When considering migrating to New Zealand or if you are a New Zealand citizen or resident who wishes to bring your partner to the country, understanding the intricacies of the New Zealand Partnership Visa is essential. This visa type provides the means for couples to live together in New Zealand, irrespective of whether they are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship. In this article, we will delve deep into what a New Zealand Partnership Visa entails and the key aspects to consider when applying.
The Essence of the Partnership Visa
The New Zealand Partnership Visa allows partners of New Zealand citizens or residents to live and work in the country. If you are in a genuine and stable relationship with a New Zealander, this visa category offers you a path to be together in New Zealand.
Types of Relationships Recognised
New Zealand’s immigration rules recognise various relationship forms:
- Married couples: Legally married couples can apply, but the marriage needs to be recognised under New Zealand law.
- Civil union partnerships: This is a legally recognised union that provides many of the same rights as marriage.
- De facto relationships: This is where a couple lives together in a relationship akin to marriage but without a formal marriage or civil union. Both opposite and same-sex couples can be in a de facto relationship.
Main Requirements for the New Zealand Partnership Visa
The Partnership Visa demands a rigorous assessment of various factors to ensure that the relationships are genuine and not an attempt to circumvent immigration rules. Here are the expanded main requirements:
Genuineness of the relationship
INZ places a great emphasis on the authenticity of the relationship. Both partners must provide evidence that their relationship is genuine, stable, and likely to endure. They’ll evaluate how long you’ve been together, how often you see each other, and the depth of your interdependence.
Couples should generally be cohabiting to qualify. However, INZ recognises that some couples may live apart due to circumstances beyond their control. In such cases, they will consider the reasons for any periods of separation, the length of separations, and your commitment to a life together.
Meeting health requirements
The visa applicant must have an acceptable standard of health, which may require a medical examination. Certain health conditions might lead to visa denial due to the potential burden on New Zealand’s health services.
Meeting character requirements
The applicant should be of good character, which typically involves police clearances from countries where they’ve lived for more than 12 months in the last ten years. Significant character issues, like serious criminal offenses or misrepresentations in past visa applications, can impact visa eligibility.
Sponsorship by the NZ partner
The New Zealand partner must act as a sponsor, agreeing to support the applicant and be financially capable of doing so. The sponsor themselves must meet character requirements, and if they’ve previously sponsored partners, there may be restrictions on doing so again.
Duration of the relationship
While there isn’t a strict minimum time requirement, a longer, well-established relationship with shared life responsibilities is seen more favourably. However, even relationships of a shorter duration can be recognized if they are genuine and stable.
Both parties in the relationship must be aged 18 or over. If either partner is aged 16 or 17, parental consent will be required.
Consent of the relationship
Both parties should enter and continue the relationship of their own free will. Any indication of forced or coerced relationships will not be tolerated.
Both the applicant and their NZ partner may be interviewed by INZ to assess the credibility of their relationship claims. The consistency of statements, shared knowledge, and relationship history will be assessed.
Evidencing Your Relationship
Evidence of a genuine and stable relationship is crucial. This might include:
- Joint finances: Shared bank accounts, joint asset ownership, or shared financial responsibilities.
- Communication: Emails, texts, or call records showcasing regular communication, especially if you’ve spent time apart.
- Shared responsibilities: Joint care of children, shared housework, or joint decision-making.
- Social aspects: Shared social activities, mutual friends, or family knowledge and acceptance of the relationship.
- Duration and nature of the relationship: Length of the relationship, how you’ve navigated challenges, and plans for the future.
The process typically involves:
- Lodging an application: This can be done online or on paper, depending on the applicant’s current location.
- Supporting documentation: Ensure you have all the relevant documents to prove your relationship, identity, and other essential aspects.
- Application fees: There’s a fee associated with applying, which varies depending on where the application is lodged and the applicant’s nationality.
- Interviews and additional information: Immigration New Zealand (INZ) might request an interview or additional details if there are any uncertainties regarding your application.
- Decision: Once INZ is satisfied, they will either approve or decline the visa application.
Duration and Conditions
Upon approval, the visa’s duration will depend on the length of the relationship:
- Less than 12 months: Initially, a work visa valid for 12 months is granted. After this, the holder can apply for a further visa.
- More than 12 months: The holder can be granted a resident visa. After two years of being granted this visa and continuing to meet the criteria, the holder can then apply for permanent residency.
It’s essential to note that the visa holder must remain in the relationship for the visa to remain valid. If the relationship ends, it could affect the visa status.
Challenges and Common Mistakes
Some common pitfalls to avoid include:
- Insufficient evidence: Always provide robust evidence of the genuineness and stability of the relationship.
- Inaccurate or incomplete information: Ensure all details are accurate and that the application is complete to avoid unnecessary delays or a potential decline.
- Not meeting character or health requirements: Be upfront about any potential issues here, and seek guidance on how they might be mitigated.
Seeking Professional Help
Given the complexity and the high stakes involved, many couples opt to seek the assistance of an immigration lawyer or advisor. Professionals can provide guidance tailored to individual circumstances, ensuring the best possible outcome.
The New Zealand Partnership Visa offers a pathway for couples to be together in one of the world’s most beautiful countries. However, navigating the application process can be daunting. Armed with knowledge and, if necessary, the support of professionals, couples can embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives in Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with an immigration lawyer for advice specific to your situation.