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New Zealand Partnership Visas: An Overview of Common Issues

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Perhaps one of the most frustrating of all visa categories for migrants to New Zealand is that associated with partnership. For many people who have been in a relationship for many years, the necessity to produce information that traverses this timeline will often seem unnecessary and cause extreme frustration.

Nevertheless, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will require an applicant for a partnership-based visa to produce a range of evidence that satisfies certain criteria.

The following seeks to address the main issues we are regularly approached by clients to explain, or address with INZ on their behalf.

The Supporting Partner's Eligibility

Firstly, it’s necessary to understand whether the partner is eligible to support an application under the partnership category.

  • The supporting partner will need to hold an eligible type of visa, or be a NZ citizen, or resident.

  • Additionally, the supporting partner must have a good character – a character waiver request will be required for those partners with convictions for family violence, or of a sexual nature.

  • Moreover, the supporting partner must also not have acted as a partner in more than one previous successful residence visa application and cannot have acted as a partner in a successful application for a residence class visa in the five years immediately preceding the date the proposed application will be made.

If the supporting partner does not meet these criteria, it may still be possible to sponsor the applicant for a visa, but the outcome will depend on individual circumstances. In such cases, we strongly recommend consulting with a professional immigration adviser who has experience in dealing with these issues.

The Relationship Criteria

Of course, it is important to understand whether an applicant’s relationship will meet eligibility requirements. It makes no difference whether a person has been married to their supporting partner for many years, has been in a relationship for several months (in the case of temporary applications), or is in a same-sex relationship (which is equally accepted in NZ).

The primary focus for INZ when assessing a partnership visa application is whether the applicant can provide evidence that shows they are:

living together with their eligible partner in a genuine and stable relationship.

The Relationship Evidence

Although INZ reserves the right to interview an applicant, most applications will be decided on the documentation produced in support of the application.

INZ will look at all the evidence provided and assess (in a Case Officer's opinion) whether the relationship is ‘genuine’ - because it has been entered into with the intention of being maintained on a long-term and exclusive basis; and ‘stable’ – because it is likely to endure.

Documentation that shows: the duration of the couple’s relationship; common residence, degree of financial interdependence; common ownership of property; degree of commitment to a shared life; and public recognition of the relationship are all important. However, none of the documentation produced is determinative in isolation – the assessment is global in nature, and will look at all of the evidence, to form a view of whether the relationship is ‘genuine and stable’.

The credibility of the evidence produced is vital for a successful application. A range of documentation from various sources helps here. It is essential to ensure that INZ has no doubt about the authenticity of the documentation and the narrative being presented.

Common Issues

In its assessment of whether the living together requirement is met, INZ will look at whether a couple share the same home as partners. Spending time in each other’s home whilst each maintaining their own home will not meet the standard; neither will the sharing of accommodation while on holiday.

The significance of the living together requirement varies depending on the type of partnership-based visa NZ being applied for. For partnership-based Residence visas, the couple must have lived together for at least 12 months or more. However, for Temporary Work or Visitor visas based on partnership, there is no specific timeline, but the couple still needs to establish a genuine and stable relationship.

Although the requirement for a couple to be living together is important, there may well be valid reasons why a genuine and stable couple are currently living in different geographical locations or have been at different times throughout their relationship.

In situations where it is not possible to provide evidence of living together or meet the standard requirements, there may be alternative pathways. INZ may issue a General Visitor Visa to allow the applicant to enter New Zealand, live with their partner, and subsequently apply for a partnership-based visa onshore.

If you believe this could be an option for you, we suggest speaking with us about the chances of this being successful in the first instance, as this won’t be a realistic option in every case.

Character and Health Requirements

Applicants for partnership-based visas must meet strict health and character requirements. Medical tests will be required, along with police clearance certificates from the applicant's country of citizenship/s, and any country they have lived in for 12 months in the last 10 years (for residence visas); or 5 years since the age of 17 (for temporary visas).

Need Help?

Partnership visas are often complex and challenging, so seeking guidance from professionals experienced in dealing with these specific issues is strongly recommended. At MILNZ, we provide expert advice so you understand your eligibility, and what is required, which will ultimately increase the chances of a successful application.



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