The Australian spouse visa


It is both a wonderful and lucky thing when two people meet and develop a relationship that flowers into a situation where they become spouses. When they start to plan for a future life together they are often faced with important decisions such as where they will live.

When one person is an Australian and their spouse is a foreign national sometimes they will decide that they want to live in Australia. I guess you can’t blame them! – Australia is a great country with a sunny climate, a very strong economy and many opportunities. However, all foreign nationals require a visa to enter and remain in Australia. It is a common misconception that merely getting married or entering into a de facto relationship with an Australian guarantees that person a right to an Australian spouse visa. Unfortunately it does not.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) looks at many things such as the history of the relationship, the financial capability of the Applicant (the foreign national) and the Sponsor (the Australian), and the character and medical condition of the Applicant. Applying for an Australian spouse visa can be a very complicated and time consuming exercise, and a lot of supporting documentation is required. When children are involved the process is even more demanding.

A very high percentage of self prepared applications are either refused or experience significant delays due to a lack of understanding of Australian migration law and practice and also due to poor preparation.


My boyfriend is writing an Invitation for me to visit him in Australia – is this ok? If so what should the invitation say?

If you are a Thai, Filipina/Pinay or any other nationality and you have an Australian boyfriend, the time may come when you both decide that it is time for you to visit him in Australia. If this is the case you will need to apply for and obtain a visa to enter the country. Assuming that you fit the criteria, you can apply for a Tourist visa and your boyfriend can act as someone who effectively sponsors or supports your visit. Australian Tourist visas are multi-purpose and you can use them to enter Australia for the purposes of travel or sightseeing, to visit family, partners or friends, and even to study for a short period of time.

You maybe able to show that you can meet all the criteria and standards required to obtain a Tourist visa all by yourself. However, if this is not possible – if there is some aspect of your application where you are lacking – you can ask your Australian boyfriend to provide the relevant assistance.

For example, most Filipinas and Thai ladies would not be likely to be able to meet the financial requirements for even a Tourist visa. The cost of living in Australia is significantly higher than in most parts of Thailand and the Philippines and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) reflects this high cost of living by requiring evidence of funds in the many thousands of dollars. Of course, the amount required will depend on the type of visa being applied for and the expected time in Australia. If this applies to you and you cannot show substantial funds to support your visit you can ask your boyfriend to write an invitation which offers to support your visit financially.

In the invitation your boyfriend would certainly want to address either the financial and/or other aspects of your application that is/are lacking. He can even provide supporting documentation.

Even if you do not have an Australian boyfriend, but have a relative or good friend that resides in Australia, whether they are Australian or not, they may be able to provide you with some sort of offer of assistance should you need it. For example, if you are from the Philippines and your brother or sister moved to Australia a few years ago for work you could ask him or her to extend to you an invitation.

An invitation from someone who is either Australian or is living in Australia does in no way guarantee that you will get your Australian visa. Any invitation or offer of support is weighed against many other important factors. Some of these other considerations are character, health, work and visa history. We always strongly recommend that anyone thinking of applying for an Australian visa first at least obtain some preliminary advice about the visa options. The visa system can be a real mystery and a minefield without the proper assistance.

Thai citizens applying for a Partner visa to Australia – is it more difficult when compared with a citizens from other countries?

A large number of Thai citizens apply for an Australian Partner visa every year. A Partner visa is a temporary leading to permanent visa that is in the class of family visas. A Thai citizen can apply for a Partner visa on the basis of being either married to or in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) strictly defines what is classed as a de facto relationship.

I am often asked whether it is more difficult to apply for a Partner visa being a Thai citizen than, for example, an American citizen. It is not an easy question to answer because there is a lot involved in making an application for a Partner visa and some of it involves more general aspects such as country of origin/country of passport but it is also largely concerned with the specific circumstances of the “Applicant” themselves. Furthermore, the role of the “Sponsor” (the Australian citizen or permanent resident) is very important in the Australian Partner visa application process.

One of the concerns in relation to the Partner visa is English language skills of the Applicant as English is the main language spoken in Australia. Obviously this is different in Thailand where the main language is Thai when compared with a citizen of the United Kingdom where the main language spoken is also English. In this context the English language barrier can make things more difficult for a Thai citizen than a citizen from an English speaking country.

Many of the other important criteria relate to the Applicant themselves rather than what country they are from. For example, what is the character of the Applicant? What is their medical condition like? What are their finances like? What is their visa history like? Do they have a history of breaching conditions on their previous visas or did they abide by all the conditions?

The individual situation of the Sponsor is also important. If the Applicant does not have much money the Sponsor can provide financial support for the Applicant. If children are involved in the migration of the Applicant special checks need to be made of the Sponsor to make sure he or she does not have any specific criminal record with regard to the abuse children.

So long as the Applicant and Sponsor for an Australian Partner visa meet the criteria for the grant of a visa they will be granted the visa regardless of the country of the Applicant’s passport. Certainly the language and culture of Thailand is different to that in Australia but these differences in themselves should not necessarily be a stumbling block to obtaining an Australian Partner visa.

What ‘exactly’ is a Visitor Visa

There is no such thing as an Australian ‘Visitor’ visa exactly – when people talk about Visitor visas for Australia they are usually really talking about Tourist visas.  A Tourist visa allows a foreign citizen to visit Australia. The visit can be for purely tourism purposes, or to visit family, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends or just friends. They are valid usually valid for periods of 3, 6 or 12 months. You can study for up to 3 months on them, but you cannot work.

Virtually all foreign nationals are required to have a visa to enter Australia, even for the purposes of visiting. There are three main types of Australian Visitor visa: one which covers only a handful of what are considered to be “low risk” countries by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), one which covers most European countries, and the third category which encompasses the rest of the world. Thai and  Filipina citizens, for example, come under the third category of Australian Visitor visa. As part of this third type they are required to  submit a paper application and submit a considerable amount of supporting documentation.

Visitor visas once prepared and submitted do not usually take very long to process relative to most other visas. If you are planning on visiting Australia and you do not come from one of the first two categories of countries (mention above) you need to make sure you give yourself time to prepare and obtain your Visitor – Tourist visa before booking your ticket to Australia.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is concerned with the risk of a visa holder overstaying their visa, the risk that they might want to work while in Australia, and the financial position of the Applicant. Unless strict guidelines are followed and all enquiries are satisfied it is highly likely that an Australian Visitor – Tourist visa application will be rejected. A large proportion of self-prepared applications are refused either because of poor preparation or because the ‘Applicant’ has mistaken or misinterpreted their eligibility for the visa. It is always advisable to speak to a trained and experienced Migration Agent whom can guide you and, in the long run, save you previous time, effort and money.

What is a legal marriage for a Partner visa?

You may have a Thai, Filipina, etc, girlfriend, Fiancé, or wife and are consulting with your Migration Agent about the best visa option to go for. If you decide to get married or are already married it is very important to understand what is a “legal marriage” for purpose of making a valid Partner visa application by marriage.

In many countries, including Thailand, it is very common for couples to get married in a traditional ceremony. Many Thai-Thai and even Thai-foreigner couples get married in this way.

Unfortunately however, these marriages will not usually be recognised by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) as a legal and valid marriage for the purpose of the Migration Act.

A traditional marriage in a country outside of Australia may or may not be officially and legally recognised under the law of that country. To be recognised the marriage will normally have to have some sort of formal documentation attached to it and it will need to be registered as a marriage in the government department that deals with such unions in that country.

For the sake of a marriage being legal under the Migration Act, in order to make a valid Partner visa application, it is not necessary for the couple to be married in Australia. It is ok if they are married in another country as long as their marriage is recognised in the other country as legally binding. There are some exceptions, such as same sex, underage or polygamous marriages, which are not accepted in Australia.

It is also important to recognize that DIAC looks at not just weather the couples are legally married but also whether or not they are in what is termed a “married relationship”. DIAC states that persons are in a married relationship if:

-        they are married to each other under a marriage that is valid for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958;

-        they have a mutual commitment to a shared life as husband and wife to the exclusion of all others;

-        the relationship between them is genuine and continuing; and

-        they live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis.

Relocating to Australia with my Thai Partner

you are looking to relocate to Australia with your Thai Partner she will need a visa. There are special family type visas that are specifically designed to assist foreign nationals to move to Australia to be with their Partner. To be eligible one of the couple must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

There are options within the Australian family group of visas to suit different types of relationships. There are visas for Fiancés, visas for married couples and finally, visas for de facto couples. Same sex couples are classified within the de facto category.

The first thing to do is to work out whether you and your Thai Partner fit the criteria applicable to the visa you are contemplating. While the focus is on your Thai Partner, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will also look at you, her “Sponsor” to see if you fit the criteria as someone who can provide support to her for an initial period of time. Some of the important questions are: can you support her financially? Are you are person of good or adequate character? If your Partner has any dependent children she can include them in the application. If she does, DIAC will look at you as her Sponsor even more closely because of the issues of safety for minors.

The temporary, leading to permanent, family type Australian visas are very good they offer many benefits to the holder. The “Fiancé” or Partner visa, once granted, will allow your Thai Partner to work and have access to Medicare. Theses visa will also eventually lead to permanent residence.

It is very important to remember that there is a lot of preparation involved in the “Fiancé or Partner visa applications. It is a complex process and takes considerable time and effort to both prepare and process and application. Applications that are well prepared always take less time to prepare and process than those that are not. It is not just a time issue – a high proportion of self prepared applications are refused leaving the couple devastated and leaving their future in Australia in doubt.

To avoid disappointment we always recommend that you seek professional advice when considering applying for an Australian visa – of any kind. A skilled and experience Migration Agent can guide so that you make the right choice, and they provide you with strategy in the forward planning of your visa or visas. Our team can provide a range of services ranging from advice to full preparation assistance, including liaising with DIAC or the Australian Embassy in Thailand. We always offer a free initial consultation, so you really have nothing to lose by contacting us.

Making an Australian Tourist Visa Application from Thailand

If you are Thai and you would like to visit Australia you will need to apply for a Tourist visa. If you are an Australian and you have a Thai girlfriend that you want to invite to Australia to spend time with, you can look to assist her application by providing support. Support can be financial, accommodation, etc.

Many countries, Thailand included, are classified as high risk for Tourist visas. Applicants are required to fill in a paper application and include supporting documentation. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) assesses the Tourist visa application in a global way, looking at many aspects of the “Applicant” and at any potential risk factors. DIAC looks at whether someone is working, studying, can financially support themselves and whether they have a criminal record or a prior medical history. DIAC is very concerned about the genuineness of the application – the intentions of the applicant.

Tourist visas applicable to Thailand are available for periods of 3, 6 and 12 months. Single or multiple entry Tourist visas can be granted. Families cannot be included in 1 application – every person must apply for their own visa and make a separate application – unless the names of more than one person are on a passport.

Applications can be submitted in Bangkok and other selected locations, including Phuket and Chiang Mai. The processing time for an Australian Tourist visa can vary but a figure of around 4-5 business days is common. Applications are assessed on the documents at hand and if the documentation is not correct or lacking in some way the application can be refused.

If an Application is refused DAIC will provide you with reasons for the decision. The decision of the case officer is not reviewable. A fresh application can be made at anytime. However, DIAC does not recommend that you submit a new application unless and until your circumstances have changed and you can meet the legal criteria for the grant of a Tourist visa.

Unfortunately, applicants often do not submit the correct documentation or misread the questions and a high percentage of self-prepared applications are not successful. People are often left feeling frustrated – they have wasted time, effort and money. We recommend that you seek the advice of a skilled migration agent to assess your situation. We always provide a free assessment – what you do after that is up to you. Our team has the skill experience to take the stress and confusion out of applying for an Australian Tourist visa and give your Thai girlfriend, fiancé or wife the best chance of success.

Australian Partner Visa for a Filipina

If you are an Australian and are married to, or in a de facto relationship with, a woman from the Philippines (a ‘Filipina’) she may be eligible to apply for an Australian Partner visa. Before discussing the requirements I will discuss briefly what a Partner visa is and what it allows one to do.

A Partner visa, if granted will allow the holder to reside in Australia and enter and exit Australia as much as is desired. It is a temporary visa that becomes permanent after a period of time if everything remains the same – i.e.: if the relationship is still going on. That means that your Filipina wife or partner will become a permanent resident of Australia. The Partner visa also allows the holder to work and also gives them access to the Australian health care system: Medicare.

If your Filipina wife or partner has dependent children or other dependents, they can be included in the application for a Partner visa. As I will mention below, there are strict rules as to what defines a dependent.   And obviously, the rules provide that she would need to have the legal right to bring any dependent children out to Australia.

A Partner visa can be applied for in Australia or in the Philippines. The cost of the application and the processing time for the Partner visa application depends upon many factors including such factors as where the application is processed and the current case load of the Embassy or Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) office in question.


Because of the great features of the Partner visa, including the fact that it gives full work rights and leads to permanent residency, the applications are processed very carefully and there are a lot of enquiries made by DIAC. DIAC examines both the Filipina and her Australian husband or partner and looks at finances, character, medical fitness, family, visa history and many other things. DIAC is also very concerned with the nature of the relationship – whether it is a genuine and continuing relationship or whether it is merely a marriage of convenience. There are many rules which define what an accepted relationship might be and this can include the length of the relationship and the amount of contact time.


A considerable amount of supporting documentation is required. If applications are not prepared correctly they can be delayed for months or years or they can simply be refused. I strongly recommend that the first thing you, whether you discuss it with a migration agent or not, is to make sure you have a firm understanding of what is required and whether you Filipina wife or partner qualifies.

Why Should I Engage the Services of a Migration Agent?

As a Migration Agent people sometimes ask me “why should I use a migration agent?” These are usually people that have only just started thinking about obtaining a visa for their Thai or Filipina girlfriends. I say this because people that have already looked into applying for an Australian visa often find the whole area to be a bit of a minefield – quite a daunting process. Some of these people even try to have a go at applying for a visa alone without obtaining any advice beforehand. A very high percentage of these visa applications are refused. People soon then realise why they should engage the services of a skilled and experienced migration agent.

Almost all foreign nationals need a visa to enter Australia and these visas are not just given on arrival at the airport or port in Australia. They must be applied for prior to departure to Australia. For some countries that Australia classifies as low risk the process of those citizens applying for a Tourist visa is fairly simple. However, for the vast majority of countries and for the vast majority of visas, for citizens of any country, the Australian visas application process can be fairly complex and a considerable amount of supporting documentation is required.

Because the visa application process is complicated and because there is often a lot riding on an application (especially with permanent visas) it is advisable to consult a skilled migration agent. This is for the same reason that we consult a doctor or lawyer or accountant or any professional. There is nothing to stop us from having a go ourselves but if we want to be sure about something we approach a professional. A skilled migration can not only advise you about the best visa to suit your needs but also guide you through the process and ensure that you will have the best possible chance of success. In the long run this will save you time, money and effort.

At Australian Visa Advice we offer a free consultation so we can understand your situation and see what if any visa could suit your needs. You are then free to do as you choose. If you then choose to engage our services you can feel confident that you are in safe hands. Many of the visa applications we assist our clients with are substantive visas that lead to full work rights and permanent residence. You want to make sure you get it right the first time.

Taking Your Thai Wife to Australia

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident and you are married to a Thai lady you can certainly look to take her back to Australia for a holiday or even to live there with you. Depending on your circumstances you may want to look at an Australian Tourist visa or a Partner visa. Of course, there are a number of criteria that you both have to meet to be eligible for any Australian visa, and I will go into these briefly below.

The simplest visa to obtain within this class is the Tourist visa. As Australians we often just book our ticket, get on a plane, arrive in our destination country and get a stamp on entry.

Sometimes we do need to obtain visas before arriving in a country: for example if we want to travel to Russia. Well the same applies when Thai citizens want to travel to Australia. Thailand, like many other countries is classified as ‘high risk’ (this refers to the likelihood of the visa holder overstaying their visa) and so your Thai wife would need to fill in a paper application and both she and you would need to provide supporting documentation. Being married to an Australian, in itself, will not guarantee her entry into Australia even for the purposes of tourism or to visit your family. Many things are considered. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) would look at other potential issues, such as the character and medical condition of your Thai wife, and her ability to be able to financially support her visit. They would also look at the length, strength and genuineness of your relationship. The processing time for a simple 3 month Tourist visa is usually about 5 business days.

The more permanent option would be to apply for a Partner visa. A Partner visa will lead to permanent residency in Australia and will allow your wife to work in Australia if she chooses. Once this visais granted and becomes permanent she will never need another visa for Australia.  The Partner visa is considerably more complicated to apply for than a Tourist visa and the processing time can be fairly lengthy. However, if you both qualify, a competent and experienced Migration Agent should be able to guide you through the process and help you achieve your goal of taking your Thai wife to Australia.