Visas for partners of New Zealand citizens and residents18 Jul 2023

A person may apply for a work, visitor or resident visa based on their partnership relationship with their New Zealand citizen, or resident, partner and the relationship can satisfy the various policy requirements.

Knowing where to begin with a partnership application can seem overwhelming and this article may be helpful in providing some guidance.

What is a partnership relationship?

As far as Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is concerned a partnership is a legal marriage, or a civil union, or a de-facto relationship in which a couple are physically living together in a genuine and stable partnership relationship, and which has been entered into with the intention of maintaining a long term, and exclusive, relationship. A couple must be actually living together unless there are genuine and compelling reasons for being temporarily separated (e.g., for particular work and study commitments).

How is a partnership relationship assessed?

Partnership-based visa applications are assessed on the documents provided to evidence the background, credibility, duration of the relationship and the period(s) of living together. Sometimes INZ will also interview a couple individually to confirm the history and details of their relationship.

Because there is so much at stake partnership-based visa applications require careful planning and preparation in regard to the types, variety, timeline and credibility of the partnership documentation.

Each application will differ depending on the background, circumstances and duration of the relationship, but generally speaking the following evidence is recommended:

• A typed statement of the relationship timeline from when/how the couple first met, and detailing all of the main milestones of the relationship to date. It is beneficial if photos additionally evidencing these milestones are inserted at appropriate places with brief captions underneath each photo. Key milestones should include the dates and locations of all periods of living together. This statement should be dated and signed by each person.
• As appropriate - marriage certificate, civil union agreement, birth certificates of children.
• As many documents as possible which are jointly addressed and which show a couple are living together and have shared commitments. If such documents are in individual names these can be provided as they can also evidence that each person is living at the same address at the same time.
• Public recognition of the relationship can be important. This can be evidenced by letters of support from family, friends, neighbours and workmates discussing how they know the couple, and what they know about the relationship history. Social media printouts can also be helpful, if available.
• Financial interdependence is often a key area that INZ looks at to see if a couple’s finances are administered in a manner which is consistent with a genuine, long-term partnership relationship.

How long must a couple have been living together?

For a partnership-based visitor or work (i.e., temporary) visa application the documents must evidence the couple are currently living together, and support the fact the relationship is genuine and stable, exclusive, and likely to endure. The length of time a couple should live together before lodging their temporary visa application is dependent on the history of the relationship, their living circumstance, and the relationship evidence. For example, a couple who have a long relationship history may only need to live together for 2-3 months to gather the additional documents required to support a successful visa application. However, a couple whose relationship has only recently commenced may need to live together for 4-6 months to gather the necessary documents and to sufficiently evidence their relationship history. There is no definitive period that a couple must have been living together but the longer they have lived together the more, and more credible, documents they will have available to support and strengthen their application.

Temporary visa applications can either for a work or visitor visa, but applicants will normally apply for a work visa. Work visas issued to partners of a New Zealand citizen/resident will be issued with “open work conditions” meaning the holder can work in any role for any employer, and also undertake self -employment. Partnership work visas are normally issued for 12 months but can be issued for up to 2 years if the relationship is longstanding.

The New Zealand supporting partner must not have acted as a partner in more than one previous successful residence application (in any category). This must also have been over 5 years ago to support a partnership residence application, and over 4 years if supporting a temporary visa application.

For a residence application the documents must suitably evidence the couple have been living together for at least 12 months. When residence is approved, and the applicant is in New Zealand, the initial resident visa will be issued for 2 years, and it is possible to apply for the permanent resident visa at the end of these 2 years. However, if the couple have been living together overseas for more than 5 years, and the supporting partner is a New Zealand citizen, it can be possible for the residence outcome to be a direct permanent resident visa.


This article provides a brief overview of the key considerations and requirements of partnership- based visa applications. The circumstances and nature of partnership relationships are always very individual and, also because such applications can be emotionally challenging, professional advice from a Licenced Immigration Adviser experienced in partnership applications is strongly recommended. Contact a Pathways™ licensed immigration adviser today!