Relationships and Immigration – A view from Rupert Ward, Immigration Barrister

Relationships and Immigration  – A view from Rupert Ward, Immigration Barrister

Recently my office has seen a large volume of people involved in relationships with New Zealand citizens or residents being denied visas.   One of the hurdles applicants face is that Immigration must be convinced that a relationship is genuine and stable.

I see many people who have failed in their applications for a partner work visa (or for residency based on partnership) because they have not considered properly the amount of evidence they need to prove a relationship is genuine and stable.  A marriage certificate is simply not enough!  Immigration does helpfully provide a list of items which might be supplied and this requirement should not be taken lightly.

Importantly it is up to the applicant to provide this documentation and evidence – it is not up to Immigration to ask for it.

If you are applying for such a visa you could consider including

  • civil union certificate for the parties;
  • birth certificates of any children of the parties;
  • evidence of communication between the parties;
  • photographs of the parties together;
  • documents indicating public recognition of the partnership;
  • evidence of the parties being committed to each other both emotionally and exclusively, such as evidence of:
  • joint decision making and plans together
  • sharing of parental obligations
  • sharing of household activities
  • sharing of companionship/spare time
  • sharing of leisure and social activities
  • presentation by the parties to outsiders as a couple.
  • evidence of being financially interdependent, such as evidence of:
  • shared income
  • joint bank accounts operated reasonably frequently over a reasonable time
  • joint assets
  • joint liabilities, such as loans or credit to purchase real estate, cars, major home appliances
  • joint utilities accounts (electricity, gas, water, telephone)
  • mutually agreed financial arrangements.

References from family, friends and neighbours are often very important.

I have also seen a number of applications fail because Immigration have considered they have been misled by an applicant in the past.

Supplying misleading or false information to Immigration often has harsh consequences.

Many people do not recognise the need to keep INZ informed of changes affecting their immigration status.  That could include losing your job (if you are on a work visa with a specified employer) or the end of a relationship (where you are in New Zealand based on a relationship).

So, if you are in New Zealand on the basis of a relationship and the relationship ends what can be done?  This all depends on your situation but you should seek advice – Generally, Immigration must not be left in the dark about this because it will have been the basis upon which you your visa was granted.   Leaving it or ignoring the issue is likely to reflect badly on you in the future.  Legal advice should immediately be sought about your position and how you can protect yourself.   The correct approach will depend on your personal circumstances.

Another common mistake relating to relationships is not declaring them correctly on applications – do not declare that you are single if you are not!  Even if you are not including a partner in an application (for example, they are staying in your home country) you need to disclose the existence of a relationship.    If you are confused if your relationship is serious enough to tick the “de facto relationship” box you should seek advice.  Clarity with Immigration is vital.

Immigration is unforgiving to people who say they “did not understand” the difference between being in a relationship and being single.   If in any doubt get legal advice.  Making a small mistake with an application can have lasting consequences.