11000 miles apart...the reality
Visas something that if you're dating someone from the other side of the world you will be familiar with. With one of us being from Ireland and the other New Zealand there are currently 0 countries in the world that we can both live visa-free. No matter where we choose to live one of us will need to apply for a visa. We are currently married living in Ireland on a stamp 4 Irish visa. Our list of visas to date looks a little bit like this:
1. UK 2 year working holiday visa
2. Australia 1 year working holiday visa
3. New Zealand 1 year working holiday visa
4. New Zealand 2 year partnership visa
5. Ireland 1 year working holiday visa
6. Irish stamp 4 visa on the basis of partnership
It's been a crazy ride so far filled with paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork all so that we can live in the same country. We wanted to share with you all the information and tips we have picked up over the years regarding each of the visa processes we have been through, we don't claim to be experts but we have become pretty familiar with the visa application forms by now. So if you are in a similar situation we hope this helps you in some way, as we know how crazy and stressful the process is.
1. The first tip we can give is that if you are in a relationship with someone and you know that there may be visas in your future keep EVERYTHING! We mean everything any evidence of your relationship; we will talk about this later but seriously everything!
2. The second tip we can give is a pretty basic and obvious one… stay calm! Don’t stress we know that when reading all the info online it can seem extremely daunting and stressful but the main thing is to read it together with calm heads, things will not seem so bad if you break it down slowly and calmly. The more stressed you get the more complicated the info seems. Every visa we have ever applied for looks ridiculously complicated at first read so read everything numerous times. Once you have been able to process the information correctly it becomes easier.
3. Break everything down. Don’t try and gather everything at once or fill out all the sections of the applications at the same time, take each of the sections to figure out what you need and ensure you have everything required before moving on. Trust us there is nothing worse than getting ¾ of the way through your application only to realise you haven't completed some paperwork from an earlier section. This advice mostly applies to any partnership visa applications because with these you will need police certificates, bills, evidence of your relationship and even possibly a medical. All of this takes time to acquire and some of it has an expiry date. For example, your police certificates and medical will have a 3-6 month expiry date from the date of issue meaning that you must have your completed application sent before they expire.
For the New Zealand Visa, they look at things like
- how long you’ve been together
- how long you've been living together as a couple your living arrangements
- whether you support each other financially
- how you share financial responsibilities
- how committed you are to a life together
- whether you own property together and/or share your property
- any children you have together, including your arrangements for their care
- whether you share common household tasks
- whether other people recognise your relationship.
This is why we told you earlier to keep everything. You will need to accompany your partnership visa application with various pieces of evidence confirming your relationship. One of the main things being proof you and your partner have been living together for a certain amount of time, for New Zealand, we had to prove we had been living together for 12 months. For Ireland on the de-facto visa I believe it is 2 years, we never completed this visa as we were getting married but we did a little research into it. This evidence will be any bills you have in joint names, joint bank account bank statements with your address on them. If you do not have anything in a joint name make sure to keep all documents that are posted and dated to each of you individually at the same address for the required time period. A lot of statements and bills are now e-bills however if you can opt for posted bills do so as these will not need to be stamped and verified. Any bills you print from online/e-mail will need to be stamped and verified by the provider. We would suggest having something in a joint name whether it is an electricity bill or insurance policy or even a T.V.licence. We had various joint policies and a joint bank account. You may be asked to show evidence of joint finances again this could be a joint account, a name on a rental lease or like we said even joint names on a bill. It is very useful to get some of this set up if you feel like you and your partner will be applying for a partnership visa in the future.
For the committed life together evidence we were lucky at the time we had just booked our wedding so we used the deposit slips from the bookings for that. However you could use anything that you have planned as a couple to show this, like trips or plans to buy a house together, plans to have a family anything that shows you are planning things in the future together. For the section on whether other people recognise your relationship it is good to keep any emails, cards or messages from friends or family members that mention you as a couple, we had various e-mails from parents and friends which talked about plans with us as a couple and our engagement and upcoming wedding so we used these as our evidence for this section.
Pretty much every partnership visa will require you to have a police check done, these are required from any country you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 5 years. Each country has a different policy for getting one, for example, the U.K. and NZ have an official form that needs to be filled out and sent off with the fee, however for Ireland you contact your local Garda station to request the police check and only pay the postage fee. Some visas will require a full medical, for the NZ partnership visa this was the case however it was simple as they recommended an approved practice that I just booked into letting them know it was a visa medical and they knew exactly which tests need to be done.
Other than that it is your basic passports and passport photos that will need to be sent away with your application. We would advise to give yourselves plenty of time to complete the applications, go through and see what you can do early and check the processing times for the things like the police certs and medicals and plan your time wisely so these certificates do not run out before you are able to complete your application. Also, check the visa processing times as these can sometimes be up to 6-9 months for some visas.
Like we said there are currently 0 countries that we can both live in visa-free so we have used the working holiday visas as our stepping stones to build up time required for living together etc This was really helpful for us and the working holiday visa forms are a lot simpler than the partnership forms so if you are in a similar situation and wondering how you are going to meet the minimum living together requirements try this use the working holiday visas either for one of your countries or somewhere completely new it helped us so much over the years.
We are no experts but we have filled out a form or two over the years so we hope this information helps you a little as we know how much of a struggle it can be to find out any information when you are going through the process. It can be an extremely frustrating a stressful time when you are filling out the forms especially because you know that one wrong entry can mean that the visa is denied and you may be separated from the one you love, so remember to take your time, plan and document EVERYTHING!