This is a question often asked by our clients who want to marry their Thai partner in Australia. Some of them may have previously had a traditional Thai Buddhist wedding ceremony in Thailand and now wish to legally marry. Although a traditional Thai Buddhist wedding ceremony may add to the evidence of the genuineness of a spouse relationship, it is not a legally recognised marriage in Australia for partner visa purposes. That being said, a marriage in Thailand is recognised in Australia if it has been registered at a local district office, called an Amphur. However, is it possible to get married in Australia on a tourist visa? The answer to this is yes, and many of our clients do so.
I married my Thai wife in Australia, can she now apply for a partner visa in Australia?
The answer to this question needs a thorough explanation. Prior to submitting a partner visa application, or any visa application for that matter, you must ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for the visa that you are applying for. The Migration Act and Regulations provide for certain criteria that must be satisfied at both times of application and decision. If you do not meet the criteria then your visa application must be refused.
Many people mistakenly believe that being married to another person means that their spouse now meets the criteria for the grant of a partner visa. This is definitely not the case. Apart from being married, it is also a requirement that the applicant and sponsor be in a genuine and continuing spousal relationship to the exclusion of all others. When assessing whether a spousal relationship is genuine, the Department will take into consideration all of the circumstances of the relationship, including the following factors which can be found in the Migration Regulations.
- financial aspects of the relationship
- nature of the household
- social aspects of the relationship
- nature of the persons’ commitment to each other
Assuming that you are now legally married to your Thai wife and you are satisfied that she meets the criteria for a partner visa, the next question will be, can she now apply for a partner visa in Australia on a tourist visa? The answer to this will depend upon what conditions are attached to her tourist visa. Her tourist visa grant notice will list what conditions her visa is subject to. If her visa has Condition 8503 attached to it, this will prevent her from applying for a partner visa whilst she is in Australia. She will need to depart to Australia and apply back to Thailand.
What happens after I apply for a partner visa in Australia?
If you have made a partner visa application in Australia, you will be granted a Bridging Visa A which will only become active after your current visa ends, in this case, your tourist visa. Once active, the Bridging Visa A will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia until a decision is made on your partner visa application. If you need to depart Australia during this period you must apply for and be granted a Bridging Visa B which will allow you to return to Australia during the processing of your partner visa application. If you have applied for a partner visa in Australia, it can only be granted whilst you are also in Australia at the time of visa grant.