Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that not a single visa application was decided under the “culturally arranged marriage visa category, from their Mumbai office since December last year to March this year, even after the changes made in the category to fix the partnership visa woes affecting the broader Kiwi-Indian community.

Immigration NZ was responding to a query sent from the Indian Weekender about the number of applications received and decided under the Culturally arranged marriage visa category, particularly after the former Immigration Minister had made changes in the category in November 2019, apparently to fix the partnership visa processing crisis.

According to the figures released to the Indian Weekender, the INZ’s Mumbai office received a total of 22, 28, 20 and 30 applications in the months of December (2019), January, February & March (2020) respectively, under the Culturally arranged marriage visa category.

At the same time, Immigration NZ received a total of 2165, 2377, 2762 and 3092 new partnership visa applications (both onshore and offshore offices) in the same month period.

This amounts to less than 0.01 per cent of all applications under partnership visa category were under a culturally arranged marriage visa category.

Confirms anecdotal evidence of low interest in the culturally arranged marriage visa category

This clearly confirms the anecdotal experiences of several prominent immigration lawyers, advisers, other industry stakeholders and the wider Kiwi-Indian community that the changes made by the former Immigration Minister in October-November 2019, with much fanfare, was not the right solution to a problem that is largely rooted in the systematic bias within immigration system towards the “Indian-marriages.”

Those changes made in culturally arranged marriage visa category allowed people who have married overseas to be able to apply for this visa to join their partners in NZ within a short window of 3 months, provided they meet many other strict conditions imposed, including that the bride and groom should not be a party to the decision of marrying each other.

It was widely contested and reported by this publication then, that the majority of Kiwi-Indians who had recently married overseas, after in some cases maintaining a long-distance relationship for several years would not qualify the strict and bizarre conditions under the culturally arranged marriage visa category.

The fact that there was never an uptake under this category, despite a large number of Kiwi-Indian community members planning to get their overseas-based partners to join them in NZ choosing to apply under the original partnership visa category (under which they were largely deemed ineligible as they do not meet with the strict and antiquated definition of “partnership” under the NZ immigration policy.

Not a single visa decided under Culturally Arranged Marriage Visa category

To add insult to the injury, INZ confirmed to the Indian Weekender that not a single visa was decided under this new category, pointing to the fact that the government had no understanding of this complex and systematic bias against the Indian marriages within NZ immigration system.

To make it clear, it does not necessarily mean that all those who have applied under that newly changed category would not have been able to get another visa, as they would have also reverted to the normal practice followed by the INZ – applying for partnership visa and getting an exception instead in the form of “General Visitor Visa under relationship category” to join their partners in NZ.

That “GVV under relationship category” despite being an act of favour by the Immigration New Zealand affirms a systematic bias against the INDIAN MARRIAGES within immigration system as the policy does not consider Indian-couples who are not living together prior to their marriages as partners for the visa purpose.

Currently, all such partners of Indian-New Zealander’s (citizens and residents) who are locked out of NZ borders, which is closed - are not allowed to enter NZ and join their partners - while all other partners (different ethnicities and nationalities) of Kiwi citizens and residents are allowed to do so.

This is a case of systematic bias against Indian marriages for partnership visa purposes.