By Gill Bonnett for rnz.co.nz
Immigration New Zealand has released new guidance on how it will assess visa applications by partners of New Zealanders.
The changes affect couples struggling to get a temporary visa for an overseas-born partner.
New guidelines in May made it harder for couples who had not lived together long enough to get partnership visas.
That was partly reversed by the extension of a culturally arranged marriage visa last week.
But today's changes will allow other family visits, including partners who met their New Zealand partner abroad and did not live together long enough to meet requirements for a partnership visa.
Immigration says developing relationships and getting married are lawful purposes and visa assessments will look at the strength of applicants' ties to their partner.
Operational policy manager of enablement Alejandra Mercado said in the guidelines: "As family and social visits, and entry for the purpose of marriage are lawful purposes for a visitor visa, getting married (or entering into a civil union or further developing a de facto relationship) in New Zealand may be considered a lawful purpose for a visitor even if it's not a culturally-arranged marriage.
"The potential that an applicant may apply for a further temporary visa, or apply for residence, within New Zealand does not in itself mean that they do not genuinely intend a temporary stay in New Zealand for a lawful purpose.
"Where a person is seeking to enter New Zealand to join a partner the strength of their ties to that person and any other family they may have in New Zealand is relevant to assessing whether they are a 'bona fide applicant'."
Officials must still be satisfied applicants are unlikely to stay in New Zealand unlawfully or breach their visa conditions.
"For some applications, the positive weight of the relationship may outweigh the relative lack of ties to the home country.
"Applicants who have entered into a relationship with a person living in New Zealand, but are not and have not lived with that person, should be encouraged to provide information and evidence about their relationship when they apply for a general visitor visa.
"This will allow immigration officers to more completely understand the strength of the applicant's ties to New Zealand, as well as those to their home country."