Often, we encounter New Zealanders who’ve spent years abroad and wish to secure New Zealand residency for their partners. While many are aware of the Partnership Resident Visa, some may not realise that partners of New Zealand citizens who have been residing overseas for at least five years are eligible for Permanent Resident Visas. In this blog, we’ll delve into the application process and the advantages of securing a Permanent Resident Visa (PRV), provided you meet the specified criteria.

Resident Visas for Partners of NZ citizens or NZ residents.

Firstly, let’s cover the partnership requirements for obtaining a New Zealand resident visa. To qualify, couples must prove to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that they’ve lived together in a genuine and stable partnership for over 12 months. This involves meeting four key elements: credibility, living together, genuine partnership, and a stable relationship.

Living together means sharing a home, supported by evidence such as joint property ownership or correspondence addressed to both partners. If INZ is satisfied with the evidence, they’ll issue a Resident Visa with travel conditions valid for 2 years.

A New Zealand Resident Visa is issued with the travel conditions which allows the applicant to travel in and out of New Zealand as many times within those two years. If the applicant is offshore, they must travel to New Zealand within 12 months to activate the Resident Visa. The Resident Visa allows a person to stay in New Zealand indefinitely, work in any employment and study in New Zealand.   The applicant can then apply for a PRV after two years. Qualifying for a PRV relies on demonstrating commitment to New Zealand, usually through physically being in NZ for 184 days or more in each of the 2 years immediately, before their application for a PRV.

On the other hand, a PRV is indefinite and has no travel conditions. The only requirement on the applicant is to transfer the PRV to a new passport once their passport expires.

Eligibility for a Permanent Resident Visa for Partners of New Zealand citizens.

Eligibility for a PRV for partners of New Zealand citizens living abroad involves meeting specific criteria outlined in Instructions F2.5.1. This includes:

  • they meet all the other criteria for a Residence class visa under the Partnership Category as described earlier; and
  • they have a New Zealand citizen partner who has been “residing outside New Zealand” for at least five years at the time the application is made; and
  • the couple have been living together in a genuine and stable relationship for at least five years at the time the application is made.
  • the New Zealand citizen partner must either be:
    • outside New Zealand at the time the application is made; or
    • have been in New Zealand for less than three months after residing outside New Zealand for at least five years at the time the application is made.
  • “residing outside New Zealand” means spending less than 3 months in New Zealand in each of the five 12 month periods immediately preceding either:
    • the date the application is made (if the application was made outside New Zealand); or
    • the date the New Zealand citizen partner arrived in New Zealand (if the application was made in New Zealand.

If all criteria are met, the applicant receives a PRV, differing from a Resident Visa in that it has no travel conditions.

Success Story

We recently assisted a couple who had been living and working abroad for an extended period. The New Zealand citizen partner sought to secure residency for his spouse. Despite fulfilling the partnership residency criteria, their demanding work commitments posed a challenge. Granting his wife a Resident Visa with travel conditions would impede her ability to qualify for PRV due to these commitments. However, they desired assurance regarding her immigration status to facilitate their family’s potential return to New Zealand without having to fulfill the residency time requirements.

Consequently, to provide them with the desired certainty regarding their immigration status in New Zealand, we identified that the wife was eligible for the PRV as the partner of a New Zealand citizen. Typically, proving cohabitation for 12 months can be daunting for couples residing overseas, especially in non-Western countries with different living arrangements. In this instance, we collaborated closely with the clients to gather evidence of cohabitation spanning five years. While challenging, the couple diligently followed our guidance and managed to compile the necessary documentation.

Additionally, obtaining records of the New Zealand citizen’s travel history from INZ was crucial to confirm compliance with the residency application requirements, that is ensuring he had not spent more than 3 months in New Zealand in any of the last five years before filing the application. Our client’s residency application was processed swiftly, within four months, resulting in the grant of a PRV. This success underscores the benefits of meeting PRV criteria, particularly when faced with challenges meeting the residency time requirements in New Zealand.


While the pathway to residency through partnership is attainable, it can be complex. However, with proper documentation and understanding of the requirements, securing a PRV can provide long-term stability, particularly for those unable to meet the “time-in-NZ” rules to keep their Resident Visa alive in future years. Should you need assistance navigating this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.