Indian marriages are likely to be again disadvantaged and miss out from the recent relaxation announced by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi on restarting the processing of some partnership-based visa applications.

Minister Faafoi had told the Indian Weekender in an exclusive interview on Monday, September 14 that Immigration New Zealand will be re-opening partnership visa application processing on Wednesday, September 16.

In a news that can once again shatter hopes and cause much frustration amongst thousands of New Zealand citizens and residents who are in relationship with Indians, and their spousal relationship largely forged under the traditional Indian cultural marriages, can potentially miss out from the recent relaxation.

The Indian Weekender has seen letters sent out to Immigration lawyers and advisers by the Immigration New Zealand advising them about the decision to restart the processing of partnership related visa categories which when approved can allow the applicants to join their families in New Zealand without the need of any “exception.”

“We have resumed processing some visa applications from people who are currently not in New Zealand.

  • We are now processing and deciding offshore applications for some relationship-based visas, if they are supported by a New Zealand citizen or resident
  • We are also processing, but not approving, offshore applications for selected visa categories.

We understand your clients want certainty about their ability to enter New Zealand. COVID-19 has impacted people in many ways and New Zealand’s border restrictions have resulted in hardship for many migrants, including those separated from their loved ones,” the letter sent out to immigration advisers and lawyers said.

No respite to partnership based on Indian marriages

However, what can potentially break many hearts is the categoric statement in the same letter that partnership based general visitor visa applications will not be considered.

“The list above does not include General Visitor Visa applications made on the basis of a relationship which does not meet immigration partnership requirements,” the letter said.

For uninitiated, the manner in which Immigration New Zealand responds to the majority of partnership visa applications from Indian spouses of New Zealand based partners is that it issues “General Visitor Visa” for the purpose of allowing them to enter the country and join their partners.

The issue of partnership based visas for the Indian marriages has first emerged in mid 2018 when the INZ Mumbai office had arbitrarily changed the manner in which it was traditionally assessing partnership visa applications by exercising irrational emphasis on the requirement of “living together,” and resulting in mass-rejection of thousands of applications.

The Kiwi-Indian community was incensed with the prolonged delays, which were followed by mass rejection of partnership visa applications resulting in forced separation of families on the basis of a seemingly racist interpretation of partnership without reflecting upon cultural sensitivities of minority groups in the country.

The issue was further exacerbated by an opportunistic plunge by a Minister in the government Shane Jones, who sought to gain some brownie point for his political party New Zealand First at the cost of genuine and legitimate concerns of the Kiwi-Indian community.

The issue had then snowballed in a big community resentment and protests leading to immediate intervention by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern assuaging concerns around any racial bias against the Indian marriages.

Apparently, the then Immigration Minister had made some changes under the category of “Culturally arranged marriage visa” to fix the problem, which most industry experts had then argued was a mere cosmetic change without addressing the main problem.

Immigration NZ had then reverted to previous standard practice of issuing “General Visitor Visa” in response to couple’s applications for a “partnership based visa”.

Unfortunately, many clueless recipients of such “general visitor visas” who were under impression that they had applied and got partnership visa were traveling overseas when borders were closed and since then have been locked out of the country as they do not qualify for an “exception.”

In that regard the latest relief announced by the Immigration Minister is once again leaving out the thousands of Indian marriages from the relaxation offered to partnership visa applications.

An enquiry has been sent to the office of the Minister of Immigration and Immigration New Zealand for further clarification.