Common Issues with Partnership Visas

Common Issues with NZ Partnership Visas

Modern relationships come in all shapes and sizes, something which Immigration New Zealand (INZ) appreciates for the most part.  However, stories occasionally come to light in the media which indicate that they sometimes apply a ‘blanket’ approach, rather than trying to understand someone’s unique personal or cultural circumstances.

There are a number of factors that INZ are prone to querying- which will slow down, or may ultimately jeopardise, the progress of a New Zealand partnership visa application. Here, we will briefly discuss three features of partnerships which sometimes cause issues.

Arranged marriage

To be granted a temporary partnership visa, you must normally be living with your partner. There is no specific duration in immigration instructions, but in our experience at least a few months of living together is necessary as a minimum.

With arranged marriages, it is sometimes difficult for the New Zealand-based partner to live with their new husband or wife for an extended period- particularly where they need to be back in New Zealand for work.  However, this creates a situation where the couple may only have lived together for a few weeks after the wedding and cannot satisfy partnership rules around living together.

In 2019, INZ created a special provision for these situations where the supporting partner is a New Zealand citizen or resident. However, for all other arranged marriages where the NZ-based partner is a temporary visa holder, the living together requirement can still cause major issues. INZ’s current approach is that they will refrain from granting visitor visas where the couple have not lived together unless there are ‘truly exceptional circumstances’.

If you are in this situation, there is no guarantee that you will be granted a visa. You will need to provide very strong evidence around the formation of your relationship and intention to maintain it in the long-term. INZ will also look closely at your ties to your home country, and whether you are likely to remain in New Zealand unlawfully if the relationship ends.

Living apart or ‘long-distance relationships’

As outlined above, it is difficult to avoid the requirement to be living together in partnership applications. In the case of a long-distance relationship, sometimes people will have initially lived together for several years, but because of work commitments they are living in different cities and spending time together during weekends or holidays.

This can make it hard for INZ to be satisfied that you are ‘committed to a shared life’- which in their books is a factor indicating a genuine and stable relationship. If there are periods where you haven’t been living together (even as little as a week), you can expect that INZ will query this.

Their instructions require them to seek an explanation from you as to why you have not been living together. This is where you need to provide compelling reasons that you have been living apart, whether that be for family, work or education reasons.

Generally, the longer the period of separation, the stronger the evidence that will be required. Extended periods of separation may be more difficult to satisfactorily explain, but this is very dependent on your particular circumstances at the time.

Cultural or language differences

Today, being in a cross-cultural relationship is extremely common and normally no cause for INZ to be concerned. However, if the cultural, religious or language differences between a couple are significant, a case officer may want to know how this affects the relationship. In some cases where a couple don’t share the same language, it may lead them to believe that the relationship is not genuine or likely to endure.

If there are cultural differences between you and your partner, it may be helpful to explain these to INZ in your cover letter. For example, if you have spent time with your partner’s family, are learning their language, or have attended their place of worship, this can be strong evidence that you are committed to a shared life.

Conclusion

Explaining the features of your relationship properly from the outset may mean that INZ is able to approve your visa without needing more information. However, if INZ raises a concern that your relationship is not genuine and stable, or that you do not meet the living together requirement, a careful and considered response will be required, and in many cases professional assistance.

If you have any questions about partnership visas, please feel free to contact our experienced immigration team.

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