Guide on Partnership Residence Visa

Partnership residence visa may be an option for you if you have lived together for a period of time with an eligible sponsor.

If you want to learn about Partnership Residence Visa, you've come to the right place.

This guide has everything you need to understand the basics of Partnership Residence Visa. You'll also find links to useful resources from our blog and video throughout, so you can plan your next steps.

What is a Partnership Residence Visa?

If you are a partner of a New Zealand citizen or resident, then you may be able to apply under the Family visa category based on that relationship that will, upon approval, allow you to live in New Zealand permanently as a resident.

Let's take a look at what's involved.

How does it work?

If you have a "genuine and stable relationship" with a New Zealand resident or citizen, then you may be able to apply for a partnership visa residence under this category. You will need to have lived together for at least 12 months, and your relationship with your supporting partner must be genuine and stable.

Regardless of whether you have been living together for several years or have children from the relationship, Immigration New Zealand will still want to see documents that will back up your claim, so ensure that you keep a record of relevant paperwork.

Under the Partnership Category, you will need to satisfy each of the following requirements:

  • meet general requirements; and
  • meet relationship requirements; and
  • meet sponsor requirements.

It is not a mandatory requirement for you to be holding a temporary partner visa based on the relationship. You may hold a New Zealand visa under a different category, e.g. a visitor visa, student visa (to study in New Zealand) or an accredited employer work visa, and you may still be eligible to apply for a residence visa under the partnership. Most people choose to get a partnership work visa as that gives you a lot of flexibility.

What are the requirements of a Partner Residence Visa?

General

General requirements include paying the correct application fee, using the prescribed Immigration NZ form, meeting health/character requirements, and being a 'bona fide' (genuine) applicant.

Relationship

You and your partner must have been living together for 12 months or more in a partnership that is genuine and stable. It is not a requirement that you be married to the sponsoring partner. The term 'partnership' includes legal marriages, civil unions and de facto relationships. You will need to provide plenty of evidence to the immigration officer to demonstrate that you meet this requirement.

Sponsoring partner

While applying for a family category visa: Your NZ citizen or resident visa holder sponsoring partner will need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • must not have acted as a partner in more than one previous successful residence class visa application (whether as principal applicant or as a partner); and
  • must not have acted as a partner in a successful application for a residence class visa (whether as principal applicant or as a partner) in the five years immediately preceding the date the current application is made; and
  • the New Zealand partner cannot, in the seven years prior to the date the partnership based visa application is made, have been the perpetrator of an incident of domestic violence which has resulted in the grant of a resident visa to a person under the category of victims of domestic violence; and
  • must meet general character requirements.
  • partner must complete a 'partnership sponsor form.

Meeting the above requirements will mean that you will be eligible for a partnership visa (residence).

Evidence

The kind of evidence you should provide to Immigration New Zealand is as follows:

If you have spent time living away from each other, whether it be due to employment, education or COVID-19, you will need to pay extra attention to providing communication evidence during that time period to show how you maintained the relationship while living apart.

How much does it cost?

The application fee for a partnership-based residence application is $2,750 if you apply while in New Zealand, and $3,610 if you lodge the partnership visa application from offshore.

Other costs might include the cost of getting an eMedical done (i.e. general medical and/or chest x-ray) if your last provided eMedical has expired.

There may be translation costs involved if you live offshore with your partner and your evidence is in a non-English language. That can be quite costly, mainly because you have to supply at least 12 months' worth of evidence.

If you are in New Zealand and your temporary visa is going to expire while the residence visa is ongoing, you will have to factor in the cost of a new temporary visa application. You will need a current visa; otherwise, INZ will stop assessing the New Zealand residence application until you get a new visa.

What is the process for a Partner-Based Residence Visa

Step 1: Assess eligibility

Check if you meet the eligibility criteria and also your partner's eligibility to provide sponsorship.

For example, you will really need to pay attention to what kind of evidence can be provided to Immigration New Zealand. A lack of evidence can lead to an unsuccessful outcome.

Step 2: Compile documents

Gather the requisite information that you will provide to Immigration as part of the partnership application. Your partner will need to complete the sponsorship form and have the declaration witnessed by a lawyer or a JP.

Step 3: Prepare the application

If you are applying on paper form, you will need to find the correct form for partnership based residence visa application. If applying online, you will need to create a RealMe account.

Step 4: Upload required documents

Scan your supporting documents and convert them into PDF files. Ensure that each PDF file remains under 10MB in size. Additionally, make sure your passport-sized photo ("mugshot") is in jpeg format.

Step 5: Make payment

As you make your way through the online application process, you will eventually arrive at the payment stage. At this point, you will need to make the correct fee amount. Payment options include Visa, Mastercard, China UnionPay, Amex, JCB, and POLi (internet banking).

Step 6: Submit your visa application

After you've finished filling out the application and successfully made the required payment, your visa application will be submitted. Immigration New Zealand will provide further guidance if any additional actions are needed.

Get professional immigration advice

To expedite your application, it's crucial to ensure it is error-free and includes sufficient supporting documents for INZ to assess. 

If you're uncertain whether you've met all the requirements accurately, don't hesitate to contact us for a thorough evaluation of your case.

What is the processing time?

A partner of a New Zealander resident visa application typically follows a timeline of six to twelve months from the moment of submission to a final decision.

In some cases, this process may extend beyond the usual timeframe, particularly when additional steps are necessary, including but not limited to a National Security Check by INZ, questions arising regarding the application, or a request for you and your partner to participate in an interview.

What happens when the Partner Resident Visa is granted?

Once you are granted a residence visa and you've completed two years of residence in New Zealand, you'll become eligible to apply for a permanent resident visa once you meet the specified time spent in New Zealand requirement. When the visa is approved, the permanent resident visa allows you to live in New Zealand indefinitely.

If your resident visa was granted while you are outside New Zealand, you will have 12 months' time to arrive in New Zealand to activate the visa.

If you have been living together outside of New Zealand for over five years, and your partner is a New Zealand citizen, you may be eligible to apply for a permanent visa immediately. This means you will be able to stay outside New Zealand for as long as you want and always be able to travel to New Zealand as a resident. However, this route may require more extensive documentation, as you will need to provide evidence spanning a period of five years.

Sample partner resident eVisa NZ
Sample partner resident eVisa NZ

Can children be included in a Partnership-Based Resident Visa?

You have the option to include dependent children in your partnership resident visa application if you have children from a previous relationship. These children should be financially dependent on you.

If the child is not of legal age, you will need to furnish appropriate documentation to prove that you have the exclusive legal authority to decide whether the child can reside in New Zealand or that you have obtained the necessary consent from the other parent.

Frequently asked questions

No, you don't have to be married. As long as the relationship is genuine and stable, and you have evidence to support that, a partnership will be sufficient.
If it is irreconcilable and you have permanently parted ways, the application will likely be declined. Also, if you have a partnership-based visa, you will need to switch to a different type of visa.
If the sponsoring partner is an Australian citizen, then you have to both live together in New Zealand. If your partner is a New Zealand citizen or resident visa holder, then you can apply while living offshore.
No, there is no English language requirement. Even if your English is not fluent, you can still be granted a resident visa if you meet the partnership requirements.
If you are travelling together or if you are travelling by yourself for a short trip, it will be okay, but if you spend too much time away from your partner in New Zealand and maintain two separate residences, things can get a bit tricky.
author headshot Michael Yoon
Last modified on 6 April 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.

Got questions about Partnership Residence Visa but feel lost and unsure?

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From start to finish, with us, you can apply with confidence.
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