After a 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 around every possible scenario currently bugging the majority of the Kiwi-Indian community. 

Immigration New Zealand has told The Indian Weekender that after latest circular released on Tuesday, November 19, seeking to amend their operational manuals, everyone wanting to join their partners living in New Zealand will be eligible for a General Visitor Visa provided they meet all other normal risk assessments.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment released a circular to make amendments to the Immigration New Zealand Operational Manual on the much-awaited Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitor Visa instructions.

There are seemingly confusing directives within this new circular that are causing concern within a large section of the community, especially those whose partner’s visa application has been recently declined or in the queue or who are in the process of marrying within their chosen partners and start a family together in New Zealand.

Given that this issue was of utmost interest and concern for the Kiwi-Indian community, The Indian Weekender had been on top of this extremely important task of raising the voice of the community and clearing the clutter on partnership visa issues that have generated more confusion and uncertainty than a few months ago.

We were inundated with a tsunami of questions, especially after the recent announcement by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway about the “new” cultural arranged marriage visas as the possible pathways for the Indian partners of Kiwi residents and citizens.

Some of the questions that emanated after Minister’s announcement on Wednesday, November 13 were like

What visa should my partner now apply to be able to join me in New Zealand? Culturally arranged marriage visa or partnership visa?

I was in a long-distance relationship with my partner overseas and based on the definition of culturally arranged marriage I might not qualify in that strict definition. What visa should we apply to get my partner in the country?

My wife’s partnership visa was declined recently for want of “living together”. We had applied for a normal visitor visa, which was also declined? What are our chances of living together?

Unfortunately, the following circular to make amendments to the Immigration New Zealand Operational Manual released on Tuesday, November 19, also was least helpful in clearing the confusion.

Several prominent immigration lawyers with whom The Indian Weekender was constantly in touch to understand the nature of change announced by the Minister also shared their concerns about cracks in the recent announcements.

Some of the common concerns shared with The Indian Weekender were like:

  • What does “facilitation of the initial selection of the persons to be married” actually mean in practice? 
  • The amendments to immigration instructions refer only to the partners of New Zealand citizens and residents. Does this mean that the partners of work Visa and student Visa holders who have entered into culturally arranged marriages will not qualify? 
  • What will happen to those couples who would not be able to file a culturally arranged marriage visas within the mandatory three months window?

The list of questions and uncertainty was long and endless suggesting the level of confusion within the community and the absence of authoritative information.

Now, The Indian Weekender has received access to the new updated INZ’s guidance that will replace the previous similar guidance issued on 10th May 2019 that has precipitated the current crisis and confusion in partnership visa issues.

Earlier, The Indian Weekender also spoke with INZ’s Assistant General Manager, Peter Elms, and figured out that we need to move away from the “fixation” on the newly announced culturally arranged marriage visas as the only option for partners to come to New Zealand.

Mr Elms told The Indian Weekender that the previously issued “General Visitor Visa” is returning back from November 18 circular that will effectively facilitate entry of people in NZ to join their legitimate partners, provided they meet all risk assessments.

The Indian Weekender is bringing out a detailed analysis that will clear all the clutter on culturally arranged marriage and partnership visa issues.

And yes partners of people currently in New Zealand on temporary visas (work visas and student visas) will also be able to join them in the country.