The Comprehensive Common Sense Guide to New Zealand Partnership Visas
Partnership visas are for those who are in a genuine, stable relationship with a New Zealand resident or citizen. If you have started living with a New Zealand resident or Citizen during your time here and you wish to stay in the country with them you can apply for a visa under the partnership category.
You do not have to apply for a partnership visa if you are on another visa type that allows you to stay longer term or has a path to Citizenship, but it may be the best way for you to stay here with your partner indefinitely. If you and your partner have chosen New Zealand as your home long term, or are unable to take your partner with you to your home country at the end of your visa term, a partnership visa is a great way to settle down here together.
What are the Main Requirements?
In order to have a partnership visa approved you will generally need to meet these conditions:
You are over the age of 18 (or 16-17 with parental consent)
You are in good health
You are in a genuine and stable relationship with someone who currently holds a New Zealand Residence Permit or Citizenship
You are currently living together (for work and residence visas)
You are able to provide sufficient evidence of your relationship
You meet character requirements, such as a police check
You support each other financially
You share finances, such as a bank account, bills and assets
Your relationship is public and known to friends and family
You are committed to continuing the relationship long term
Your partner is not a close relative (i.e first cousin, sister, daughter or parent)
Your partner is an eligible sponsor
Partnership visas in New Zealand are available to couples of all genders and sexual orientations. The New Zealand government recognises same sex partners and same sex marriages. The government as well as the majority of the people living here are very supportive of the rainbow community. Your gender or sexual orientation will not be a factor when applying for a partnership visa here. They will just assess whether you are in a stable and genuine relationship with another person, and whether you are both eligible to live, work or study here.
You can include dependent children in a partnership visa application. Your children must be under the age of 24, single, living with you and financially dependent on you. You also need to have custody of your children. If you are bringing them from another country you need evidence from that country showing that you are legally allowed to remove them from their home country. Children included in a partnership visa application will also be required to meet the same identity, character and health requirements as the principal applicant, who is their parent/legal guardian.
Your partner must also be an eligible sponsor, which means:
They hold a current New Zealand resident visa or Citizenship
They are over 18 years old (or 16-17yrs with parental consent)
They have not sponsored another person on a partnership visa within the last 5 yrs
They have not sponsored more than 1 other person for a partnership visa
If they themselves entered on a partnership visa they must have held residency here in New Zealand for at least 5 years prior to sponsoring someone else for a partnership visa, they are also likely to be asked to explain when and why their past relationship ended
Your partner must also meet the same character requirements as you for your visa
If they were convicted of domestic violence in the past they may not be able to sponsor you
Is a Partnership Visa the Best Option for You?
If you are already on another visa type that allows you to stay in New Zealand long term or indefinitely you may not need to apply for a partnership visa. It may be that your current visa is all that you need and will not prevent you from continuing your relationship and life here in New Zealand. Take advice.
If for example you are on a skilled migrant work visa which has a path to residency (and therefore citizenship) it could be easier to simply remain on the path you have started and stay in the country that way. If you have residency already you do not need a partnership visa. Anything less than residency and you should consider which visa path will be best and easiest for your personal circumstances, and the requirements that you meet. Declaring your relationship is of course important whatever type of visa you apply for.
If your relationship has started recently, but your current visa is coming to an end you face some risks. It might be better to extend your current visa while you work on building up your relationship evidence, and get a year of living together under your belt before you proceed with a partners visa. If your relationship started a month ago or you are not yet living together it’s very unlikely that an immigration officer will class it as a ‘genuine, stable relationship’.
Even if you are married, but didn’t have a relationship prior to (or after) that marriage for over a year you may run into trouble when applying. There have been cases in the past where people get married overseas after only just meeting, and think that will be enough to get them residency in New Zealand, it will not. Immigration officers who deal with partnership visas are accustomed to many kinds of fraud. They have ways of checking if a relationship is genuine, by New Zealand standards, even if that marriage may be considered genuine by other countries standards.
There are multiple kinds of partnership visas, and depending on which requirements you meet, and the stage and length of your relationship you can choose which option is most appropriate.
Even if you are eligible for a partnership visa, it is one of the more time consuming visas to apply for. If you are eligible for more than one visa type, you can consider which will be the fastest and easiest for you to attain in order to continue living in New Zealand.
An immigration adviser can help you decide which visa suits your situation best. Here at Malcolm Pacific Immigration we are experienced with many visa types and can share our knowledge base with you. We work solely with New Zealand visas, for those wanting to stay in New Zealand. By doing so our expertise is very relevant and not spread thin by too many visa types to stay up to date with. If you are wanting a visa to allow you to stay longer in New Zealand, Malcolm Pacific Immigration will be able to help.
Will You Need Help Applying?
There are many reasons that someone may seek help to complete a visa application. It may be that your English is not as clear as you would like for the forms and understanding the requirements. Perhaps you are unsure if you meet requirements and want to be sure that your visa will succeed. It could be that it’s just simply too much work and you do not have the time, energy or focus to complete it on your own. Partnership visas are a huge undertaking and it is wise to ask for help.
As well as being able to help you put your application together an immigration adviser can ensure your evidence is relevant, and you have filled your forms correctly. It will raise your chances of a successful outcome to have an immigration expert assist you with your forms and check your evidence for you. We can also suggest which forms of evidence are favourably accepted for partnership visas and ensure you have the best possible chance of staying here with your partner.
We strongly advise seeking help from an immigration adviser before you start your application. That way time and effort will not be wasted if you make a mistake. You will be on the right path right from the start. We can also help you to stay organised, so that you don’t lose important documents, and they are presented in a way that whoever is reviewing your application can easily see and understand them. We have a very high success rate with our clients and can put your mind at ease, ensuring you have the absolutely best shot at attaining the visa that you want.
Too often visas are declined or take longer due to simple errors or documents not being included. Working with one of our advisers will prevent unnecessary delays, or visas being declined for technical reasons that could easily have been avoided.
Give us a call today on 0800 800 612
Visas in This Category
There are 3 types of visa in the partnership category, visitor, work and residency. The requirements for each vary, with the resident visa requiring the most evidence and a longer relationship duration (12 months or more of living together).
We here at Malcolm Pacific Immigration specialise in visas for those already in New Zealand, who would like to stay longer or indefinitely. We cannot assist with visitor visa application from outside of New Zealand. However, if you are currently on a partners visitor visa we can help you upgrade it to a longer term work or residence visa, so that you can remain in New Zealand with your partner.
This guide will mostly focus on the ‘Partners Residence Visa’.
Partners Visitor Visas
There are 4 types of visitor visa you can apply for to visit your partner who is in New Zealand temporarily. New Zealand understands the need to physically see your partner when they are away overseas for an extended period of time, and has made allowances for this. A visitor visa is generally granted for up to 90 days (3 months) but can be extended under special circumstances to 6 or 9 months in total, possibly up to 12 months in rare case by case situations.
All of these visitor visas are temporary, and you will need to provide evidence that you intend to return to your home country before your visitor visa here expires. You will also need to provide evidence of your relationship, and that you have enough funds or your partner does, to sustain your living costs for the entire duration of the visa.
If there is a change in circumstances, or in your partners visa, and you wish to remain here with them then you can apply for a different visa. For example if your partner gains residency or finishes studying and gains a longer term work visa, then you will want to stay with them long term. They must have gained that further visa during the time that you are in New Zealand though. It may be that you are not yet living together during your first visit to New Zealand and then the relationship grows, such as a marriage proposal.
The next steps for you would then be to apply for a work or residence visa to be able to stay here long term with your partner. Be very careful when you apply and arrive here on a visitor visa that your intent is not to commit fraud, and you are not entering under false pretences. If it is discovered that you entered New Zealand with the intention to remain after your visa period ended then your visa application to stay long term could be denied and you may be deported.
You can find more information about Visitor Visas on our Visitor Visa Page.
Partners Work Visas
If you intend to work while you are here, and wish to stay for a longer period than a visitor visa you will need a work visa. In most cases if your relationship continues and you are living together for over 12 months, your partners work visa can open the door for a partners residence visa.
The general requirements for partners work visas are:
Evidence of a genuine and stable relationship
Living together with shared finances and responsibilities
Meet health and character requirements
Your relationship is public and recognised by others
You (or your partner) have sufficient funds (salary or savings) to support you for the full length of time of the visa you are applying for (either 1 or 2 years in length)
Requirements will vary slightly depending on which of the partner work visa types you apply for.
Dependent children cannot be ‘included’ in a partners work visa (or a visitor visa) application they must apply separately to you, and be granted a relevant visa based on their relationship with you. Dependents can however be included in a partners residence application, within the same forms.
On a partners work visa you are allowed to study short term, on a course for 3 months or less. For example if you wanted to take a short course to improve your English you would be able to do so. You can also do things such as complete a first aid course for your job or attend a 3 day workshop.
You will normally receive a decision on your visa application within 7 months.
You can find more information about Work Visas on our Work Visa Information Page.
There is only one visa in this category. It can be applied for after living with your kiwi partner for 12 months. Residency will allow you to live in New Zealand long term.
Once you have received a Resident Visa you can work and study in New Zealand without restrictions, for any employer in any occupation. Work or study are not required to maintain a Resident visa.
By the time you get to this stage your partner should have attained residency in order to pass it on to you. If they have not, you will both need to rely on work visas until your partner has been in New Zealand long enough, and meets the conditions to qualify for a Resident visa.
Your partner is eligible to sponsor you
Your partner is a New Zealand resident or Citizen
You have been living with your partner for over 12 months
You both meet character requirements (recent police checks)
You can prove your relationship is genuine and stable
You meet health requirements (including a doctors examination and chest x ray)
You and your partner can provide sufficient proof of Identification (such as a passport)
Dependent children under the age of 24 can be included in your application. They must be relying on you financially, in your legal custody and currently single (not relying on an adult partner for funds). Dependents must also meet health and character requirements the same as yours for this visa.
For Partners of Australian Citizens, if your partners New Zealand residency is based on their Australian Citizenship they will need to be living in New Zealand in order for you to apply.
If you and your partner have been living together outside of New Zealand for over 5 years you may be eligible to apply for Permanent Residency straight away. Rather than the usual two years after getting Residency. This is only applicable to New Zealanders wanting to return home to settle with their partners and children. If you and your partner are already living in New Zealand this won’t apply. Your partner needs to be overseas at the time you apply, or have only been back in New Zealand for less than 3 months.
You will normally receive a decision on your visa application within 12 months.
You can find more information about Partners Residence Visas on our Partnership Page.
Examples of Evidence to Prove your Partnership
There are many forms of evidence you can attach to show that your relationship is stable and genuine. The main focus for immigration officers will be that you are living together and have shared finances and obligations. Sharing finances and financial burdens (such as bills) is one of the biggest signs of long term commitment. You should focus on financial evidence first and most strongly.
Provide as much evidence as you are able to in support of your application. It won’t be bad to have a large folder or even a small box of evidence built up that you can use for this. If you are applying online (rather than paper) bear in mind you will have to upload each piece of evidence individually.
Here are some examples of evidence which can be used to prove a stable and genuine relationship:
Marriage or Civil Union Certificate
Dated rental agreements in both your names
Joint home loan
Joint bank accounts
Joint Credit Card accounts
Child/Children’s birth certificates
Photos together (preferably dated, try to provide a decent quantity from different times)
Communication between you both over time, social media, cards, emails etc
Proof that others are aware of your relationship and see it as serious (such as invitations to family events in both your names, Christmas cards to you both, photos with family etc)
Evidence of leisure time spent together (such as fun days out or holidays away)
Assets which you own together, in both your names
Joint bills (electricity, internet etc) or each paying some of the bills at the same address
Mail addressed to you together at the same place and time
Evidence of and a letter explaining any time apart and how you kept in touch in that time
It is helpful to add a timeline of your relationship from when you met to the time of application. If you want to make it extra nice and presentable add a couple of photos beside each event or month.
For photo’s it’s good to note that Facebook has time stamps on your posts, so if you screenshot the post it not only shows your relationship is public, but shows when these events happened. You can include printed screen shots of when you announced your relationship online, leisure time and trips together, photos with family and friends and photos of you together in your house. Try to have some actual printed photos as well if you can to add legitimacy, and not everything from one source.
Keep copies of all of your evidence. Just in case it gets lost in the post or during the review process. If you work with us we will make copies of your evidence and store it safely in our offices for you.
Being honest is extremely important when applying for any visa. If they suspect you are not in a genuine relationship your visa could be declined.. You will also have to declare on any future visa applications to any country that you were denied a visa before. Lying to an immigration officer is a serious offence, and risks your future here in New Zealand.
If you are not confident your evidence will be sufficient we can assess that for you. If we feel that your application is not likely to succeed we will not proceed with it. We can suggest alternative visas or ways to strengthen your application, so that you and your partner are able to stay here together.
The Application Process
The process for applying is similar between visitor, work and residence partners visas. With variations on what evidence you need to provide and the conditions that need to be met.
The processing time also varies but is expected to be under 4 months for a visitor visa, under 7 months for a work visa and under 12 months for a residence visa. During the time you are waiting for a decision you need to hold a current visa. If your visa is likely to expire while you are waiting for a decision you will need to contact immigration or talk to us about getting an extension to your current visa so that you are able to remain here legally.
Partners Support Form. Your partner will need to complete and sign a form as your sponsor for the visa, which you will submit with your application. Some evidence will be requested with this as well, such as ID, police check, health check, proof of funds if needed etc.
Your Application. You will complete your own application, and attach the required evidence along with it, as well as including your partners form and evidence as your sponsor.
Submit the Application. You can do this online or by post. If you work with an immigration adviser though Malcolm Pacific Immigration they will take care of all of this for you. It will be saved online and cannot get lost in the post or during the review process. You may still need to post your physical passport once your visa is approved though so that they can add the visa into it.
Wait for a Decision. Once your application has been assigned for review the officer assessing it will send you an email. They will also contact you if they require any further clarification or evidence to be sent. Then you wait. A decision letter will be posted to you. The decision may also appear in your online portal if you set one up on the immigration NZ site. However, it will likely just say ‘A decision has been made’ and may not give you the actual decision.
It is important to call and update your contact details if any of them change while you are in the decision phase. That way they can contact you if needed, and to provide their decision.
If you work with us here at Malcolm Pacific Immigration we will manage the entire process including dealing with Immigraiton New Zealand.
If you are unsure of anything during the process, please give us a call on 0800800612, we can help put your mind at ease. We know exactly what is required of you, and how well it will be received.
The Impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19)
While we cannot be 100% certain when things will return to normal, we can make some educated guesses. It is encouraging that we are now back at level 1 in the alert system. This means businesses should be able to run as per usual, including government agencies.
There is pressure to allow some forms of immigration back in as soon as possible, in particular for the partner and skilled migrant categories, as those are the most needed by New Zealanders. Those two will no doubt be at the top of the priority list when visas re-open.
The current restrictions relating to Covid-19 are strict. Very few people who are not citizens or permanent residents are not being allowed in at this time. All who enter must undergo two weeks in a managed isolation facility and return negative test results before entering the community. The restrictions on who can enter NZ are expected to change next year, perhaps even before then.
While there is still a degree of uncertainty, the Partnership Visa Category is open. This category is essential to New Zealanders living here, who should not be separated from their loved ones. The Government is not without empathy for separated couples and families, and is currently in discussions with experts to form a plan to re-open the border. There are entry exemptions being given for those coming to be with partners and family, and those who are unable to leave or apply for an extension to their visas here. We confidently expect some visa categories, including this one, to be opening again at some stage.
Even before applications open again, we here at Malcolm Pacific Immigration can still help you prepare for the moment that they do, to get in early before the rush. If you have everything ready before the day they open again there is a good chance you won’t be waiting as long for results as most others. There are a few things that are time sensitive, but the majority of the application can be ready early, and those final documents can be added in at the end before submitting.
Give us a call for the latest border updates, or check our news page, it is updated regularly.