I am already married and I am in the process of marrying another woman. Moreover, I am also in the process of getting Australian visa to study. I know that Australian laws do not recognize the taking of a second wife even for foreigners like me.

Can having a second wife affect my Australian visa application or (if I get the visa and travel then the marriage is finalized later on) my stay? I may not take both of the wives there with me.

(With all due respect, I ask you not to comment on taking a second wife. It is nothing illegal in my country and my culture.)

I want to remain honest whatever the case may be. So, how can I achieve that to get them both, study and second marriage, in a safe way?

I have found some related links on Australian government sites:

  1. "the relationships between the different partners may be recognised as de facto relationships." (no exclusion is required)

  2. "For the purpose of proceedings under this Act, a union in the nature of a marriage which is, or has at any time been, polygamous, being a union entered into in a place outside Australia, shall be deemed to be a marriage." (6 Polygamous marriages)

  3. A de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship. (4AA De facto relationships - 5(b))

What is the answer?

  • 3
    Yes DumbCoder, I know it... That's why I am asking the question...Moreover, I will not be getting married inside Australia
    – tod
    Nov 22 '17 at 15:57
  • 2
    and I will only be a visiting foreign student there.
    – tod
    Nov 22 '17 at 16:03
  • 5
    @DumbCoder The link you posted clearly implies that Australia tolerates multiple marriages as long as nobody tries to have more than one relationship recognized as an actual marriage.
    – phoog
    Nov 22 '17 at 17:11
  • 2
    @Willeke what international law forbids or disfavors multiple marriages?
    – phoog
    Nov 22 '17 at 17:12
  • 5
    I can't speak to Australia, but the United States generally recognizes marriages contracted under the laws where they were contracted, and certainly does not view bigamy as criminal if it was legal in the home country. Your most pressing problems will be that I suspect you can only get one spousal visa, and I am fairly certain you can only include one wife in health insurance registration and other social benefits. I suggest a specialist attorney for this issue. Nov 22 '17 at 19:25

As jpatokal's answer noted, Australian migration law does not recognise multiple relationships.

This does not mean your other wife cannot come to Australia. However, for the purposes of migration law:

  • she will not be recognised as your spouse or de facto partner;
  • she cannot be included in your visa application as a family member; and therefore
  • she must apply for a visa separately. That separate visa application will then be considered on its own merits (i.e. she must qualify in her own right without reference to you).

This conclusion comes about from the definitions of "de facto partner", "spouse" and "family" under sections 5CB, 5F and 5G of the Migration Act 1958, which is the law under which visas are granted. Extracts from these provisions are as follows (emphasis added).

5CB De facto partner


(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if they are not in a married relationship (for the purposes of section 5F) with each other but:

(a) they have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others; and


5F Spouse

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), persons are in a married relationship if:

(a) they are married to each other under a marriage that is valid for the purposes of this Act; and

(b) they have a mutual commitment to a shared life as a married couple to the exclusion of all others; and


5G Relationships and family members


(2) For the purposes of this Act, the members of a person’s family and relatives of a person are taken to include the following:

(a) a de facto partner of the person;


The three references in your question are irrelevant for the purposes of visa applications. The first one is from a parliamentary research article about welfare (not visas) and is not the law. The second and third are from the Family Law Act 1975, which regulates divorces and similar relationship breakdowns, not visas.


Australia does not recognize polygamy, and neither do its visas. The student visa conditions for bringing a partner are all about a partner (singular), not plural.

So your options are to apply with your first wife as your partner, or with your second wife as a partner. There isn't even an option to declare other spouses, nor does it make any sense to bring this up voluntarily.

If you choose the 2nd, it's wise to get married first, because it's easier to prove the relationship when it's officially registered; otherwise you'll need to provide proof of having lived together in a de facto relationship for 12 months prior.

  • Currently, I have started to fill up the application and I do not want to delay it further. However, the case of second marriage has yet some time to be finalized. So, this is more of becoming an "otherwise" case. But, how can I claim a de facto relationship, when, by definition, the de facto partner is not legally married?
    – tod
    Nov 24 '17 at 19:26
  • As you said conditions are about bringing a partner (singular), so as long as I am asking them for a visa for a partner, would they still object to consider the fact?
    – tod
    Nov 24 '17 at 19:41
  • Can a married person have a de facto partner too?
    – tod
    Nov 24 '17 at 19:45
  • 1
    A de facto partner is someone you live with and have a serious relationship "to the exclusion of all others". Since I presume you don't live together, and that your second wife-to-be still lives with her family (?), it will be difficult to impossible to demonstrate such a relationship. In addition, claiming that you have an exclusive relationship when you're in fact already married is technically fraud. Nov 24 '17 at 20:30
  • A de facto partner is someone you live with and have a serious relationship "to the exclusion of all others". How do you say this??? I have seen this, "the relationships between the different partners may be recognised as de facto relationships."
    – tod
    Oct 11 '18 at 8:06

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