The government needs to show some leadership in partnership-based visa delays. The response offered so far by the government, to a problem that has existed for quite some time and is rapidly aggravating, causing much economic loss and human-pain, is at best lacklustre and ineffective.
Agreed, the genesis of the problem of visa delays is not the making of this government, as the decision of closing bulk of offshore visa processing centres was taken way back in September 2017, and would have some expectation of the fall-out of the decision of this major administrative-step resulting in visa processing delays.
However, almost two years have since passed, and the government is firmly in place, and the problem of delays in visa-processing has gradually aggravated to a level of becoming unreasonable under the watchful eyes of the government.
Kuldeep Sahni (name changed) - an IT professional who is in the country on an employer-assisted work visa since mid 2018 and had filed for a partnership based visa for his wife of three years told the Indian Weekender, “The current level of uncertainty with around seven to eight months of wait for a partnership based visa is completely unreasonable.”
“I was supposed to be in the country for a two year period as per the length of my work visa and eight months has already passed without an appropriate visa for my wife.”
“You need to give clarity, and reasonable expectations to foreign-skilled workers before getting them into the country temporarily, about if, and how quickly, they can get their partners along with them.
“To come here on a two-year work visa and then find out that you are unable to get your wife for the first seven-eight months is not fair,” Mr Sahni said exasperatingly.
“I had made my plans to come to New Zealand based on earlier expectations of maximum three to four months wait period for getting partnership based visa approved,” Mr Sahni further added.
Licensed Immigration Adviser Samip Shah of Aussizz Migration and Education Consultants (NZ) told the Indian Weekender that on an average provided all things remaining same, the processing times of partnership-based work visa has doubled in the last two years.
Meanwhile, the experiences of those living in the country permanently as opposed to those living temporarily on different visas is not in any way less-anxious with the uncertainty associated with the long delays in partnership-based visas.
Mohammad Zeeshan, a marketing communications professional who has lived in the country for last five years on different visas, first starting with student visa before finally getting residency in 2017 had travelled back to India last year to marry his long-time girlfriend and start a family had a similar story of frustration to share with the Indian Weekender.
“I had an impression in my mind from several anecdotal experiences of my friends that it took about 2-3 months for Immigration New Zealand to give partnership-based visas,” Mr Mohammad said.
“I had always shared this general experience and thereby setting an expectation for her that when we eventually get married and start a life together, it would be a matter of a few months before we can be together in New Zealand.”
“However things have changed dramatically since we got married last year and I decided to put her application. It has been already six months, and it has yet to be assigned to a case officer,” Mr Mohammad said.
There are many similar stories out in the community with some desperate applicant-partners already had protested in Auckland last month and some very recently in INZ’s offshore office in Mumbai calling for urgent corrective measures.
According to an estimate, currently there are more than 8000 applications in INZ system waiting for partnership based visa and a whopping 33 per cent of those applications are emanating from India.
The Immigration Minister Iain-Lees Galloway has so far ducked the issue hiding behind the walls of “operational necessity” and the responsibility of INZ rather than fronting up and taking charge of a fast-developing problem.
Lately, the Minister is reported to have expressed his displeasure to MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain and Immigration NZ deputy chief executive Greg Patchell for the delays in visa processing.
However, this is too little and too late, and supremely devoid of any leadership on this problem.
Immigration can surely make or break nations. A regular and reliable supply of qualified immigrants in a just, legitimate and humane fashion is not only fundamentally crucial for the success of businesses, families and the communities, but the entire nation.
It is on thriving businesses, workforces, families and communities that a nation becomes successful and thriving.
However, immigration also can potentially make or break individuals, especially those who have to bear the emotional pain of separation from their loved ones, especially partners, for an unreasonable period.
Currently, New Zealand’s immigration system is operating in a manner where the wait time for joining with one’s partners already in the county has increased drastically to almost becoming “unreasonable.”
The government will do well to demonstrate some leadership on this, and sooner will be better.