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New immigration partnership rules

New immigration partnership rules

De facto partners seeking New Zealand residence will be treated the same as married couples under new immigration rules announced by Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel today.

Under current requirements, de facto couples must demonstrate they have been living together in a genuine and stable relationship for at least two years to qualify for residence. Marriages, however, can be recognised immediately.

“It is the existence of a genuine and stable relationship that is relevant, whether or not the couple is married,” Lianne Dalziel said.

“To qualify for residence under the new rules the applicant must now provide sufficient evidence to satisfy a visa or immigration officer they have been living together in a genuine and stable partnership for 12 months or more at the time they lodged the application.

“Couples in a genuine and stable relationship who have not met the 12 month requirement may still be eligible for temporary permits.

“More significantly, the changes will involve the onus of proof shifting to the applicant to satisfy the NZ Immigration Service (NZIS) by supplying adequate evidence that their partnership is genuine and stable. At present NZIS has to accept the relationship as genuine and stable unless there is contrary evidence.

“These changes will therefore strengthen the NZIS’ ability to safeguard against applicants deliberately circumventing immigration rules using partnership arrangements to gain access to New Zealand residence.”

Lianne Dalziel said she had received letters from New Zealanders who had felt cheated by individuals who had left the minute they got residence.

“The bottom line is that someone who can deceive another person to that extent is unlikely to leave behind any concrete evidence that this was always their intention. However, I have asked officials to include work on revoking residence in such circumstances in the review of the Immigration Act scheduled for next year,” Lianne Dalziel said.

The changes take effect today, Monday 29 September 2003.

Lianne Dalziel said those entering into partnerships solely to gain New Zealand residence, could be subject to penalties for breaches of the Immigration Act, including imprisonment for up to 7 years or a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

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