New Zealand resident visas: application process and visa interview

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Jurisdiction: “offshore” and “onshore” applications

Those applying for a New Zealand residence class wife, husband, or de facto partner visa from outside New Zealand may lodge a migration application at the nearest New Zealand Embassy, High Commission or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of normal and legal residence. In some instances, partners of New Zealand citizens and legal permanent residents (resident class visa holders) may be eligible to submit the resident visa application to the New Zealand Consulate outside their country of origin, if they are physically residing within its jurisdiction on a long-term basis (e.g. on a work visa, student visa, or resident visa), and intend to remain there for the entire duration of the partner visa application process.

Those who are currently in New Zealand on a valid visa may be eligible to apply for a residence visa from within the country by going through the ‘onshore’ application process. This process allows eligible applicants in New Zealand to apply for a residence visa under Immigration New Zealand (INZ) family stream migration programme without having to leave the country to lodge the application at the New Zealand Consulate abroad. An onshore application for a spouse or partner visa can be submitted by mail or delivered in person to the local Immigration New Zealand (INZ) branch where it will be processed based on documentary evidence submitted as part of the initial package and the outcome of the partner visa interview, if it is required in order to make a final determination of eligibility.

New Zealand resident visa application process

One of the most important aspects of the residence visa application process for partners and spouses of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents is that the applicant and their sponsor must have been living together in a committed relationship for at least 12 months immediately preceding the date of filing the application. Furthermore, it is important to convince the INZ officer that partners entered into their marriage or partnership in good faith, and not to evade New Zealand migration laws. While it may seem like a simple enough task, some couples get in trouble as they underestimate the overall complexity of the process.

INZ officials are trained to identify fraudulent cases and will therefore be looking for certain types of documentary proof other than simply a marriage certificate or shared address. Immigration officers may ask for a wide range of evidence during the application process, including bank records, correspondence in both names, life, car and health insurance policies held jointly and many other documents that only people who live together in a genuine marriage or partnership would be able to provide. A New Zealand citizen or permanent resident sponsor and their foreign partner are normally required to demonstrate that they share household responsibilities and have joint financial commitments.

New Zealand partner visa interview

If the INZ examiner is not satisfied with the initial evidence, they may require one or both partners to appear for a personal visa interview. During the interview, the migration officer will ask a series of questions to find out more about your case to ensure that the information provided in your initial spousal or partner visa application is honest and accurate. The interviewing INZ officials will most likely ask questions about your life together to ensure that your relationship is bona fide, ongoing, and was not entered into solely for immigration purposes. Statements made during the interview will help the examiner make a final determination of eligibility.

If there are serious doubts concerning the legitimacy of the relationship, the INZ officers may choose to interview partners separately. If there are any conflicts or discrepancies between the answers provided, the examiner may not give the couple a chance to explain or clarify. It is not uncommon for people who are not adequately prepared for the interview to be nervous and therefore answer one or more of the interview questions incorrectly, which can raise suspicions and cause a lengthy investigation or additional administrative processing. For this reason, it is important to become familiar with the different types of documentary evidence accepted by the immigration authorities and prepare thoroughly for the initial partner or marriage visa interview.

Please contact our New Zealand visa team to sign up for a free initial consultation with a licensed New Zealand immigration adviser. We offer an initial 15 minute consultation free of charge, followed by a cost-effective and comprehensive package should you decide to use our professional migration services.

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