Saturday, 9 July 2016

Immigration Matters

So, you have met a girl from Thailand, (or boy) either in there or here. I met my now wife when I was in New Zealand but some of you may meet your partner in Thailand and decide to spend some time together in New Zealand. In other words you want to sponsor her to New Zealand to spend more time with you. Sounds simple right?
Well it can be and there are of course a few nightmare stories on how you go about getting your partner into New Zealand. I am going to attempt to debunk some myths and set the right course for you towards happiness. This of course is the same no matter if you met your partner here in NZ, or overseas, and there is no real limit to what country your partner is from, the same principle applies.
There are two scenarios I will look at .....
Your partner is already in New Zealand - This is by far the best start you guys could have and it it the least expensive also. Say you have met your girlfriend or boyfriend here in New Zealand and you have decided to move in together. The next step in any normal relationship to to plod off to work and save your pennies for future activities like dates, travel, maybe even getting to the serious point of buying a house or getting married. If like me, you want your partner to have some independence and be able to work, then you will try to get some form of employment for you partner.
Work visa application. In New Zealand there is one real good option that will allow your partner to work for any employer in any profession (except the sex industry) and it is called a work visa based on partnership. At the moment these applications can only be made to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in a paper based form and you will need to provide a certain amount of evidence to prove you are in a relationship. For my wife and I, we went down this path after we had essentially been living together for 2 months.
Your partner will be able to fit into this class of work visa if he/she is the following:
  1. A partner of a New Zealand citizen or residence visa holder;
  2. You are living together in a genuine and stable relationship; and
  3. You being the partner will be in NZ for the same period of time, meet the minimum requirements of partnerships, meet the character requirements to be a sponsor, and is an eligible partner under residence category instructions.
Breaking this down a bit more....
A partner of a NZ Citizen or Residence visa holder is someone who you are either legally married to, in a civil union relationship with, or in a de facto relationship with.
Living together in a genuine and stable relationship is defined as being a relationship that has been entered into with the intention of being maintained on a long-term and exclusive basis, and is likely to endure.
You being the partner will stay in NZ for the same time as your girlfriend/boyfriend.
Minimum requirements for partnerships mean you are both 18 years or older (or 16-17 with parents consent), have met before the application was made, and are not close relatives.
Meeting character requirements for sponsorship means, no convictions for domestic violence, not currently serving time in prison a d a few other minor things.
Being an eligible partner means not previously sponsored and been a serial sponsor for may partners in the past. You can only ever sponsor two partners for residence in your life.
I know it gets a bit confusing and there are many rules out there but I like to say there is a form of natural progression when it comes to getting your partner to stay with you in NZ long term and by doing it right at the start, it sets you up for success later.
Moving on, you will need to provide alot of evidence to INZ to show that you are living together in a genuine and stable relationship and I have some tips for you.
  1. Get a joint bank account with both of your full names and the same address obviously;
  2. Use this joint account for all things related to your daily spending as a couple like shopping, movies, travel, and bills (we did this by putting money in every week and going from there);
  3. Change the power bill to both of your full names;
  4. Other utility bills like pay tv, internet, phone etc, change these to both full names;
  5. Book a weekend away in another town or city, if you have to fly there, use your joint account and keep the booking confirmation and boarding passes;
  6. Meet your parents and get their support; and
  7. Take photos... if you have the ability to put date stamps on your photos do that too, get photos with friends, family and out and about travelling.
Evidence wise, these are a minimum to provide to immigration to avoid any hassles and I have seen people miss out these or not have a joint account that have trouble proving their relationship to immigration. Take my word on it, the stress of not knowing or having visa issues can take its toll.
After you have compiled this evidence you will need to prepare an application and write two letters, one from you and one from your partner to immigration explaining who you met, why you want a visa and what you plans are for the future. You also want to get a letter of support from some friends, and your parents if possible.
Once this is done, you make your application and sit back and wait. If you feel it is all too daunting, then you can hire an immigration adviser like me to assist you.

Your partner is still overseas and you want them to come to New Zealand - This is a little more tricky and INZ will want to see some level of commitment to the relationship so it is best that you have met in person on more than one occasion. Again, take photos, meet the family, and think about bringing him/her to NZ as a visitor first.
I would suggest you visit them a couple of times, and make a decision about if you will want to spend more time together. It is also important to look at the intentions of your partner and I hate to say it, but you need to be wise about what it is your partner seeks from you moving forward. There are some truly horrifying stories out there of guys that have sponsored their partners to NZ, and soon after that have empty bank accounts so make a wise decision and don't rush into anything.
Immigration will also look at the age difference in your relationship and if you are in your 60's for example and wanting to sponsor your 21 year old Thai girlfriend to NZ, you may strike some difficulty so be prepared.
Of course in most cases you won't be able to apply directly for a work visa and this is because one of the preconditions of getting a work visa is that you must be living together. This is a bit difficult when you are in different countries so soon after arriving as a visitor then he/she will fall into the above now in NZ category and you can follow my lead up there.
A few tips.....
Always be honest in how you met, and your plans in NZ
Be prepared for some set backs
Keep all your documents and communication between each other for evidence
Seek professional advise if needed.. don't listen to friends and family because every case will be different
Good Luck..!!!
This episode was prepared for me by a licensed Immigration Adviser from New Zealand. Many thanks to Matt at Visahelp.nz for his good oil.