New Zealand Law
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Marriage is not important in making an application because the test is the length of time of the relationship, not the marital status. It is fairly essential to show the 12 months together for a partnership based visa, and there is no way to avoid this. An internet or telephone based relationship is not eough as you must have 12 months together.
So the better course would be a work visa and for this she would need a job offer, which may not be possible in her profession, until she has passed the qualifying exams. So a student visa may be better to enable her to come here study and sit the exams, then get a job offer.
To get a work permit she would need to get a job offer in the skill shortag I don't think testinge categories. This will depend on what she can offer. Here is the link to the page-http://www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual/6954.htm
The relationship has to be living together, not a long distance relationship.
She could apply for a visitors visa to sit the exams or a student visa, depending on how long this takes. After you have lived with her for 12 months you can apply for a partners visa. She could also apply for jobs when she has the qualification, and then apply for a work visa.