New Zealand immigration: spouse and de facto partner visas
If you are a New Zealand citizen, a lawful permanent resident of New Zealand, a returning resident in possession of a valid returning resident visa for entry into New Zealand, or an eligible Australian citizen permanently residing in New Zealand, and you wish to bring your foreign wife, husband, or partner to New Zealand, you may be eligible to sponsor your immediate family members to obtain a migrant-class residence visa which grants the privilege of living and working permanently in New Zealand. The qualifying sponsors and intended immigrants must meet specific visa eligibility requirements and go through a long and complex application process before they can obtain permission to migrate.
In general, New Zealand immigration law differs from those of other English-speaking countries, particularly such popular migration destinations as Australia, England, Canada, and the USA. The process of obtaining a visa for your prospective spouse to come to New Zealand does not work the same way as in other countries. For instance, permanent residents and citizens of the UK and Australia can bring a foreign national to their country under the prospective marriage (fiancee) visa category, while in US immigration law the K-1 fiancee visa category is designed to allow a US citizen to bring a foreign fiancee to America for the purpose of getting married. In New Zealand, however, an eligible sponsor can only bring someone into the country on a residence visa. There is no fiancee visa category in New Zealand migration law. Besides, it is strictly required that the sponsor and intended immigrant have been married or living in a de facto relationship for at least one year immediately preceding the filing of the residence visa application.
The definition of a partnership under New Zealand immigration law is very strict. Immigration officials will request documentary evidence to confirm that you have been in an ongoing and committed relationship with your wife, husband, or de facto partner for at least one year prior to sponsorship. This may involve submitting numerous supporting documents as proof that your marriage or partnership is bona fide, and that you entered into your union in good faith, and not to evade New Zealand immigration laws. In general, the 12-month relationship requirement is a "testing period" before a foreign national who migrates to New Zealand through a New Zealand spouse or partner becomes a full-fledged lawful permanent resident. The purpose of this condition is to guarantee that only people who form real marriages and partnerships will obtain immigration benefits.
We strongly encourage you to start your visa journey by becoming familiar with the strict eligibility requirements. Your wife, husband, or partner may qualify for a residence visa in one of the following immigration categories: