An enquirer asked me this today. The answer is: In some ways yes, in some ways no.
There is about 8 times as much work in a partner visa. There is a lot more evidence required, more documents and more information. Normally it takes 1 – 2 months to prepare a thorough application for a partner visa or prospective marriage visa, and average of 9 months to process in the Australian Embassy in Manila. However if you’re ready to make your relationship permanent, then yes it’s the right way to go.
Although despite being more work and taking more time, the Migration Regulations which they use to make decisions on partner visas are far more objective. If the Regulations are met, it’s pretty obvious to anyone assessing it. They could (and probably do) put the Regulations into a Yes/No checklist and work their way down that list, and if everything is YES then they may grant the visa.
Tourist visas are quicker to process and require less information, but they’re only a temporary visa. She visits, then she goes back again. And at the end of the day you’re no closer to being together permanently. Perfectly fine if you’re not at commitment stage, or if you’re still sorting out divorces or annulments. But a road to nowhere if you’re actually ready to take the plunge.
The problem is that the Regulations for tourist visas are highly subjective. The Embassy staff are left with the onerous decision of deciding if the applicant has a “genuine intention” or not, as this is how the Regulations are written. The Case Officers are not bad people. They’re charged (by the Australian people!) with the task of working out whether somebody is planning on using the visit for the purpose which they stated, or whether they intend running off and working under the radar. That’s not an easy thing to assess, especially when there ARE plenty of people who try to pull a fast one, and no doubt they have dodgy applications to filter out on a weekly basis.
We at Down Under Visa do a fairly comprehensive and thorough tourist visa application (as we do with fiancée visas and spouse visas too!), because we’re aware of how hard it is for Case Officers to reach a conclusion based on minimal information. They don’t know the applicant or the sponsor from a bar of soap, and it’s up to the one preparing the application to paint a clear picture so that they have no doubt as to your intentions. We get great results, so we make no apologies for being thorough. We get to give clients good news every week, so we won’t be changing our approach.
So, which one? Partner Visa or Tourist Visa?
If you’re committed to each other and ready for a life together? Partner Visa is the choice you should be making. You just need to decide whether to marry in Australia or Philippines, and therefore whether to choose at actual Partner Visa (aka spouse visa) or a Prospective Marriage Visa (fiancée visa).
But if you’re not ready to take that step, then don’t rush. Let us help you with a Tourist Visa so you can spend more time deepening your relationship, and so she can meet your family and friends and see how you live.