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Changes to immigration policy

The Government has amended an issue affecting how Immigration New Zealand has processed visa applications for culturally arranged marriages, which will now see a consistent process applied which ensures people with legitimate arranged marriages can visit New Zealand while also preventing any rorting of the system.

Earlier this year Immigration New Zealand issued guidance to front line Immigration staff that made it significantly harder for people to get visas to visit their partner. That guidance no longer applies with the recent announcement.

The new process clarifies:
·        Those who have a culturally arranged marriage to a New Zealand resident or citizen can apply for a culturally arranged visitor’s visa.
·        The visitor’s visa will have strict assessment criteria attached to it to ensure only legitimate arranged marriages are approved and to stop so called mail order brides and other potential rorts
·        Once the partner has been living in New Zealand with their spouse they can begin the process to apply for a partnership visa while proving the legitimate nature of their nuptials.

“There were issues with the process Immigration New Zealand used to issue visas for culturally arranged marriages. It was inconsistently applied,” Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says.

“The Government is now ensuring that people in a culturally arranged marriage can visit their spouses here subject to usual risk management processes.

“I will make a small change to instructions to allow Immigration New Zealand to provide culturally arranged marriage visitor visas to partners of New Zealand residents and citizens as the policy originally intended. This removes the need for work arounds, and maintains the ability to appropriately accommodate the cultural dimension around arranged marriages and have robust clear processes.

“Once they are here, the visitor period will help demonstrate the genuine and stable nature of their relationship in order to get a partnership visa.

“The new culturally arranged marriage process also ensures better risk management. An immigration officer must be satisfied that the marriage ceremony genuinely occurred and followed an identified cultural tradition and there is a genuine intent to live together.

“Immigration New Zealand officials will also need to check the marriage followed an identified cultural tradition, including the facilitation of the selection of the persons to be married being done by people who are not parties to the marriage. This is to stop so called mail order brides or other attempts to rort the system.” Iain says.

But National’s Immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith disagrees.

The Government is all over the place on immigration and its policy is incoherent says Stuart.

“The Government just can’t make up its mind. It campaigned on being tougher on immigration.

"Since then, it’s chopped and changed between toughening up and liberalising.

“The reality is that partnership visas for arranged marriages have been a normal part of immigration policy for a long time and it was politically naïve to get rid of them.

“There’s no doubt that NZ First was driving this and the Government’s decision to reverse the policy highlights deep divisions around the Cabinet table.

“You can’t trust this Government on immigration.”

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