Did you know that gay or lesbian partners of Australian permanent residents or citizens can apply for permanent residence of Australia?

The visa to apply for is called an interdependency visa. The visa is similar to the spouse visa (de-facto grounds) applicable to heterosexual couples.

If successful an applicant will initially get a temporary two year visawith full work and travel rights. A person can also obtain a Medicare card. Around two years after lodgement of the application, the Department of Immigration will assess for the grant of a permanent visa.

Required relationship evidence over 12 months

The basic criteria for the interdependency visa is that a couple usually have to be in a relationship for at least 12 months before an application can be made.

  • The couple would need evidence they lived together during the 12 months. Alternatively, they would need a lot of evidence that any period they were not living together was not due to a break in their relationship.
  • Separate periods of co-habitation can be added together. You don’t have to continuously live together for 12 months.
  • If it is illegal to live together in the applicant’s country as a gay or lesbian, the 12 month rule doesn’t apply. There are other very limited exceptions.

There are other situations in which the Australian immigration system does not overtly discriminate against gay and lesbian people.

For example, people applying for a temporary long stay business visa (the 457 visa), or a points tested skilled visa, can include their gay or lesbian partner in the main application if they satisfy the 12 month rule.

Progress against legal discrimination

Some discriminatory visas remain.

  • For instance an applicant for an employer nomination visa, an increasingly popular visa, cannot include their gay or lesbian partner in their application.
  • Neither can the principal applicant of a permanent business visa. In these cases the applicant would need to obtain permanent residency first, and then sponsor their partner for an interdependency visa. This can be done once the partner obtains residency.
  • A student visa applicant also cannot include their gay or lesbian partner. In these circumstances, the partner would need to obtain a visa themselves if they wished to stay together.

The Department of Immigration has slowly moved to rectify the problem and grant equal rights to gay or lesbian people. It is hoped this momentum will continue. It is not difficult to make the necessary change in immigration legislation. It is more a question of will, and and decisions to make the change.

At Paul Hense Migration Lawyers, we have a long history of success with interdependency visas. You are only one email or telephone call away from obtaining our advice and services.


Paul Hense BA, LLB, BSW (University of Sydney), Principal, Paul Hense Migration Lawyers

Tel +61 402 448 449  |  Email: paul.hense@henselaw.com.au

If you wish to proceed to personalised assistance from Mr Hense of any inquiry, it will be done on a strict fee for service basis.

Mr Hense has been a migration lawyer since 1994. He has run a number of landmark cases, including before the High Court of Australia. He frequently represents clients before the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal. He has lectured for the University of NSW on refugee law and for the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre.  From 1990 and until recently he was a volunteer with the Immigration Advice and Rights Service. Previously he was a Senior Research Officer for the Australian Taxation Office.

Noric Dilanchian