Some time ago I wrote a blog on Immigration New Zealand’s outdated approach to assessing partnership visas, suggesting a revision to meet the demands of living together. The assessment criteria, seemingly stuck in the past, pose significant challenges for couples striving to prove the authenticity and stability of their relationships. If you are a New Zealand citizen or resident looking to bring your partner from overseas, brace yourself — the process might not be as straightforward as you hope.

Work and Resident Visas Based on Partnership

For New Zealand citizens and residents seeking to support their overseas partners, the primary avenues available are work or resident visas based on the partnership. However, both applications demand compelling evidence of a genuine and stable relationship, demonstrating at least 4-6 months of living together for a work visa and 12 months living together for a resident visa.

In some applications, Immigration New Zealand has shown flexibility by considering the possibility of granting a visitor visa instead of a work visa. This occurs when a couple can convincingly show a genuine and stable partnership but have limited evidence of living together. However, the assessment remains case-specific, taking into account individual circumstances, the duration of the relationship, and the type of evidence provided during the application process.

The Dilemma of Living Together Evidence

A challenge arises when the evidence requested by Immigration New Zealand reflects more traditional living together arrangements. Requirements like joint ownership of property or postmarked envelopes no longer fit with modern relationships that rely on digital communication, social media, and diverse living arrangements.

Today, communication goes beyond traditional mail, with emails, text messages, and social media platforms replacing stamped envelopes. Older couples, who may not be as digitally connected, face additional hurdles in demonstrating their genuine partnership. For them, authenticity lies in subtle gestures like leaving a heartfelt note on a cereal box — a far cry from the official documents demanded by immigration officers.

The four elements considered by immigration officers — credibility, living together, genuine partnership, and stable partnership — appear subjective. Defining what is genuine, stable, and credible is challenging, especially when a Western perspective dominates the living together.

Challenges for New Zealanders Seeking to Bring Partners from Overseas

For many Kiwis, bringing partners from overseas poses a unique challenge. In certain countries, the living arrangements make it difficult to gather the necessary documents, such as joint bank accounts. In places like the UAE, documents are frequently issued in the husband’s name and dispatched to a PO Box or the employer’s address. Meanwhile, some countries don’t offer the option to establish a bank account unless you are a citizen of that country. Another common hurdle arises when utility bills are registered under the landlord’s name, making the assembly of joint utility documents nearly impossible.

Resigning from a job, leaving behind financial commitments, or uprooting children from previous relationships is not a feasible choice for many New Zealanders. The commitment to New Zealand remains too strong, making it impractical to meet INZ’s definition of living together.

Addressing the Issues and Seeking Assistance

To address these challenges, I suggest an update of partnership rules, aligning them with modern relationships. Immigration New Zealand should also consider a partnership visa category for couples not living together but wanting to test their relationship on New Zealand soil.

If you find yourself caught in the complexities of the partnership visa process, seeking professional assistance from experts like Laurent Law can make a significant difference. Ensuring comprehensive documentation is provided, can go a long way to meeting Immigration New Zealand’s expectations and assist with a smooth application process.

If you’re in need of assistance with a partnership applications, reach out to Laurent Law to discuss your case and navigate the landscape of partnership visas in New Zealand.