Do I need to live together for 12 months before applying for a Partner Visa?

Are you considering applying for an Australian Partner Visa as a de-facto partner? 

This blog will walk you through the process’s intricacies, helping you understand the requirements, exceptions, and other crucial aspects to consider.

Understanding De Facto Relationships

In Australia, to be eligible for a de facto partner visa, you must meet several criteria:

  • Not Married: You and your partner must not be married to each other.
  • Mutual Commitment: There must be a mutual commitment between you and your partner, excluding all others.
  • Genuine and Continuing Relationship: Your relationship must be genuine and continuing, supported by evidence such as joint finances, shared responsibilities, and ongoing communication.
  • You are not related to each other by family.

Living Together: You must live together or not live permanently apart, although exemptions exist in certain situations.

The “12-month Rule”

Generally, you must be in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months immediately before you apply for this visa. Time spent dating or in an online relationship might not count as being in a de facto relationship.

Exemptions to the 12-Month Requirement

However, exemptions to this requirement include:

  • Registration of Relationship: If you have registered your relationship with an Australian authority. 
  • Compelling and compassionate circumstances allow you to be granted the temporary Partner visa (subclass 820).
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa: you are in a de facto relationship with a partner who is an applicant for a permanent humanitarian visa
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa: your partner holds or held a permanent humanitarian visa, your de facto relationship existed before the Department granted their visa, and your de facto partner informed the Department of the relationship before they granted the visa

Pre-existing Relationship: If your de facto relationship existed before your de facto partner’s visa was granted.


The 12-month requirement will not apply if you have registered your relationship with an Australian authority, such as a registry of births, deaths and marriages. 

Registering a relationship can be a simpler alternative for couples who want to fulfil visa requirements, particularly for onshore partner visa applications in Australia. When couples register their relationship, they are exempt from the 12-month de facto relationship requirement, easing the burden of gathering extensive documentation to meet the de facto relationship criterion. 

This option is also convenient for any foreign partners on a temporary visa in Australia who want to extend their stay with their partner without leaving the country for visa application purposes.

All states and territories, except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, have relationship registers.

Specific state and territory requirements


State Main Requirements Link
Victoria One of you must live in Victoria
New South Wales
One of you must live in NSW
One of you must live in Queensland
Australian Capital Territory
One of you must live in the ACT.
South Australia
One of you must live in South Australia.,-deaths-and-marriages/register-a-relationship
Both of you must live in Tasmania.


The compelling and compassionate circumstances” criterion refers to exceptional situations that may warrant special consideration in the context of immigration and visa applications. 

In the context of a partner visa, if the applicants are unable to obtain a relationship certificate, they may be able to apply for a de facto visa if:

  1. there are compelling/compassionate circumstances that exist in the applicant/sponsor’s visa application, and the compelling and
  2. compassionate circumstances are extenuating enough to warrant the visa grant.

This criterion sets a high threshold, demanding exceptional circumstances to be met. Examples of such circumstances include:

  • Dependent Children: If there are dependent children in the relationship, the couple may be eligible for a visa.
  • Inability to Cohabit: Couples unable to cohabit due to customs, traditions, or laws in the applicant’s country of residence can apply under compelling/compassionate circumstances.
  • Same-Sex Relationships: Applicants in same-sex de facto relationships may apply for a visa if their relationship is considered illegal or dangerous in their home country.

Providing Evidence for Your Application

Evidence plays a crucial role in supporting your de facto partner visa application. 

While living together / providing a relationship registration is a strong indicator of a genuine relationship, alternative evidence must also be provided, including:

  • Financial Commitments: Documentation showing joint ownership of assets, shared bank accounts, and financial support provided to each other.
  • Social Aspects: Evidence of joint social activities, travel itineraries, and statements from acquaintances who can attest to your relationship.
  • Communication Records: Records of your communication history, such as emails, letters, and call logs, demonstrating ongoing contact and emotional support.
  • Future Plans: Evidence of your shared plans, such as joint travel plans or commitments supporting each other’s careers or education.

Seeking Professional Advice

Navigating the de facto partner visa process can be complex, and seeking professional advice can be invaluable. Our Registered Migration Agents at Australian Immigration and Visa Services can help you understand visa requirements and address any specific concerns or challenges you may face.

Book a free 15-minute profile assessment or a comprehensive consultation.