I am not married to my partner in the formal sense, however my girlfriend and I did have a Buddhist wedding ceremony in Thailand. Does this count towards getting an Australian spouse visa?
Buddhist marriage ceremonies
Generally there is no confusion when it comes to marriage. It must be a marriage that is legally recognised in Australia pursuant to the Marriage Act.
Some countries, such as Thailand for example have other marriage like ceremonies, such as a Buddhist marriage ceremony. If you are getting married in a county like Thailand, to your Thai partner, this in itself is not a legally recognised marriage for Australian partner migration purposes.
That is not to say that you can’t get married in Thailand and apply for a partner visa on the basis of a legally recognised marriage, but the Thai Buddhist ceremony itself would not suffice. If you were to marry in Thailand it must be registered. Then a certified and translated copy of the marriage certificate must be submitted with the partner visa application.
If you are not legally married
If you are not legally married you may still be eligible to apply for a partner visa if you have been in a de-facto relationship with your partner. To be eligible for a partner visa on the basis of a de-facto relationship you generally need to satisfy the following criteria. Both the applicant and sponsor have been in a genuine relationship for at least the entire 12 months prior to lodging the partner visa application.
You need to be able to show you both you and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others and that the relationship is genuine and continuing.
What exactly is the definition of a de-facto relationship?
And, do we qualify?
Any applicant for an Australian partner visa must be legally married to their sponsor who must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
In assessing whether an applicant and sponsor are in a de-facto relationship you will need to show that you have been living together for the entire twelve months immediately prior to lodging the partner visa application. If there has been any period of separation during that 12 month period, then it must only be temporary.
When a partner visa application is submitted based on the de-facto relationship between applicant and sponsor, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will take into consideration all of the evidence that establishes the genuineness of the relationship, such as living together full time, the sharing of important social and financial commitment for example.
A partner visa based on a de-facto relationship is the most appropriate visa for same sex couples. Currently same sex couples are ineligible to apply for a partner visa based on marriage or a prospective marriage visa.
You can do the Australian visa application yourself and you can be successful!
Get all the help you need for YOUR successful visa application! Australian Tourist visa, Fiancé visa, Spouse visa and Partner visas. Find out more here: Australian Visa Advice.