Time has come to ask this government if it is being ignorant or just arrogant on partnership visa delays, which is largely affecting Indian-origin couples.
First, the processing time of the partnership visa applications gradually slipped from a previous one or two months wait time to a now normal wait time of at least seven-eight months, before even a case-officer is even appointed to look into the application.
Agreed, a lot of general visa processing delay issues started as an operational issue, largely emanating from a major restructuring within Immigration New Zealand, when it closed its majority of offshore offices leaving only Beijing and Mumbai office operational.
That restructuring process started in 2017, and this government had not even formed by then.
It's another matter that now there is not much clarity if the current government had taken charge with a resolve to cut down general immigration numbers or not.
This government certainly has a benefit of the doubt that none of general delays in the visa processing times was of its own making either by choice or by default, and it has been duly absolved of any responsibility toward the delays emanating from operational restructuring.
That olive branch has been given, and the government has duly enjoyed that privilege of taking time to get their teeth to sink into the governance before they start fixing, what they believe was broken in the previous government.
However, this government is now well within two years of its total three-year term, and the problem of visa processing delays has only exasperated, tearing apart families, in some cases children being forced to experience the brunt of separation, very early in their lives.
Unfortunately, this all is happening under the watchful eyes of a government that prides in being a government of compassion and empathy.
It's time to ask the government if migrant families do not deserve any compassion.
Before anyone gives away to the urge of compromising with the integrity of the entire Immigration system, in favour of mere compassion, we would advise them to resist from that temptation.
Our immigration system and the border protection is of paramount interest and completely non-negotiable.
However, so is also, the five-thousand-year-old cultural practice of "arranged marriages" in the broad Indian cultural system – where families meet and decide within themselves where their adult children should form a conjugal relationship – is also of utmost importance for the Kiwi-Indian community.
For the uninitiated, adults within the broader South Asian cultural societies do enter into matrimonial relationship, without having to live-in together, before popping a question to each other.
Yes, certainly our friends and peers from the global west all around the world do see this practice with a sense of bewilderment.
In that regard, we also see them with an equal amount of bewilderment about how they can live together for years and years and still be undecided of popping the important question. There is no right or wrong way of forming a conjugal relationship, just different preferences.
In fact, that sense of mutual bewilderment, appreciation, and embrace of each other's weirdness is the very essence of a truly diverse multicultural society.
This has largely been the case and experience of Indian-origin immigrants all around the world, with those arriving in New Zealand, being especially lucky, for the level of multiculturalism that is allowed to flourish in this beautiful country has been appreciable.
Till very recently Immigration New Zealand has also been able to acknowledge that long-held cultural practice of arranged marriages, and allow legitimate migrant couples to enter into the country, without having to compromise with border protection.
However, suddenly, out of the blue INZ is taking the view that Indian-origin couples who have not "lived together" in their culturally appropriate legal marriages are not eligible for entering into the country on a partnership based visa.
This is indeed a blow from nowhere, leaving most of the partners of the applicants in the cold with no clue of further action.
See how bad it is
24-year-old Davinder Singh (name changed) arrived in New Zealand in 2013 on a student visa for studying a level 7 course in WINTEC Institute, Hamilton.
Since then, he gradually progressed in life, with different types of work visas, supported by full-time employment in his marketing and communications field, finally gaining residency in 2017.
When his professional and migration-al journey was progressing unabated he had rightly put his personal emotional journey in the hindsight, in a sincere hope that once he was able to get a foothold in New Zealand – a country he has chosen as his home – he would be able to start his married life and a family.
In 2018, he travelled back to India for a short period of time to engage with his long-term girlfriend with the blessings of both of their parents.
Subsequently, he went back in January 2019 to marry his girlfriend in a culturally appropriate manner, and formally filing his wife's visitor visa application earlier in May.
His wife's visa was declined on October 18, for the reason that the applicant did not meet the "living together" criteria.
So, technically INZ is having an expectation that this migrant who has devoted full six years of his life to creating a new life in this new country, should now leave his job, for maybe six months or a year and return back and live with his wife to be able to bring his wife into the country.
Are you really serious?
Then what will happen to his goal of further cementing his residency in the country which requires him to stay for another two years before being eligible to get Permanent Residency?
Forget, about the small and medium business who would have hired and trained staff, supported his visa and residency application, only to find that the staff has to go back to his country to live there for maybe one year to bring his wife to the country.
Is this change in "discretion" happening without govt's tacit approval?
Discretion certainly plays an important role in the immigration process, where everyone from the Minister to a junior case officer has to exercise some discretion.
However, can this change in "discretion," that is tacitly refusing to recognize the legitimacy of culturally appropriate legitimate conjugal relationship, of a large number of Indian-origin people, be clubbed as mere "operational"?
How can such a change in discretion happen without the government's tacit approval or underneath a compassionate government?
This is the question that the government needs to mull upon, urgently, and see the bigger picture.
There is a large number of people in their 20s and 30s, who have entered this country about four to six years ago to pursue a Kiwi dream of life.
Now since they have settled in the country, are desperate to start their family life, as soon as realistically possible.
They are happy to wait for six to seven months in the queue to let INZ's operational restructuring happen, only in the hope that they will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And not shown a stop sign by INZ for they have not been "living together" completing ignoring their own traditionally followed practice.