The members of Kiwi-Indian community form conjugal relationships in different ways, reflecting the antiquity and the progress of the vast Indian culture.
Recently there has been much confusion around the types, styles, credibility and genuineness of marriages and relationships for immigration purposes.
Following Immigration Minister’s recent instructions on culturally arranged marriages visa category the confusion has further intensified.
The Indian Weekender has been consistently engaging with all stakeholders, including, immigration lawyers and advisers, immigration authorities, office of the Immigration Minister and the members of the community.
Based on our assessment, here is an attempt to clear some clutter on different types of marriages or partnerships within broader Indian culture and what kind of visas one can choose.
This information is in no way a substitute for proper immigration advice and in no way, claim to be exhaustive and fully accurate. It is purely for educative purpose, and we recommend everyone to take proper immigration advice before putting up their application.
Definition of culturally arranged marriage
The definition to the marriage follows an identified and recognised cultural tradition where the arrangements for the marriage, including facilitation of the selection of the persons to be married, have been made by persons who are not parties to the marriage.
What has changed in the definition of a culturally arranged marriage?
The shift of focus from “initial” selection to “selection by the third party”. The new amendment to the immigration instructions will recognise current cultural practices to allow the facilitation of the selection process by a third party (rather than the initial selection of the persons to be married). This facilitation must still be done in accordance with an identified cultural tradition.
Marriages in Indian culture can fall in the following four categories for immigration purpose:
Marriage Type A
Culturally arranged marriages where the selection of spouse was made by a third party
If your parents, families or friends have initiated the first contact of finding the prospective partners, then you and your partner will fall under this category. It is absolutely fine if after that initial selection you and your partner get to meet, chat or casually date with each other. If your parents have found each other or your partner from any matrimonial sites (shadi.com Rishta.com etc.) and then arrange the marriage in a culturally appropriate manner, your marriage will still fall in this category as per new changes in immigration instructions. There is no opportunity of “living together” prior to marriage.
Since there is no opportunity yet of living together, therefore the couple can only apply under “culturally arranged marriage visa.” However, they have only three months window to apply under this category.
If they apply after three months, without much demonstrable evidence of “living together” then they can still apply under the General Visitor Visa category.
Marriage Type B
If you knew your prospective partner from your school, college, neighbourhood, work and were or are in a relationship before you convinced both sides’ families, who agree to plan and execute your marriage in a mutually agreed traditional cultural practice with demonstrable social recognition. In India, such marriages where eventually parents and families join the “facilitation of marriage process” are still believed to be culturally arranged marriage. Probably love-cum-arranged marriage is the more commonly used definition in India. However, for immigration purposes, it is authoritatively not clear if INZ will consider it as a “culturally arranged marriage.”
Our limited understanding is that based on a common-sense interpretation of new immigration instructions, it will still be considered as a culturally arranged marriage since marriage was solemnised in an identified cultural tradition with full social recognition. There is still no opportunity of “living together” prior to marriage. You may apply for a “culturally arranged marriage visa,” only within 3 months of the wedding. Subsequently, based on the fact if you can provide evidence of “living together” you can apply for a partnership visa. Otherwise, your best option is to apply for general visitor visa.
Marriage Type C
These are the types of marriages in India where couples have chosen each other, and have decided to marry, in complete defiance of their parents, families and any other social pressure, who may not agree with their choices for a myriad of reasons. In such marriages, it is not possible to follow all cultural traditions, despite their wishful thinking. Even if they do try to follow one or two ritual to solemnise their marriage in a particular way, it is least likely that they will be accepted as a culturally arranged marriage for immigration purpose. It could still be a case where there is no opportunity of “living together” prior to marriage. You may apply for General visitor visa.
Marriage Type D
These are the relationships where couples are “living together” regardless of being ritually or legally married. Since this type of relationship clearly conforms the expectations of NZ immigration of “living together”, so there is no serious predicament in getting a legitimate visa to enter this country. However, the numbers of such relationships are very few and represent a minuscule percentage of the entire Kiwi-Indian community. However, there would be many cases, where individuals have lived out of India, for study or work, and have formed such a relationship, are trying to come to New Zealand for a better life. As long as they can demonstrate that they are in a genuine and credible relationship and living together, they can possibly get a partnership visa.