Are online web marriages acceptable for an Australian Partner visa?

Marriage is a milestone in everyone’s life, and the brides and grooms often want to physically present in their wedding ceremonies together with their beloved ones. However, due to the Covid19 travel restriction in the last 18 months until now, and the booming of online dating websites and apps, many couples aren’t able to have their marriage in a conventional way. Many Clients have come to us and ask:

  • Can I apply for an Australian Partner visa if I had an online marriage?
  • I haven’t met my partner in person. Can I apply for the Prospective Marriage visa to come to Australia and have our wedding?

In this article, we will explain whether “online relationship” is qualified for Australia Partner visa.

Related: Is our marriage valid for visa purposes?

Online Marriages and Proxy Marriages

Both online marriages and proxy marriages mean that the brides and the grooms do not need to physically present at the wedding ceremony. However, while online marriage simply implies the method by which the ceremony is held, proxy marriage refers to a legal type of marriage where an authorised person signs the marriage documents on behalf of the bridge or the groom. Therefore, it is important to understand that if you have an online marriage, but no-one signs in the marriage documents for you, your marriage might not be considered as a valid marriage.

Requirements for a Proxy Marriage to be valid in Australia for Partner visa purpose

Australian law requires that consent be given by both parties in person. In some countries, however, marriage by proxy is permitted.

In such instances officers should satisfy themselves that:

  • the law of the country where the marriage was solemnized (that is, where the marriage celebrant authorised the marriage) permits consent to be given by proxy, and
  • the marriage was solemnized in accordance with that law, and
  • both parties gave real consent to the marriage.

So, when it comes to the situation where the parties had a proxy marriage, the Department of Home Affairs will check whether the law of the country where the proxy marriage occurred recognizes that marriage. For example, India does not accept proxy marriage so it is not valid in Australia and therefore cannot be used to satisfy the requirement of the partner visa.

It is also important to note that simply getting married is not qualified for the partner visa. In order to satisfy the requirement for spousal relationship, you must provide that

  • You and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life as husband and wife to the exclusion of all others, and
  • The relationship is genuine and continuing, and
  • The couple live together, or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis.

The above requirements can be proved through the 4 pillars of your relationship:

In summary, a 309 visa is possible if a legally valid proxy marriage was to occur but this will be highly scrutinised by the department in terms of genuine relationship.

More information about partner visa can be found here.

Online/ Long distance relationship and Prospective Marriage Visa (subclass 300)

Online dating and long-distance relationship have become common in the technology era. In many situations, the Australian partner wants to sponsor their online partner to come to Australia under Prospective Marriage visa to get married in Australia. The question is “Is it possible to do so if the parties have not met in person?”

A simple answer to this is No. A subclass 300, Prospective Marriage visa requires couple to have met in person since each of them turned 18. The onus is on the couple to provide satisfactory evidence of having met in person since turning 18. This can be a travel ticket, accommodation bookings, photos, or any other evidence that you have met your partner in real life.

Written correspondence or contact by phone even video calls, fax or the internet does not constitute having ‘met in person’. The parties must have come into each other’s company or physical presence (met in person) rather than by any other means.

Proxy marriages and UTAH web marriage ceremonies (Source: MIA)

Given the extended duration for COVID travel restrictions into and out of Australia many have asked if proxy marriages are accepted by the Department of Home Affairs for partner visa applications.

Department advice is that if a proxy marriage is legally accepted in an overseas country it will most likely be accepted under the Australian Marriage Act and if it does not breach any of the sections of that Act eg underage marriage. Couples can be married by web conferencing and do not need to be resident in UTAH or the USA for the marriage ceremony to occur.

Again, be aware that the production of a marriage certificate on its own is not sufficient evidence for grant of a partner visa, the applicants must still provide evidence to support the ‘four pillars’ of a genuine relationship.

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