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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I am an aussie citizen, wanting to sponsor my girlfriend for an onshore partner visa (she is currently on student visa until end of 2011). We have been together for approx 9 months, although due to existing leases are not currently living together. We plan to move together quite soon. My question is regarding the cohabitation requirement.

We have had a consultation with a migration law firm who provided us with the following advice - "As discussed in our consultation, we recommend that you apply for your visa once you are able to evidence 6 months cohabitation." This came as a surprise to us as from the little research we had done it seemed 12mths cohabitation was required. The migration agent was adamant that this correct and that 6mths cohabitation is required, if we have already been in an exclusive relationship living apart for 9mths.

Today I waited in line at the IMMI to get an extremely rude young guy brush me off half way through my question with (loudly in front of 50 other people in line) - "You need to live together for 12mths to the day and if you have a problem with it just get married. NEXXXT".

Reading the IMMI documentation it is not conclusive either way. Wording is -
- "Show that you and you partner have been in a de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application"
- "Show that you and you partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary"


Can anyone shed some light on this? I was inclined to organise the application myself but if I am going to have to deal with such unprofessionalism from IMMI the whole way through I would rather let the migration agent deal with it.

Thanks.
 

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Hi,

I am an aussie citizen, wanting to sponsor my girlfriend for an onshore partner visa (she is currently on student visa until end of 2011). We have been together for approx 9 months, although due to existing leases are not currently living together. We plan to move together quite soon. My question is regarding the cohabitation requirement.

We have had a consultation with a migration law firm who provided us with the following advice - "As discussed in our consultation, we recommend that you apply for your visa once you are able to evidence 6 months cohabitation." This came as a surprise to us as from the little research we had done it seemed 12mths cohabitation was required. The migration agent was adamant that this correct and that 6mths cohabitation is required, if we have already been in an exclusive relationship living apart for 9mths.

Today I waited in line at the IMMI to get an extremely rude young guy brush me off half way through my question with (loudly in front of 50 other people in line) - "You need to live together for 12mths to the day and if you have a problem with it just get married. NEXXXT".

Reading the IMMI documentation it is not conclusive either way. Wording is -
- "Show that you and you partner have been in a de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application"
- "Show that you and you partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary"


Can anyone shed some light on this? I was inclined to organise the application myself but if I am going to have to deal with such unprofessionalism from IMMI the whole way through I would rather let the migration agent deal with it.

Thanks.
hello Bretto your question is a good one that i wouldnt mind knowing the answer to.As you say the advice is conflicting
 

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The information on the web site may seem conflicting and more so for people wanting it to seem that way because they want to attempt cutting corners.
I do not know how much clearer you can get than
"Show that you and you partner have been in a de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application"
- "Show that you and you partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary"
If you think about it, why would each of you having a lease stop you from living together for if you maintain you need to uphold each lease it sounds like you intend to meet the fiancial commitment of it anyway.
That being the case, you can still meet the financial commitment and move in together.
You could attempt to use the reverse reasoning but that could also give a less certain result and so why do it?

If you look at the 12 months relationship requirement link there are examples under CAQ.
You want to play lets try and interpret this our way, just remember that Immi records in the past have shown many applications get rejected.

There is also a waiver for the 12 months you can get if you are residing in the ACT, NSW, Tassie or Victoria by getting a relationship registration but you'll still need to have evidence of a relationship as per Booklet #1.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies so far.

Please do not take my line of questioning as trying to cut corners. I am at the start of researching this process and would like to have all the facts on hand. I do not claim to have any prior experience in immigration matters, therefore I paid good money for professional advice. If this advice is not accurate then I will be going back and asking for the matter to be escalated to someone more senior in the firm.

Regardless of our previous living arrangements, we will be renting our own place soon. So this 6 or 12mths cohabitation rule needs to be clear up front.

For what it's worth, I still consider the following statements ambiguous -
- "Show that you and you partner have been in a de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application"
- "Show that you and you partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary"
1. In a de facto relationship for the entire 12months prior. This matches the legal advice I received, 9mths living apart, 6mths living together in the future.
2. Doesn't specifically state you must have been living together for the last 12mths.

So all in all, I do need to go back and clarify. Either way, I will begin gathering the required evidence and get on with living out lives.
 

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Defacto means living together so it does state this explicitly. See below for definition:

What is a de facto relationship?

The term "de facto relationship" is defined in the Property (Relationships) Act.

Since June 1999, the definition has been widened to cover ALL relationships between two adults (over the age of 18) who:

live together as a couple; and
are not married; and
are not siblings or a parent or child of each other.
This means that homosexual couples are now covered by this law.

What issues are relevant?

The law lists a number of issues that must be considered in assessing whether a de facto relationship exists. These include:

how long the relationship has lasted;
whether you both live in the same house;
how the household duties are done;
how far your finances are intertwined;
whether you own assets together;
the care and control of any children of the relationship;
whether outsiders see you as "de facto";
· whether you intend the relationship to be permanent etc.
 

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So all in all, I do need to go back and clarify. Either way, I will begin gathering the required evidence and get on with living out lives.
That's good and if you want to have an application submitted based on living together for six months I would ask the legal people you are using whether they will guarantee the result and see whether you get an ambiguous answer.
 

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I have the same problem with the conflicting advice. A friend of mine who works in a different department in immi did the research for me and said that you can apply if you haven't been living together for 12 months but you need to be able to prove that you have been in a DeFacto relationship for 12 months. confusing i know. He also was told that the reason so many immi staff tell people 12 months is that they arnt trained correctly for all visa types.
Also i would complain about the person you dealt with. they were beyond rude. also id quote in the complaint what you have quoted here and ask someone higher up the chain to clarify for you.
 

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Hi there Bretto,

I have also seen in the PAM (which is the procedures and advice manual for immigration agents and COs) that de factos need to show at least 6 months of cohabitation. I managed to get hold of an old copy of the PAM, but it seems that this has not changed, since the agent also advised you to show at least 6 months.

I would like to point out the word 'evidence' in your agent's advice. I interpret that as meaning couples may have lived together for 12 months or more, but they need to show physical evidence of at least 6 months in the form of a documents. And from what Silentsleeper says, this seems to be kinda true, as his contact states that they at least need to prove they have been in a de facto relationship for the 12 months before applying.

Regardless of the conflicting lengths of time, I think it's best to try wait until you have been living together longer before you apply. And I also think you should to try and call immigration over the phone via their hotline. Maybe you'll get a much calmer and nicer answer to your questions. And definitely lodge a complaint about that rude staff member you dealt with.
 

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Hey Brett, we are in a similar situation as you guys. We meet the 12 month requirement in total, but have had a period of separation for 7 months.

Let me explain - we meet overseas, fell in love and lived together for 9 months. I then had to leave and come back to Australia for family reasons. My partner stayed on and then went back to Brazil (where he's from). We maintained our relationship whilst being apart and saw each other briefly for 3 weeks for my brother's wedding in Thailand. My partner then came out to Australia in July this year on a 2 year student visa, and we have been living together since then.

We have been researching the defacto visa for some time now - and have yet to get a clear answer on whether we can apply now, or if we need to have lived together consecutively for 12 months before applying.

I have called immigration twice recently. The first time I was told that we would not be able to meet the minimum requirements as we have not lived together for the past 12 months. The second time I called I was told that the immigration officer will look at a number of criteria, not just the 12 month requirement, and that if you can prove your mutual commitment and genuine and continuing relationship (and that you support each other emotionally, financially etc), and that separation if any is only temporary.

We ideally want to apply for this visa soon if we can, so we are meeting with immigration next week to see if we can get a clearer answer.

Fingers crossed we get a straight answer. I didn't realise that information about the 6 months cohabitation in the PAM, thanks for sharing aussie girl.
 

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Hi Ems,

The PAM is updated often, and as I said, the version I looked at said that 6 months cohabitation is evidence of a genuine committment as a couple. However, I saw another post from ozmikail that this part of the PAM seems to have been removed in the newest version.

Keep in mind that as of July this year, COs were adivsed that processing times should be extended, owing to ASIO being overworked and the overall change of the governments' stance on maintaining a "small" Australia. I think DIAC is going to be going over all visas apps much, much more thoroughly, so it's best to satisfy the 12 months in my view.
 

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Hi Ems,

The PAM is updated often, and as I said, the version I looked at said that 6 months cohabitation is evidence of a genuine committment as a couple. However, I saw another post from ozmikail that this part of the PAM seems to have been removed in the newest version.

Keep in mind that as of July this year, COs were adivsed that processing times should be extended, owing to ASIO being overworked and the overall change of the governments' stance on maintaining a "small" Australia. I think DIAC is going to be going over all visas apps much, much more thoroughly, so it's best to satisfy the 12 months in my view.
aussiegirl,
Do you recall the context of the clauses that you saw six months mentioned and whether there was reference to other clauses/conditions etc.
Reason I ask and why I have said I'll stay tuned with interest is that it is possible there could be sections of PAM that do mention six months and yes going back some years the length of relationship was six months.
Exactly when it was changed I have no idea.
Other reasons could be that six months may be what they are guided by for TR visa defacto applications or it could be a minimum period where a temporary separation has occurred, though CAQ example given is an 8/4 split, it could be where separation reason is rock solid and possibly other conditions applying a 6/6 may be acceptable.
 

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OK,

I've combed the part of the PAM that I have and found the mention of 6 months cohabitation. Mind you, this version looks like it's from Feb 2000, so a lot of changes could have happened since then.

6 months living together is metioned in relation to Regulation 1.5A!1A)(b)(ii) - the assessment of a 'genuine and continuing relationship'. Here's a quote from the PAM:

"If 2 persons have been living together at the same address for 6 months or longer, that fact is to be taken to be strong evidence that the relationship is genuine and continuing, but a relationship of shorter duration is not to be taken to not to be genuine and continuing only for that reason"

Regulation 1.15A is the definition of "spouse" as used in Immigation Law, and is spells out the criteria used to assess spouse relationships for the purposes of granting or refusing visas.

So, it seems COs used to see 6 months living together as a good indication of a serious relationship. But, it's only mentioned in regard to the assessment of a genuine relationship, since the PAM also mentions that de facto couples must have been in a committed, genuine and continuing relationship for the 12 months directly prior to lodgement.
 

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The period I know of when for a defacto, six months was sufficient was before 2000.
Even with no change possible since 2000, there's one key word there not to be overlooked -
Regulation 1.15A is the definition of "spouse"
And it is not surprising to see a differentiation for spouse.

And with
but a relationship of shorter duration is not to be taken to not to be genuine and continuing only for that reason"
To me that in effect means if a married couple have been together for six months, that is evidence to suggest a bonafide relationship but less than six months will not alone mean that a relationship is not considered bonafide and that is reasonable given people may apply for a spouse partner visa in being married but a short time but have other evidence of a longer term relationship.

The main clarification for most people asking the question where they have not been married is
since the PAM also mentions that de facto couples must have been in a committed, genuine and continuing relationship for the 12 months directly prior to lodgement.
 

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Hi,

I am an aussie citizen, wanting to sponsor my girlfriend for an onshore partner visa (she is currently on student visa until end of 2011). We have been together for approx 9 months, although due to existing leases are not currently living together. We plan to move together quite soon. My question is regarding the cohabitation requirement.

We have had a consultation with a migration law firm who provided us with the following advice - "As discussed in our consultation, we recommend that you apply for your visa once you are able to evidence 6 months cohabitation." This came as a surprise to us as from the little research we had done it seemed 12mths cohabitation was required. The migration agent was adamant that this correct and that 6mths cohabitation is required, if we have already been in an exclusive relationship living apart for 9mths.

Today I waited in line at the IMMI to get an extremely rude young guy brush me off half way through my question with (loudly in front of 50 other people in line) - "You need to live together for 12mths to the day and if you have a problem with it just get married. NEXXXT".

Reading the IMMI documentation it is not conclusive either way. Wording is -
- "Show that you and you partner have been in a de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application"
- "Show that you and you partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary"


Can anyone shed some light on this? I was inclined to organise the application myself but if I am going to have to deal with such unprofessionalism from IMMI the whole way through I would rather let the migration agent deal with it.

Thanks.
I thought I'd tell you about my situation in the hope it might answer your questions.

My partner and I have been together 5 years but at the time of lodging our application we had only been living together 3 days short of 12 months. Our case officer told us there and then that she wouldn't accept our application until we had lived together exactly 12 months so we had to alter our dates by 3 days so she would take our application.

She was very firm on this so I would suggest you don't take the risk!
 

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Hi,

I am an aussie citizen, wanting to sponsor my girlfriend for an onshore partner visa (she is currently on student visa until end of 2011). We have been together for approx 9 months, although due to existing leases are not currently living together. We plan to move together quite soon. My question is regarding the cohabitation requirement.

Can anyone shed some light on this? I was inclined to organise the application myself but if I am going to have to deal with such unprofessionalism from IMMI the whole way through I would rather let the migration agent deal with it.

Thanks.
Hi. I agree it is ambiguous, and some of the "requirement" interpretation is left to the Immigration Officer.

My case: I am a US citizen living in Hong Kong. My de facto partner lives outside of Brisbane. We had known each other for several years (having communicated first by email, and then via Skype) before meeting face-to-face. When we finally met in person, we decided to become a couple.

I am an Asia Pacific rep for my company, and the AP regional office is based in Hong Kong. I cannot do my job and live in Australia at the moment. My partner works for the QLD government, so of course, must stay in Oz.

We established "cohabitation" in several ways. I opened a bank account with a nice chunk of change, got an Aussie credit card, got a QLD driver's license and bought part of my partner's house. We have both our names on the title (and the rates!).

We fulfilled all of the requirements for the first part - being in a bona fide relationship, with evidence, for greater than one year.

I was granted the de facto temporary residence, but when the Immigration Officer gave me the visa, she told me quietly that it was clear we were in a loving and enduring relationship, but we really didn't satisfy the "living together" arrangement. She was correct. We did not have a six-month both-in-the-same-house relationship, even though it was clear, from my passport, that I was flying to Brisbane a LOT and that my partner had come to Hong Kong twice in that first year.

It helped that I was on the deed to the house. It shows permanence. I think the immigration department really wants to see a joint financial commitment, for which a lease, or a deed usually provides confirmation.

We are a mobile society these days, and all of our immigration laws are getting tougher (remember, I'm from the US!). Just be thankful Australia allows for de facto couples!

Susan in HK
 

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Hi. I agree it is ambiguous, and some of the "requirement" interpretation is left to the Immigration Officer.

My case: I am a US citizen living in Hong Kong. My de facto partner lives outside of Brisbane. We had known each other for several years (having communicated first by email, and then via Skype) before meeting face-to-face. When we finally met in person, we decided to become a couple.

I am an Asia Pacific rep for my company, and the AP regional office is based in Hong Kong. I cannot do my job and live in Australia at the moment. My partner works for the QLD government, so of course, must stay in Oz.

We established "cohabitation" in several ways. I opened a bank account with a nice chunk of change, got an Aussie credit card, got a QLD driver's license and bought part of my partner's house. We have both our names on the title (and the rates!).

We fulfilled all of the requirements for the first part - being in a bona fide relationship, with evidence, for greater than one year.

I was granted the de facto temporary residence, but when the Immigration Officer gave me the visa, she told me quietly that it was clear we were in a loving and enduring relationship, but we really didn't satisfy the "living together" arrangement. She was correct. We did not have a six-month both-in-the-same-house relationship, even though it was clear, from my passport, that I was flying to Brisbane a LOT and that my partner had come to Hong Kong twice in that first year.

It helped that I was on the deed to the house. It shows permanence. I think the immigration department really wants to see a joint financial commitment, for which a lease, or a deed usually provides confirmation.

We are a mobile society these days, and all of our immigration laws are getting tougher (remember, I'm from the US!). Just be thankful Australia allows for de facto couples!

Susan in HK
On first glance it could be suggested Susan that what you have described is not so much ambiguity and more good luck in finding a CO and their supervision who has been prepared to not just stretch the regulations but some may say they have been prepared to break them, especially if their own interpretation was that you didn't meet the full relationship requirement.
It is btw not just six months for defacto relationships but twelve.

Where the variation may be acceptable is if there is some valid reasoning and in your case the CAQ gives an example re employment, even if separation in that example is for just four months of twelve.
That you have the property purchase, licence etc. to support your application would have helped also.
 

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Hey Bretto,

I feel you must be confused and it's never easy dealing with the immi they have this kind of reputation now.

Anyway, my partner and I are also going for spouse de factand almost ready to apply. I'd say have evidence of living 12 months together. A lease would be secured evidence in my opinion but there are other ways to demonstrate you have been living at the same residential address in a de facto relationship through your stat decs of friends and family who have visited you at that place and letters sent either in both your names or separate but showing same address for the time you have lived at the same address with your partner.

Maybe when you are writing your stat dec about your relationship with your partner include a reason to why you moved out together and not for the reason of obtaining evidence but rather that both of you wanted to live in a better place or a more private place together.

Hey, I know you are genuine and just starting this mind staking task but grit your teeth when immi are rude because they see it as guilty until proven innocent whereas lawyers believe innocent until proven guilty (I think).

Move out together knowing that it is for your relationship and it's something you both want to do as a couple and present this idea to immi. Living on the lease together for 12 months as evidence will definitely help though in my opinion because immi is not living with you how do they know how you really feel about each other in an application? So this is why you need to be official in the way you present your evidence as they are official in the way they examine your relationship. This is just in my opinion.

Hope it helps :)
 

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Hey Bretto,

I feel you must be confused and it's never easy dealing with the immi they have this kind of reputation now.

Anyway, my partner and I are also going for spouse de factand almost ready to apply. I'd say have evidence of living 12 months together. A lease would be secured evidence in my opinion but there are other ways to demonstrate you have been living at the same residential address in a de facto relationship through your stat decs of friends and family who have visited you at that place and letters sent either in both your names or separate but showing same address for the time you have lived at the same address with your partner.

Maybe when you are writing your stat dec about your relationship with your partner include a reason to why you moved out together and not for the reason of obtaining evidence but rather that both of you wanted to live in a better place or a more private place together.

Hey, I know you are genuine and just starting this mind staking task but grit your teeth when immi are rude because they see it as guilty until proven innocent whereas lawyers believe innocent until proven guilty (I think).

Move out together knowing that it is for your relationship and it's something you both want to do as a couple and present this idea to immi. Living on the lease together for 12 months as evidence will definitely help though in my opinion because immi is not living with you how do they know how you really feel about each other in an application? So this is why you need to be official in the way you present your evidence as they are official in the way they examine your relationship. This is just in my opinion.

Hope it helps :)
Becky, people need a clear idea of what Immigration regulations are about and posting a mixed message does nothing for clarity.

First of all, lets take Bretto's case and I do not deny that he may have been confused but it would not seem to have been Immi's advice that did it.
They do not have six months mentioned for defactos.
Bretto claims the site wording is inconclusive re:
Reading the IMMI documentation it is not conclusive either way. Wording is -
- "Show that you and you partner have been in a de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application"
- "Show that you and you partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary"
The Immi site even gives an example for a temporary separation.

Bretto posted more because of what some lawyer or whomever told him and he considers an Immi counter jockey got up his nose because he didn't want to waste time with someone who wanted to question what is stated quite clearly.

Now to your post and why it does not help as much as it could.
First.
Immi have regulations legislated as they are dealing with thousands of applications weekly in many different locations and obviously different people assessing and so they need regulations so as at least to get close to some uniformity.
As for
how do they know how you really feel about each other in an application?
They cannot fully and that is why they ask about commitment and do interviews but what is more important is hard factual evidence.
So this is why you need to be official in the way you present your evidence as they are official in the way they examine your relationship
And that is a reasonable opinion, far better than what you opened with, ie.
but there are other ways to demonstrate you have been living at the same residential address in a de facto relationship through your stat decs of friends and family who have visited you at that place
Statutory declarations can be questionable in the absence of hard factual evidence such as leases, bills in joint names and other dated correspondence to a common address.

Putting an opening like
I feel you must be confused and it's never easy dealing with the immi they have this kind of reputation now.
I do question where you get that view from for if people accept that there are regulations to be complied with to have eligibility, they may have a better chance rather than taking the approach that maybe they will understand why we do not fully meet the regulations and accept that.

There are many people who have posted on this forum and used the approach of accepting the regulations who have been successful in attaining visas and also many who have found Immi quite helpful.
I have contact with Immi myself from time to time, both verbal and written and though there can be times when something more could have been hoped for in response communicated, they are minimal.

So unless you have sound grounds for stating something like
they have this kind of reputation now.
I would suggest that is very much out of place.
 

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Becky, people need a clear idea of what Immigration regulations are about and posting a mixed message does nothing for clarity.

First of all, lets take Bretto's case and I do not deny that he may have been confused but it would not seem to have been Immi's advice that did it.
They do not have six months mentioned for defactos.
Bretto claims the site wording is inconclusive re:

The Immi site even gives an example for a temporary separation.

Bretto posted more because of what some lawyer or whomever told him and he considers an Immi counter jockey got up his nose because he didn't want to waste time with someone who wanted to question what is stated quite clearly.

Now to your post and why it does not help as much as it could.
First.
Immi have regulations legislated as they are dealing with thousands of applications weekly in many different locations and obviously different people assessing and so they need regulations so as at least to get close to some uniformity.
As for
They cannot fully and that is why they ask about commitment and do interviews but what is more important is hard factual evidence.

And that is a reasonable opinion, far better than what you opened with, ie.

Statutory declarations can be questionable in the absence of hard factual evidence such as leases, bills in joint names and other dated correspondence to a common address.

Putting an opening like

I do question where you get that view from for if people accept that there are regulations to be complied with to have eligibility, they may have a better chance rather than taking the approach that maybe they will understand why we do not fully meet the regulations and accept that.

There are many people who have posted on this forum and used the approach of accepting the regulations who have been successful in attaining visas and also many who have found Immi quite helpful.
I have contact with Immi myself from time to time, both verbal and written and though there can be times when something more could have been hoped for in response communicated, they are minimal.

So unless you have sound grounds for stating something like

I would suggest that is very much out of place.
It's better I not post or contribute anything to this forum taken your response
 
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