(Image source from: economictimes.indiatimes.com)
IT system engineer, Raman Singh found out a solution to fix a problem where his wife couldn’t visit him in New Zealand as they tied a knot in India in January.
Singh is NZ citizen as he had migrated with his parents as a child. As he loved Indian culture, heritage and wanted to stay connected to the same, he had planned for and Indian wedding.“I love my Indian heritage and wanted to stay connected to it. So, I agreed with my parents on having a culturally arranged marriage, “ he told Times Of India (TOI).
An estimate based on hearsay suggests that 1,200 applications for visitor visa that were filed by spouses have been rejected from when the introduction stricter interpretation norms were made.
The authorities in the immigration have made changes in the visa guidelines last month by as a response to an outcry from the Indians in New Zealand.
The General Manager Enablement at Immigration New Zealand said that, the instruction in the New Zealand Immigration previously allowed visitor visa to an individual for arranged marriage with a residence class holder or a citizen but a visitor visa was not granted to individuals who have entered into arranged marriage overseas. Later on, he added saying that the NZ government made changes in the instruction and is allowing individuals to be granted visitor visa regardless of where the arranged marriage took place.
“INZ immigration instructions previously allowed granting of a visitor visa to an individual to enter NZ for an arranged marriage with a citizen or a residence class visa holder. However, a visitor visa was not granted to those who had entered into an arranged marriage overseas,” General Manager Enablement, at Immigration New Zealand,Stephen Dunstan,told TOI.
“In November, the NZ government made a small change to the arranged marriage instructions to better reflect the intention of the policy. It now allows a visitor visa to be granted to individuals who have entered into an arranged marriage, regardless of where that marriage took place,” he adds.
Alastair McClymont told TOI that the guidelines that are being amended enable the applicants to gain a visitor visa for three months who had a traditional cultural marriage outside the country so that, they can be with their partners which means that, no proof of the couple being together is needed for the approval of visa but the genuinity can now be about the traditional elements in the marriage.
“The amended guidelines enable applicants who had a traditional cultural marriage outside the country, to gain a three-month visitor’s visa to NZ to be with their partners. This means, the couple do not have to prove that they have been living together before qualifying for the visa. So, the test of what a genuine partnership is, can now be about the traditional cultural elements of the marriage, rather than the duration of living together,” founder of the immigration law firm McClymont & Associates, Alastair McClymont told Times Of India.
Dustan explains that the new guidelines will allow individuals who have not lived together as an arranged marriage, an opportunity to live together in New Zealand and to later on satisfy the partnership visa requirements.
The NZ immigration authorities advised Singh to get a general visitor visa for his wife prior to the introduction to the stricter interpretation was made in May. Unfortunately her application for visa was denied as she was not a bonafide visitor visa applicant.
Considering the new guidelines, under the Culturally Arranged Marriage visitor visa, the spouse would be eligible to visit NZ if a visitor visa is applied within three months of the arranged marriage and a general visitor visa may be granted to the spouse if the three months time has lapsed.
McClymont said that the immigration officials expect proof of the couple’s parents discussing the plans about the marriage as evidence failing to which leads to rejection.
“Immigration officials expect couples to provide independent and verifiable evidence of their parents meeting to discuss the marriage plans. Officials have traditionally rejected support letters from family members as having very little evidential value,” he says.
“It’s too early to tell whether or not the amendments to policy will help. If the immigration officials wish to take a pragmatic and common sense approach to the applicants, only then will the guideline changes potentially help,” sums up McClymont.
Till date, 800 individuals whose visa was declined have been sent emails inviting to submit a new visitor visa application and their fees have been waived.
By Shrithika Kushangi