After sustained reporting by the Indian Weekender, several telephonic conversations and email exchanges with the office of Immigration Minister and senior officers from Immigration New Zealand, we have received clarifications on the “new” culturally arranged marriage visa from the Minister that will assuage some concerns in the community.

It is important to note that following Minister’s announcement on “new” culturally arranged marriage visa on Wednesday, November 13, there has been much confusion and uncertainty about how this “new” visa category will cater for the partners of Kiwi-Indian and other South Asian cultures.

The Minister’s response is below.

“In May Immigration New Zealand issued instructions that made it harder for people from culturally arranged marriages to come to New Zealand to live with their spouse.”

“Previous to May Immigration officers were using a range of exceptions to allow them into the country on visitor and partnership visas. Once here they could prove their genuine and stable partnership by living with their spouse.”

“So most of those affected after May were coming in on visitor visas or exceptions to partnership visas, not on culturally arranged marriage visas.”

“The outcry came from people affected by that change.”

“We investigated, and found it was not in line with government policy, so we fixed it.”

“Now the people who were declined post-May, will be reassessed. Those who would have been eligible before May, should now be eligible again, that is, get the same outcome as they would have before.”

“As I said yesterday Immigration New Zealand thinks it affects around 1200 people for sure, and potentially another 1300 who could apply.”

“So it absolutely is an issue for a large group of people and is a genuine fix for this problem.”

“I have also asked Immigration New Zealand to work with the community to ensure their understanding of culturally arranged marriage is up to date. While facilitation is done by an outsider to the marriage itself, it doesn’t mean partners can’t be involved in the choices for example.”

“I also need to point out that people are mixing up partnership and residency. The majority of partnership visas, are for temporary visitors and workers. A much smaller number are for residency. Partnership does not require people to live together for 12 months - only residency requires 12 months.”

“I understand people want to raise other issues they have with partnership visas, that’s their right, but we are not dealing with all partnership issues with this change.

“I am interested in considering other partnership visa issues in the future, but it’s not an immediate priority in our busy work programme.”

Indeed this is much needed and till date the most helpful announcement from anyone in government that can potentially alleviate the plight of thousands of Kiwi-Indian partners after INZ’s sudden and arbitrary change.

The Indian Weekender will soon be following-up with detailed analysis on this long-persisting partnership-visa issue and continue to engage with all stakeholders, including the affected community, and the government.