The Australian Immigration Process

How to Bring your Filipina Wife to Australia

OK, so you know she’s the one? What do you do now? I get some common questions asked of me all the time:

(a) Can I get a tourist visa for her?

(b) Can I bring her back with me?

(c) Should I get married over there?

First question? In short, it’s VERY difficult to get a tourist visa for an average person from the Philippines, because they believe there is a high risk of her overstaying. Unless she’s rich, has a great job and owns significant property, they often view it that she has more reasons to overstay in Australia illegally than she does in returning. And the reality is that your letters promising to take care of her will not prevent her from doing a runner if she so chooses. If you don’t have some solid evidence to prove otherwise it’s generally a waste of time and money to even try the tourist visa route. Plus, the refusal will remain on her Departmental record and may cause difficulty with a legitimate fiancée/spouse visa later. (And no, she really DOESN’T need to come to Australia to “see if she likes it”. If she truly loves you, she will be happy wherever you are.) That’s the bad side of it! However if you are in a stable relationship and can prove this, then in the hands of visa specialists like Down Under Visa, the outcome is normally much better than this. In fact we have an excellent strike rate. If you DO have good reasons, ie. if you are not divorce yet or if she is still legally married, then sure why not? And if you’re not quite at the commitment stage and feel you need some more time together, then again we can most likely help you. Just be aware that if you are more ready than you think you are, and you have to put her back on a plane at the end of 3 wonderful months together, you’re going to kick yourselves for not applying for a partner visa instead!

The answer to the second question is NO, you cannot. Despite stories you may hear (and you will find that everyone is an expert!) about some no-nonsense chap who marched into the Embassy, demanded a visa for his wife, and got it……it just doesn’t work like that. 30 years ago? I have no idea. But these days (if it EVER worked like that) it certainly does not.

There are laws in place which govern who comes to Australia and who doesn’t. Never assume that marriage to you turns a girl into an instant Aussie. Within the realms of the Marriage Act (ie. you can’t marry your sister, or a child, etc), you may marry anyone. But you don’t have an automatic right to bring her home. No one enters Australia without a visa, and visas are only issued when somebody meets the criteria set out by the Migration Act of 1958 and the Migration Regulations of 1994. Meet the criteria, and they must give her a visa. Do NOT meet the criteria, and they have no choice other than to refuse the visa. It’s the law. And the Migration Officers of the Australian Embassy in Manila are charged with administering that law. So you get nowhere by making loud “I’m a taxpayer, so I pay your salary” demands at them!

On the second question? The answer is a definite maybe! It depends! It depends on whether you’ve been there before. It depends on how experienced a traveller you are, how mentally-flexible you are, how much of a sense of humour you have, and how much time you have on your hands! Let me explain:

The Philippines is a Third World country. It’s not Hawaii or Norfolk Island. On my first trip many years ago, I was struck dumb with culture shock! I’d travelled to India years before, and I SHOULD have been more prepared, but I really wasn’t. The heat struck me. The taxi drivers pounced. The traffic, the crowds, the poverty and the general chaos, it knocked me for a six. The sense of humour eventually cut in, but as for my ability to meet a girl, meet her family, and organise a wedding? Not a chance!

And apart from all that, you get a 30 day visa automatically on arriving in the Philippines. If you want to stay longer, you have to apply for an extension of your visa. And you have to give 10 days notice from when you apply for a marriage license to the day you get married. And there are other requirements which require trips to the Australian Embassy too. You really should have a month ahead of you if you want to have a reasonably stress-free marriage. And you really should have met the girl first…..preferably on a previous trip.

So basically if a client asks me which way he should go, I will always point out that it’s easier to apply for a fiance visa and to marry her here. And my emphasis increases if he’s never been to the Philippines before! Go there. Meet her. Meet her family. See how she lives. Enjoy yourself!

However, remember that it’s a joint decision. If you’re a gentleman, you should discuss this all with your bride-to-be. As Perry Gamsby points out in his books (which you all should be considering buying, as they are great value and full of knowledge) she may have her heart set on a wedding in her local Church, walking down the aisle on the arm of her dad. So you may decide to have a second trip, and/or to stay a bit longer. Or a compromise may mean a wedding in Australia, followed by another one in the Philippines with her family!

From an immigration point-of-view? It really doesn’t matter very much. It takes around the same length of time. And we can help you with either method. There are:

(a) Spouse visas (for those who marry in the Philippines, or anywhere overseas),

(b) Fiance visas (for those who wish to bring their lady to Australia and marry her in Australia)*, and

(c) there are even Defacto visas (for those who have been living together in a permanent relationship……which includes same-sex relationships)

(d) Were you hoping to make things simple and apply for a tourist (visitor) visa for your girlfriend or fiancee to visit Australia so she can marry you and stay? Do you believe this will be easy and simple? Please think carefully before you do this, and please read the article HERE

(e) Or were you planning on visiting the Australian Embassy in Manila To discuss and/or apply for a visa? Think again! The days of Embassy staff helping with applications and advice are long gone. You need an appointment to get in, and you won’t get an appointment for anything to do with visas. Don’t waste your time!

*Note well! For a FIANCEE VISA, both parties must be free to marry. If you need to get a divorce, then get it over and done with now! You can’t apply based on a pending divorce. For her, it gets a bit more complicated, however it can be done. You just need to be patient.

We will not be discussing the preparation and processing of visas here, as to do so would be irresponsible. It’s too complicated to generalise about, and broad “how long is a piece of string?” advice will certainly get you into trouble.

And do yourselves a favour and avoid the online “do it yourself” migration forums. I check them out occasionally, and occasionally contribute to a few of them, and sometimes find myself correcting some appallingly incorrect advice by those armed with a little knowledge. There are sound reasons why only registered professionals may give migration advice by LAW in Australia, in the same way as your friends can’t prescribe medicine for you either. The Australian immigration process is best undertaken with professional help.

Use a Migration Agent, or do it yourself?

A fair question, and one you need to decide for yourself. As a Migration Agent, obviously I think you should use a Migration Agent to do the processing for you. And truthfully I will tell you that with practically every one of our clients we are there to stop them from doing at least ONE silly thing that would have either resulted in an instant refusal, or at the very least caused them some headaches. You take the stress and the risk out of the process by using a professional, and given the importance of the issue (ie. does your wife come and join you, or does she get stuck in the Philippines for several more years or maybe forever?), the extra cost is very small.

But the decision is entirely up to you. You do not HAVE to use an agent, and are free to prepare your application yourself. If you do, I would only warn you that Manila is a notoriously tough port to deal with, and they have a very high rate of refusals.

And for goodness sakes, avoid NON-registered agents. In Australia, by LAW, Migration Agents need to be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority, and our bound by a strict Code of Conduct. In the Philippines there’s an “agent” (aka opportunist) on every corner, bound by no Codes whatsoever. And every travel agent will happily take your money and have a go at it themselves.

Online migration “advice” chat-style forums?

I visit internet forums sometimes, and I’m frequently appalled by the wacky advice given out by people with 10% knowledge and 90% confidence. I don’t even bother trying to correct this advice anymore, because the 10%-experts will only argue with me. And those asking for the advice are usually trying to apply for the visas by themselves…….trying to save a bit of money, and dicing with their future happiness! We haven’t had a single visa refusal yet….whilst I watch in horror how many nightmares people make for themselves, and extra years they add to their waiting time!

It is actually illegal for non-RMA’s (Registered Migration Agents) to give migration advice, and this includes these online forums. In the same way it’s illegal for amateurs to give legal advice or medical advice. Imagine if I was casually posting what antibiotics or blood-pressure medication an unknown person should take? Tragic consequences could ensue! This is no different. Just because somebody was lucky enough to get a visa through by themselves does NOT qualify them to give advice to nameless others on a website. If you ever visit one of these, look at how many failures and sad stories you see?

Think carefully before you gamble with future happiness and security. Don’t entrust your future to a stranger online who calls themselves “luvsfilipinaz”.

If you would like to know more about us (Down Under Visa) and our services, please check our site here.

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Jeff is registered migration agent who has been helping couples with visas to Australia ... Jeff is the owner / operator of Down Under Visa. If you would like to SUBSCRIBE, please click HERE.

56 comments on “The Australian Immigration Process
  1. nev mulley says:

    hi jeff . my mane is nev mulley live in BOWEN ,have girlfriend in CEBU. was going to bring her out on a tourist visa untill i read some of your message . but now we will apply for a fiance visa . can you advise me on best way please . if you can do it from hear or best from over there
    i have just desided to go over there again in august thank you NEV MULLEY

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Hello Nev. Sorry for the very late reply. I don’t check the comments very often. If you can use the visa assessment form on the site, I’ll get back to you ASAP. Thanks.

  2. Paul Hartley says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Very informative. I tried the tourist visa approach and my fiance was turned down flat (for the reasons you pointed out in your site). She is currently living in Dubai as a maid and is due to leave in January/February 2015. I returned home from Dubai in August 2014. We have been together for over two years and engaged for just over 12 months. Grateful if you could advise what my best option is (including fees for using your company) for getting married and getting her and her two daughters over here. (Daughters currently reside in the Philippines with relatives).

    Kind regards (urgent response if possible as time is running out). Many thanks, Paul

  3. Gavin hay says:

    Dear Jeff I want to bring out my fiancé to Australia with her two daughters for xmsass for a month her husband is dead I want to bring her out on a fiancé visa can you help or give me some advice please

  4. grant says:

    hi jeff i have just been married in the philippines.And iwant to bring my wife to australia for a holiday.she does not want to live here as we have houses and land in the philippines.can you help me …..

  5. jamie burgess says:

    To whom it may concern,
    Just wondering if you can guide me in the rite direction.i have been talking with Filipino girl and I am in the process of going there to meet and further our relationship.if I was to marry her in the philipines would it be the best and cheaper way to process this?

  6. Christopher says:

    I’ve met a filipina online who seems to be genuinely interested in pursuing a relationship with me. She has every intention of meeting me however she does not like the idea of me going there just to….well get to know her for a short period of time and then leave without taking her with me. Long story short she’s not having any of it and wants to be with me from the very beginning of when we meet and to meet her family and of course to leave with me back to Australia.

    The problem is….I am not sure if we can make arrangements to make it happen like that. I am happy to do whatever it takes but is there a way that we can prepare for this? She won’t accept a short hello goodbye visit for the sake of a visa and to be quite honest. I don’t blame her because she’s giving her heart to a man who can’t take her back with him it’s not right.

    So what can we do? We are happy to prepare the time required but we want to do this right so she isn’t sent packing back to phil because of a technicality. Please Help?!

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Not possible, sorry. There is no way of meeting her and taking her straight back. Please look at the site and read up on partner visas. You will see that the visa application itself will take a few months to prepare, and an average of 9 months to be processed. That’s reality, and you need to explain this to her.

  7. Alfred says:

    Hi Jeff.
    I have met a beautiful Philippino lady. I met her on line last October. I visited her in the Philippines over Christmas last year.
    She is still married so we have to secure an annulment before we can even start arranging our marriage.
    Once the annulment is finalised can I bring her and her two daughters (3 and 10) out here on a Fiance Visa?

  8. Wayne says:

    i met a filipina online and invited her to join me and my daughter on a holiday in bali

    my daughter likes her and i thought she was great

    i had women at a clothing market stall ask me if she was my wife or girlfriend and tease me that i was a very lucky man. i had a tour guide whisper to me that my girlfriend was very sweet

    she gives off such good vibes and cried when she got on the plane back to phil and her daughter hugged me and touched her hand to my forehead which i think is some kind of blessing

    im 100% convinced this girl is the real deal.

    im flying to phil later in the year to meet her and her family

    if all goes well i plan to propose.

    can you help me with the next step of applying for a fiance visa so she can come see how i live before walking down the aisle with me?

  9. jay says:

    hi jeff i was wondering what is the best thing to. to marry my girlfriend overseas before bring her in australia or bring her in australia as a fiance visa thank you

  10. Bradley Neilson says:

    I am disappointed that I completed a visa assessment form almost 6 weeks ago and have not heard anything back.

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Sorry Bradley, but I’ve checked and we didn’t receive an assessment from you at all. If you can try again, I’ll get straight back to you.

  11. Ema Ojia says:

    My aussie bf is coming over to the Philippines to come spend time with me and meet my family. He was divorced. My marriage with my ex was null and void bec he was previously married. I still have to file for my Declaration of Nullity. Can I apply for fiancee visa just to spend time with him even if my annulment is not yet finished? Can I take my 6 year old and 19 year old kids with me? Let me know the time frame as we are really serious in hiring someone to take care of everything for us.

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Ema, you can visit in the meantime. But you need to both be legally free to marry before you can apply for a partner visa or a fiancee visa.

      • Rose says:

        Hi jeff .. i am a filipina from cebu.. i came here in australia…3 yrs ago…through a tourist visa…for a reason to further the relationship with my craig who is now my husband…he visited me on cebu for 3 weeks and everything went well…he then decided 2days before he went back home to invite me to get to know him better and further the relationship…he applied for me in Cebu…dec8 2013 and i got my approval on dec17…for a 3month visa with no condition of NO FURTHER STAY…but i had to give all necessary proof of ties that i would still go back after 3 months…good thing i had a very good paying job and money in the bank before i met craig…but my annulmnt is pending…even until now its pending…you know how philippine courts are…well to soon as i got my visa.. craig then let me fly here in australia on Dec25 2013…and from that moment until now…i havent been back in the philipines yet…lol…but dont worry i did not violate my visa conditions…before my 3month visa expired…craig applied for another 3month extension…we did it online through the website but i had to be constantly patient in reading and understanding everything before we submit applications…and thank god…i got my extension and the immigration did not just give me 3months but made it up to a year…so before dec 25 2014 ended…around sept 2014…a barrister who happens to be craigs friend adviced us that i should apply for a de facto visa…so it was another excruciating long hours of reading through the website again…and ive read all the necessary things to do before we submitted it…especially that a big cost was involved…around 4900plus dollars…and thank god again…after 2 weeks i got my bridging visa A…indefinite stay until the de facto visa is approved but i cannot go out of australia…and in july of 2015…i got my temporary visa which is the first stage of my application…partners is quite confusing if i think about it now…and that is why i totally agree with you that there are a lot of forums that gives wrong advice…and craig has been adviced by some as well…but i stick to the immigration site because i know we will never be wrong or waste our time…so far jeff every application weve had are all successful but it takes a lot of patience and keen to every detail that the immigration requires…at the moment i am on stage two now and my assessment is still on progress…i have an immiaccount where i can see all the details and we communicate through email as well…last dec 25 2016 marks the third year of my stay here in australia…and by the way i filed a divorce here in australia so i cn get married to my husband…and i also got that advice from the immigration…we are now blessed with 2 wonderful girl just turned 2 and my little boy is 6months old…and i have a very loving husband who works so hard day and night…and i have to say that in my first hand of observation…most australian guys are very hard working which is why i am so inlove with my Craig…just wanna share my experience maybe it could help others as well…

        Good luck to you and ur family…

        • Jhoizy says:

          Wow Mam, Happy to hear your story. Want to meet and talk to you. I would like to ask you something. God bless.

          Hope you can able to read my message.

        • Jeff Harvie says:

          Always nice to hear a positive story! Well done!

  12. bal says:

    hi,,, jeff harvie , I have a relationship with filipina for two years and we have child for one year old now. but i married before, and i just got my divorce paper certificate last april 2016. do i have to marry her in philippines or australia.and also do i have to let the immigration that i get marry overseas.

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Were you married with a Filipina before? If not, you can marry here in Philippines being divorced. No problems. And no, you don’t need to inform anyone that you’re marrying overseas.

  13. George Edward Carr says:

    Hi Jeff, I’ve been online with a Filipino woman for 3 years. I plan a visit sometime in 2017 and then apply through the fiance’ visa to bring her to Aussie.
    The scary thing is the thousands in fee outlays to do this. It’s totally outrageous and cruel being so tough on a loving couple to have a life together in Aussie.
    I have a comfortable aged pension and heard that I must be able to provide weekly $250 to support her or she have the same? amount?

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Yes, the fees are outrageous, but what are you going to do? The Government has you backed into a corner. Don’t listen to the advice of amateurs. Strongly suggest you go to and complete the visa assessment form and we can see if we can help you.

  14. Ladyley says:

    What is the supporting documents need to show because I’m going to get subclass 600 visa (tourists stream)

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Information like that is something that Down Under Visa provide to clients, Ladyley. If you are interested in professional help with a visa application, suggest you complete the visa assessment form.

  15. Leo says:

    Hi Jeff,
    My girlfriend and I really want to get married because its to special to us and it will enhance the love that we have for each other. Were the same age, we knew each other when she was living here in Australia for almost 18months 2 years ago as we were both doing voluntary work for the same organisation and then when I went for a holiday to Philippines in August this year we met up again and it rekindled the feelings that we both have for each other and its really genuine. Neither of us have been married before and we don’t have any kids. All we want is to be together and I know she would prefer to start our family here in Australia if it were to come down to it… I will be going over to Phils in few days and we will discuss marriage and all… If we are to get married in the Philippines, how will I be able to bring her here and legalize our marriage here in Australia? can you please advise?

  16. Irene says:

    Hi im filipina was married to an autralian citizen in malaysia and have 9yrs old daughter. Sadly we end up our marriage last 2010 filed a divorce in malaysia. We are living in malaysia for how many years since we still marriage after divorce my ex took my daughter to australia without my permission. What should i do ? Can i get a visa to australia to see my daughter ?or possible for me to live and work there for easy access to see my daughter. as i am wanting to visit australia
    Your advice is highly much appreciated


  17. Anthony o'keefe says:

    Hi jeff is it true you need to have a stable job and you have to have your own house to bring a lady back here to australia to live

  18. Anthony o'keefe says:

    And how much is the fiance visa

  19. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Jeff I’m married Aussie citizen he only a disability pension.can I apply spouse visa and can I bring my two doughter

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Normally yes, Mary Ann. Suggest he complete the free visa assessment form on the site and we can see if we can help you.

  20. Brenton Webb says:

    I have recently met a Philippino woman through a friend and we are at the stage of online chatting and getting to know each other. I am planning a trip to the Philippines in Dec to meet and greet and have a holiday, nothing serious…yet. While talking she mentioned that she is 33 and is still married to a Filipina guy that cheated on her 13 yrs ago at age 20. He has American citizenship and lives in the USA with his Filipina lady and has never annulled the marriage. Is there anything she can do to get it done or is she going to be in marriage limbo for ever as like most I would like to have her with me in Australia at some point in the future.

  21. Andrew O'Dea says:

    I want to marry my lady from there can i bring her here please

  22. Yhana says:

    I’m married to Australian citizen at the age of 18 but we’ve been together for almost 2 years already. I’m planning to apply for a tourist visa while waiting for the partner visa approval. Is there a chance my visa get approve even if I don’t have bank account and work here in the Philippines?

  23. Darren Hayden says:

    Hi, how can you apply for an onshore partner visa if she is still in the Philippines? Isn’t the quickest way to get her to Australia by first a tourist visa? Then while she’s here apply then for partner visa? I would imagine a tourist visa would be granted quicker than waiting for a partner visa to be granted first up. Not sure which visa type to select in your free assessment , thanks

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      It is definitely possible to apply for an onshore partner visa when a lady is onshore with a tourist visa (as long as that tourist visa has no restrictions on further applications). And yes, tourist visas are quicker to process.

  24. Thanasi Tsamoudakis says:

    if I get visa and ticket for a fillipino girl to come to Australia am I risking her doing a runner on me

  25. Peter says:

    Why is it so important for Philippines applying for visa 600 to prove economical ties to their country

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Because they want to see that they intend to return at the end of a visitor visa stay. If they have nothing compelling them to return, thus increases their chances of trying to overstay unlawfully.

  26. rani says:

    How The Australian Immigration Process?

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