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How can I bring my overseas partner to NZ?

17 March 2022

Well to start with, let’s clarify that we are talking about offshore partners of NZ citizens and residents only. There’s a long answer and a short answer. Let’s start with the short one.

Offshore Partners - The Short Answer

If you have not lived together (physically cohabitated) with your offshore partner for a “reasonable” period of time, you cannot get a partnership application (work or visitor) approved, even if you have met the other criteria of genuine, credible and/or stable. This “reasonable” period does not need to be 12 months, but it needs to be long enough for INZ to be convinced that living together requirements (as intended by the policy) are met. 

Now this is where the goal posts often move. Some immigration officers accept three months, some four months and some want even more. This has been one of the biggest points of anguish for many migrants (and their representatives) over the pandemic period. There is a lot of inconsistency and a huge amount of subjectivity from the assessing officers. 

If You Have Not Met the Living Together Requirements…

Say you took some annual leave from work in NZ, went to India, got married, spent a bit of time with your spouse and returned to NZ, which is a very typical scenario. Now since you would not meet the ‘living together’ criteria, you could do two things.

1. You could travel to India/your partner’s country for a few months (“few” being a number dependent on your case), and physically live with your partner for the duration of your trip. 

Then you could apply for a partnership based visa (either through Immigration Online/Realme account or through the border exemption application process on INZ website). Once approved, you could travel together to NZ on this new visa. 

This is not easy for many to do as it requires people to be away from their NZ lives and jobs for a considerable period of time; no easy feat unless one can work out a sensible sustained remote working arrangement. 

2. Put your faith in the government as many without other options have been forced to do. Faith that the government would finally look at the dire situation of split families and with the flurry of further border announcements expected over the next 2-3 weeks, this would take the top spot. In the 16th March 2022 border update, the group that has by now endured years of separation and misery, was woefully ignored, again. 

Changes in the Months to Come

With many 2021 Resident Visa approvals expected in the coming months, many single applicants might like to get married. This is when these policies become critical and new residents are able to work with the options available to them. New marriages will take the go-to option of Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitor Visas but those caught up in this whirlwind issue to split families have been married a while now. Elections are close, pressure on the government is high - so the entire industry must wait to see if these two factors combined will finally bring some relief to those in a dire need to reunite with their loved ones.

– Zinnia Manchanda, Operations Manager & Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser #201600267

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