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.