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Hi All,

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask but I'm getting a bit worried after researching online and I don't know if anyone can help with suggestions etc until I can make an appointment with a specialist immigration lawyer.

The backstory is that myself (28), and my partner (29), met online. I live in the UK, she lives in NSW.
We've been talking since April 2018 online and in July 2018 I went over there to meet her for the first time in person for 2 weeks. I will next be visiting for 5 weeks through October 2018.

I work in Retail Management but don't have any qualifications or work in a profession that is considered to be on the skilled occupations/skilled shortages list. She is currently doing her law degree and is a "single mum" with 3 kids who relies on her Centrelink (welfare) payments to survive.

I'm concerned that despite being of a good financial status my lack of qualifications or experience in any of the skilled occupations will preclude me from getting a work visa.

I've been looking into partner sponsored visas and a prospective marriage visa as it seems like the only other option.

I'm concerned however that to meet the criteria for the partner sponsored visa that we will have had to live in a de-facto relationship for 12 months. If I can't get a work visa, how can I stay there for 12 months to be in a de-facto relationship with her, as I understand that even if I travel fairly often to see her that is not classed as a de-facto relationship. Also, if we are in a de-facto relationship (as required for the visa) even if I live overseas this will mean that her Centrelink (welfare) payments are stopped which is not an option.

To me it seems the only option is to get a working holiday (417) visa to get me onshore to accrue the 12months of living together to qualify for being in a de-facto relationship to be eligible for the partner sponsored visa.

My only concern is how long it will take for the temporary portion of the partner sponsored visa to be approved- if my working holiday visa runs out before the temporary portion of the partner sponsored visa is approved I will then have to return to the UK, how long will this be for?
How long does approval of the temporary portion of the visa take to be approved?
What would happen if we've been in a de-facto relationship for 12 months but when I have to return to the UK, will we no longer be in a de-facto relationship?
Will this mean that this visa is refused?
Is it possible to get a bridging visa from the working holiday visa to the partner sponsored visa to allow me to stay and work in Australia?

I've done a fair bit of research but I'm still quite confused. The only other option I can see is to try and ensure I stay onshore throughout the process to make sure that she is able to survive and I can provide an income to the household would be:

Working Holiday visa to start our de-facto relationship
*THEN*
somehow do 3months of regional work to qualify for a second year of Working Holiday visa to remain on-shore and maintain our de-facto relationship
*THEN*
as soon as this second year is approved I apply for the partner sponsored visa and hope that this is accepted temporarily within the 12 further months I can stay

OR

Working Holiday visa to start our de-facto relationship
*THEN*
apply for a prospective marriage visa to get a 9 month buffer where I can stay in aus and maintain our de-facto relationship
*THEN*
apply for the partner sponsored visa

My concerns still rest on how quickily the temporary portion of these visas take to be approved and whether they will be approved whilst I'm still on-shore? (the same question for prospective marriage visa)? Also, if it means I have to return to the UK for a certain period of time can I still count this as part of our de-facto relationship?

Sorry for the massive essay I've written but I'm getting a bit panicked that this is going to be impossible and I'd be heartbroken if we can't make this work.
 

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I can't comment on the Centrelink issues and how they are linked to visas and partner status. But in general, if you are in Australia on a valid visa (eg Working Holiday Visa) and without further stay condition, you can apply onshore for the 820/801 Partner Visa (assuming that at that time you qualify for the defacto relationship requirements). Once your existing visa expires, you automatically get a bridging visa whilst you wait on the outcome of your partner visa application. This briding visa comes with full work rights. However, be careful that you don't misrepresent your intentions when applying for the original visa to Australia.

Another alternative you can consider is to apply offshore for the Prospective Marriage Visa, move to Australia and then apply to the 820/801 once there. The Prospective Marriage Visa is intended exactly for those people who do not yet qualify for a defacto relationship status. You cannot apply for this visa onshore though.

It sounds like you need some more clarity on visa options so it is a good idea to consult with a Registered Migration Agent (RMA). This can but does not need to be an immigration lawyer. If you get an Australia based RMA (several recommended ones post on this site) they can give professional advice on options.

One final thing to note - being in a defacto relationship does not require you to live together, but expect any period apart to be scrutinised. Consulting with an RMA will also be helpful for you to understand exactly what the evidence requirements are.
 

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A WHV in your case might be a good idea, it would give up to 2 years to build the relationship.

Working might be a requirement as when your partner advises Centerlink she is in a relationship, that will effect her payments. A single parent with 3 kids under $80,000 a year gets a lot of $'s from Centerlink.
 

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I would go WHV to establish the relationship and start getting all the documentation required, photos and time together etc, you prob have to except that you will have to spend periods apart while you await visas further down the track...pretty much unavoidable.
 
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