If you want to apply for a partner visa and you are not married, you can apply as a de facto couple. Australian immigration law recognizes couples who live together for a certain amount of time as equivalent to a married couple.
How long does it take before the immigration department recognize your de facto relationship to have the same weight as a marriage?
At least 12 months. The law considers that if a couple have a shared household for at least 12 months that they are in a committed and genuine relationship.
If you have been together as a couple for 5 years but not living together sharing the household duties and expenses, then you don’t meet the requirements as a de facto couple. If you are not living together, it is assumed that you don’t have the same level of commitment or shared responsibility and social life as a married couple.
Over time, the courts and lawmakers have determined that a domestic arrangement of at least 12 months is an adequate time frame to build a life together and show that the relationship is genuine and continuing. The living together in the same house is the key to proving that you are in a continuing relationship.
A couple who don’t live together might be deemed genuine as they love each other and present themselves to the world as a couple, however if they haven’t taken the next step of moving in and setting up home, it isn’t considered a continuing relationship.