Is it just about “living together” requirement that Immigration New Zealand is declining en-masse applications of partners of Kiwi-Indian citizens and residents?

Or there is something more?

At least the story of Antoney Aleena, whose application for partnership visa was declined, on the pretext that she has not “lived together” with her New Zealand resident partner Sreerag Radhakrishnan, who is currently working as a nurse in Taranaki hospital base, tells otherwise. 

The Indian Weekender spoke with Mr Radhakrishnan – a registered nurse – who emigrated from the Maldives in July 2018, where he was living with his newly born son and wife, who is also a registered nurse, about his wife’s visa rejection.

“I really feel frustrated with Immigration New Zealand.”

“We have applied for my wife’s partnership visa on June 25 and were assigned an Immigration officer on October 7.”

“My wife received a phone call on October 11, and the first question that was asked to her was if my daughter [two-year-old] can go to New Zealand without my wife,” Mr Radhakrishnan said exasperatingly.

Mr Radhakrishnan’s story is a story of a skilled migrant worker, supposedly much needed for the general wellbeing of New Zealand economy, and the society, and who have equally chosen New Zealand as his new home and sought to create a new life with his wife and daughter.

So far his dream and the journey of migration to New Zealand, despite being a desirable skilled worker, along with his wife, have not been fulfilled.

The current public narrative led by a “worked - up” government Minister Shane Jones, who is asking disgruntled workers like him, to catch next flight home has been at best unhelpful, if not scary.

Mr Jones is unrepentant for comments about migrants and willing to take head-on anyone who wishes to engage with him.

While the political debate around immigration continues to become murkier day by day, the lives of “disgruntled” migrant workers remain the same – fretful.

This is not what the husband-wife duo of Seerag and Antoney would have imagined, who while working as a registered nurse in the Maldives, decided not to extend their respective work contracts with their employers to take their skills to New Zealand, in a hope of creating a better life together.

Seerag and Antoney, originally from the Indian state of Kerala, had first moved to the Maldives for higher studies in 2015, before starting to live together as a couple towards the end of 2015.

In 2016, they travelled back to India to solemnise their marriage in a culturally appropriate manner in the presence of both parents in July 2016 and went back to live together as a couple in the Maldives.

In 2017 they were blessed with a baby girl.

However, much before the birth of their only child in 2017, they have dreamt if migrating to New Zealand and initiated a “Permanent Residence” application, based on their skilled work experience.

Initially, they both have put forward their joint PR application, as most migrants do, and as provisioned under Immigration rules.

However, as part of the immigration requirement, his wife has to demonstrate English Language skills in the form of IELTS test certificate – a requirement that should not have been a major challenge for them except that she was heavily pregnant.

In order to move forward with the journey of migration and bring more certainty in their careers, Seerag rightly decided to remove wife’s application from the original PR application, in a hope that once he can get a foothold in the new country, he would be able to bring his wife and kid, which in this case is also a skilled worker to New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the poor couple had little idea that their dream of living together will be checkmated by Immigration New Zealand’s unreasonable exercise of discretion.

The wife’s visa was declined on the pretext that they have failed to convince the Immigration Officer that they were “living together.”

This is clearly a case that is pointing towards a systematic bias against the Indian community, which is grossly unfair and unreasonable.

To make it worse, Immigration New Zealand’s officers are asking most outrageous questions to some of the applicants, such as Antoney in this case, if their 2-year-old baby can travel alone to New Zealand. (The baby was earlier given a normal visitor visa for nine months, which also expires in November).

The Immigration Minister, the government, and the “worked-up” Shane Jones if he chose to, should be answering that why such “disgruntled” Kiwi-Indians should not be agitated.