Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that visitor visa applications from offshore applicants looking to reunite with their onshore partners have been cancelled.
The New Zealand government decided to reject up to 50,000 temporary visa applications to the country, including thousands of applications from people who applied for a visitor visa to reunite with their partners in New Zealand.
Following the cancellation of the applications, the New Zealand government has said that rejected applications will be refunded.
Among the applicants who had their applications cancelled are couples in an arranged marriage who do not meet the criteria of living together in New Zealand.
Not having this requirement prevents them from applying for a partner visa for New Zealand immigration.
This is not the first instance of New Zealand cancelling visitor visas for partners; in November 2019, offshore applicants were given the requirement to have lived with their partner previously for at least 12 months to qualify for a partner visa to New Zealand.
As a result of that change, many New Zealand residents having an arranged marriage – particularly from the Indian subcontinent – were essentially deprived of the chance to have their spouses join them and live together in the country.
This ‘living together’ requirement resulted in political outbursts and a political storm back in 2019, which ultimately led to a compromise on the requirements of New Zealand’s partner visas.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Immigration New Zealand has not processed visitor visa applications from offshore applicants, unless applicants were given a border exception.
This led to an anomaly in the immigration rules for New Zealand immigrants, as partners from traditional marriages who had not lived together were denied entry to New Zealand, but onshore live-in partners could travel to the country.
Moreover, partner applicants were being asked by Immigration New Zealand to provide evidential proof of their marriage, such as tenancy agreements or joint utility bills.
Many applicants could not provide these documents – seeing as they had not lived together previously – and had their visa applications rejected, despite Immigration New Zealand acknowledging that their marriages were genuine and stable.
A spokesperson for Immigration New Zealand confirmed that visitor visa applications from offshore partners would not be approved due to border closures, but that applicants would receive a refund and be able to reapply with updated information once borders are reopened.