Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has said that he would be talking to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) on the ‘Partnership Visa’ issue, the new procedures of which will impact on Asian communities.
There is likelihood of young couple being separated for a length of time.
Tempers have been flying all over the place for the past two weeks since it came to light that INZ has decided to ‘adhere strictly’ to the Partnership Visa requirements, meaning that applications for a Partner Visa will be determined by the ‘genuineness and length of the relationship.’
“This is an operational decision taken by INZ without consulting me. I will be talking to the officials on this and other issues shortly,” Mr Lees-Galloway told Indian Newslink.
He said that New Zealand’s immigration policy does not deal with ‘Cultural Marriages.’
Such marriages are common among South Asian communities. Marriages are arranged by parents on both sides and celebrations are held in their country of origin.
INZ says that its officials will assess partnership requirements based on (1) how long the couple have been together (2) how long they have been living together as a couple (3) the living arrangements (4) whether they support each other financially (5) how they share financial responsibilities (6) how they are committed to a life together (6) whether they own property together and/or share a property (7) any children that they have together, including the arrangements for their care (8) whether they share common household tasks and (9) whether other people recognise their relationship.
Mr Lees-Galloway said that there have been gaps in the way in the partnership relationships have operated over the years.
“It is clear to me that there are a number of issues that must be addressed to remove uncertainties and make our immigration system work better. I wish to reiterate that there has been no government director on Partnership Visa. INZ has made its own decision to ensure that staff were clear on their own operational decision-making,” he said.
Question of interpretation
While the Policy is to ensure that Partnership Visas are issued only to genuine couples, there are difficulties in defining a stable marriage. INZ applies the length of time a couple have sent together, which does not work with the communities of the Indian Sub-Continent. For instance, a majority of marriages are arranged in India through friends and relatives and through dedicated marriage websites. The bridegroom who lives overseas, say, New Zealand, would have met his wife for the first time just the day before their marriage and would return to this country a month or so after his marriage.
Lawyer attacks INZ
Auckland based Lawyer and Immigration Specialist finds the decision-making process of INZ abhorrent and Anti-Asian.
“Previously, INZ considered a partnership application in terms of whether or not the relationship was genuine with an intention of maintaining it on a permanent basis. Immigration policy did require a couple to be living together at the time of application; so, previously if the relationship was assessed as being genuine thing in our Visitors Visa would be granted as an exception to policy to enable the offshore partner to join the sponsor and continue living together in New Zealand.
“The new changes introduced are now that these Visitors Visas as an exception to instructions should not be granted if a couple are not living together in their home country at the time of application.
“It seemed very clear that the purpose of this change is solely to clear massive backlog of partnership applications currently sitting in the Mumbai office of INZ. However, I have spoken to the Manager of the partnership team at the Hamilton branch office of INZ who has told me that they have also been instructed by Wellington to apply same policy to new partnership applications at that office.
Wrong information disseminated
There is plenty of misinformation and disinformation surrounding the Partnership Visa. Some sections of the Indian community have been critical of the New Zealand First Party for meddling in immigration matters, which made MP Shane Jones lash out.
And then he made a stupid and idiotic remark: “I would just say to the activists from the Indian community, tame down your rhetoric, you have no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand and if you don’t like it and you are threatening to go home – catch the next flight home.”
That was indubitably an irresponsible statement from a Minister of the Crown
We will continue our discussion of this topic in the next issue.