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The government has just announced a new visa to allow for New Zealand citizens and residents who enter into culturally arranged marriages to have their partners come to New Zealand, even when they have not lived together and have married overseas.

Here’s what INZ have said:

Background

Since 2003, NZ has had a “culturally arranged marriage visitor visa” for people intending to come to New Zealand to marry a New Zealand citizen or resident. As part of the requirements under this visa category, the ceremony had to take place in New Zealand but this did not cover those who wished to get married overseas.

Further, immigration instructions require applicants applying under partnership to provide sufficient evidence that they are in a genuine and stable relationship which includes living together. Therefore many applicants failed partnership visa applications due to arranged marriages where they had not lived together long enough before the New Zealand partner returned to New Zealand.

They have also not been considered eligible for a general visitor visa as immigration instructions require applicants on visitor visas to be a genuine visitor who only intends to stay temporarily.

What’s new?

The Minister of Immigration has made a change to the Culturally Arranged Marriage visitor visa category.

The change allows a visitor visa to be granted to individuals who are in an arranged marriage, regardless of where that marriage ceremony took place. That means individuals who had a culturally arranged marriage outside of New Zealand may now be eligible for the visa.

INZ has also issued new guidance to clarify that if an individual is travelling to New Zealand to join a partner after a culturally arranged marriage offshore, they may still be considered a genuine visitor visa applicant. This guidance will update the guidance that was issued on 10 May 2019.

Together, these changes may provide individuals in an arranged marriage who have not lived together, with an opportunity to come to New Zealand to live together so that they may later satisfy immigration partnership visa requirements.

Immigration instructions for partnership visas have not changed.

What about people who already applied and were declined this year?

Individuals in this situation whose visas have been declined a temporary visa between 10 May 2019 and 31 October 2019 to come to New Zealand to begin living with a New Zealand citizen or resident partner may have their application reconsidered. (This does not apply to partners of New Zealand work or student visas).

Where INZ is able to identify affected partners of New Zealand citizens and residents who were declined a temporary visa between 10 May 2019 and 31 October 2019, it will email these applicants by 2 December 2019 to invite them to complete a new application form. The fee for the new application will be waived. INZ will assess these new applications using the updated culturally arranged marriage instructions or the INZ’s new guidance on general visitor visas. The new application should include updated relationship evidence, evidence of funds, and any other updated relevant information.

What about individuals who don’t fall into the above group?

Individuals who do not receive an email from INZ and think they may have been affected can complete a new application. Individuals in this situation will be required to pay the usual application fee and will need to include a cover letter with the application, explaining why you fall into the above group. INZ will consider refunding the application fee on a case by case basis if it is determined that an individual should have been included in the above group.

How will this affect future applications?

Applications will be assessed on a case by case basis against immigration instructions.

Source: Immigration New Zealand Factsheet

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