Partnership applications have been the subject of much attention recently, when INZ tightened up their approach to visas for people who have little or no evidence of living together with their New Zealand partner.
In the past, officers often granted General Visitor Visas (GVV) at their discretion, for the purpose of a family visit, if a couple appeared to be genuine and credible but had not been living together. This practice was curbed in May this year, when officers were reminded that a GVV is not an automatic right if the couple have not lived together. Officers were instructed to pay closer attention to the other criteria for a GVV such as the applicant’s ability to return to their home country should the relationship resolve. These criteria are called “bona fides”.
Thousands of applicants this year were affected by a massive slow-down, whilst officers took more time to assess bona fides. A large percentage of these were culturally arranged marriages. Some waited up to 12 months for a decision, and ultimately most were declined.
Eventually, on the 19th November, an new internal circular was issued to Immigration staff, clarifying how these applications should be treated: If a couple appear to be genuine and credible but do not meet the living together requirements, immigration officers may still consider granting a general visitor visa for the purpose of a family visit, but bona fides will continue to be assessed. Those who are in a culturally arranged marriage, or intend to be, may apply for a culturally arranged marriage visa.
If you intend to travel to New Zealand for the purpose of entering a culturally arranged marriage, or if you are already in a culturally arranged marriage which took place outside of New Zealand, you will be assessed under immigration instructions specific to that situation.
Applicants who do not meet the culturally arranged marriage criteria will continue to be assessed against general visitor visa instructions. This means they must demonstrate that they are a ‘bona fide’ visitor, ie, unlikely to:
- remain in New Zealand unlawfully,
- breach any visa conditions, or
- be unable to leave or be deported from New Zealand
Applicants will also need to show that they genuinely intend a temporary stay in New Zealand.
If you have not lived with your partner and you wish to be considered for a general visitor visa for the purpose of a family visit, or if you are in, or intending to be in a culturally arranged marriage, you should seek professional assistance in preparing your visa application.
Book an appointment with one of our Licensed Immigration Advisers to discuss your particular situation.