We at Professional Visa Solutions wish to share our knowledge, experiences and insights as Immigration Advisers during these COVID-19 impacted times in relation to partnership-based visa applications, particularly those currently together in New Zealand.
Overall, this is a very viable avenue, for both temporary and permanent stay, compared to other visa streams.
Essentially, the criteria requires both parties to partnership being credible, and the partnership being deemed genuine (entered into with genuine intention and exclusive), stable (committed, solid and likely to endure), living together (minimum period being three months preferred, consideration given to time apart for good reason and efforts to maintain). In addition the supporting partner must be eligible to support the application (prior partnership sponsorships and any conviction matters impacting). The length of visa which can be granted depends on the evidenced and determined time spent living together, ranging from 12 months to 24 months validity.
With uncertainties in the migrant realm, diminished student, visitor and skilled worker numbers, and short term concessional visa extensions being given by Immigration New Zealand, we have found that many temporary migrants currently in New Zealand are coming forward with enquiries around their partnership formed (many over the last 12 months) meeting the qualifying criteria for a visa.
This is within two areas. Mostly, partners of New Zealand citizens or resident visa holders and those on existing visas granted previously based on their relationship to a temporary worker, visitor or student visa.
We have seen a marked increase in the number of applicants and their supporting partnership whom we are representing in relation to successfully securing partnership-based temporary work and visitor visas (work visas mostly - the benefit of having open conditions of employment).
We suspect the reason for this is due to those whom have formed partnerships whilst both within New Zealand during the last few years where COVID-19 has impacted an applicant’s ability to secure a path in their own right in the last 12 months (e.g. skills-based work visa due to changed labour market) and the situation being a catalyst for those to form stronger partnerships.
In particular, partnerships with New Zealanders have demonstrated good grounds for visa approval, simply because more robust, committed and lengthy living together partnerships have existed due to the nature of life in New Zealand during this time.
Those who have not met with the fundamental requirement to be living together for 12 months or more (in essence, having regard to any time spent apart during this time), are encouraged to seek an extension of temporary stay in New Zealand under the partnership application avenue. This will ensure they are able to obtain a longer stay in New Zealand than other visa types growing their partnership and ensuring they are in a safe nation.
Please be aware that the maximum visa stay duration under normal rules for partnerships with New Zealanders is 24 months. The grant a visa beyond this under these grounds is discretionary.
Those living together for 12 months or more, or nearing this, are encouraged to seek to apply for permanent residence. It is wise to allow ample time to prepare an applicant and have regard to Immigration New Zealand processing times (currently up to thirteen months), as no further temporary visas applied for whilst awaiting the outcome are assured.
It needs to be pointed out that the overall threshold for assessment is higher for residence than a temporary based application, especially if no prior partnership-based application has been applied for supported by the current partner.
In reality, the longer the partnership duration, the greater chance of meeting requirements exist. This is because of a generally higher degree of evidence over a considerable developed time and any risks considered by Immigration New Zealand associated with non-genuine or unstable partnerships reduces accordingly.
It is worth mentioning that special residence criteria exists for those partners of New Zealanders whom have primarily spent more than five years living together with them overseas, eliminated any need to apply for temporary entry firstly.
Partnership applications are not like other category applications, simply because the application of criteria to be met differs. There is no definitive “black and white” approach which can define a partnership meeting criteria, as every partnership is different, thus a case-by-case approach is taken by Immigration New Zealand.
It seems that due to the increased volumes of partnership-based applications Immigration New Zealand’s primary base for processing of partnership-based applications has shifted caseloads to other globally placed processing hubs in which the degree of assessment given by alternative processing branches appears to differ. Thus it is worth presenting an application well to ensure the greatest chance of success.
Professionals like us are here to help navigate the maze and aid in your partnership application matters to ensure you and your partner are able to continue your lives together in New Zealand.
It is important to get it right first time to avoid hassles and further associated costs. The experienced and dedicated team at Professional Visa Solutions will ensure we work closely with you and your partner, every step of the way, from gaining deep understanding of the nature of your partnership to devise the best approach and prepare a case, provide exemplary tailored guidance and advice with samples for you to use, handle lodging an application and deal with any subsequent immigration processing matters which arise, all done with our high service standards with response and confidentiality. All at very competitive prices.