife in saudi Arabia and planning to make migration in July.
    Can you pelase be kind to provide me info that am i eligible to apply for Spouse visa though i am not living in austrilia ?

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