I wrote an article in Indian Newslink (February 15, 2013 issue) cirticising the Delhi Branch of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) for the approach its officials had been taking towards Indians applying for visas through that Office.
In particular, INZ in Delhi had created their own procedure to decline visas of partners of New Zealand Work or Student Visa holders. They even went so far as to distribute a document to all Immigration Advisors justifying their approach.
This policy became a subject of intense criticism and complaint, not only by the Indian community but also by Immigration Lawyers, Immigration Advisors and concerned citizens.
For years, management at the Delhi office ignored critics and treated such complaints with patronising contempt and disdain. Like a stone that eventually wears down by drops of water on its surface, the management team in Delhi has now been harshly reprimanded for its policy by senior INZ officials and High Court judges.
On June 17, the Ombudsman’s Office reached an agreement with INZ senior managers in Wellington that the Delhi branch’s practice of declining visas for the partners of Work and Student Visa holders would be reviewed and changed. The document published by the Branch Manager justifying those decisions will be thoroughly reviewed, and almost certainly dispensed with completely.
INZ now accepts that there are serious grounds for concern about the manner in which the Delhi branch has been processing these applications and accordingly review all connected matters. It will also reconsider any applications of partners that have been declined solely on the basis of a lack of incentive to return to India.
The INZ office in Delhi is generally managed by two New Zealand based managers who dictate practice and procedures in that office. It was the two most recent managers who put in place and oversaw the discriminatory campaign against Indian migrants. The Deputy Manager departed in December amongst a wave of criticism from advisors, lawyers and the High Court in Auckland over his decision to start cancelling the Work Visas of Indian workers returning home on holiday.
Simon Smith is taking charge as the Branch Manager in Delhi. During his conversations with me, he has expressed his extreme unhappiness with the way in which the Delhi office has been treating Indian migrants and the reputation that New Zealand has suffered in the eyes of many Indians over the last years.
Therefore, any Work or Student Visa holders n New Zealand who have had their partners visas declined by INZ in Delhi are urged to immediately seek legal advice to take advantage of the Ombudsman decision to reconsider any previous declines.
The agreement by INZ to undertake a review of all of these decisions signals a significant change in direction by the Delhi branch and the removal of the previous management team is a significant victory for those immigration lawyers and brave advisors who risked their livelihood by standing up and fighting so vehemently against INZ and their discriminatory practices.
Alastair McClymont is Principal of McClymont & Associates (Barrister & Solicitors) based in Auckland