Seven months ago, a young couple approached us from overseas after their hopes of living together in NZ were almost crushed. Immigration NZ’s assumptions and failure to keep an open mind when assessing the partnership application resulted in them making a lot of sacrifices that affected them financially and emotionally since 2017.
The background was complex, but we will provide you with a brief overview.
Like many migrants, our client came to New Zealand to pursue his studies and apply for subsequent work visas that will ultimately provide him with a pathway to Residence. Unfortunately, he and his ex-partner at the time could not secure employment related to their qualifications. His ex-partner applied for further studies, and our client secured a partnership work visa through her. A year later, that relationship ceased.
During this time, our client had already been friends with his current wife, a NZ citizen whom he met through his employment. They shared similar interests in travel and their love for dogs. Both had failed relationships, so their bond with each other grew quickly. He moved into a room in her flat, and they started dating not long after that. He applied for an Essential Skills Work Visa based on his job because he could not remain on his previous partnership visa, and wanted to get a visa in his own right.
Two months later, that application was declined. Immigration NZ accused the couple of not being in a genuine and credible relationship. This was simply because the relationship appeared to have moved so quickly – the partnership application was seen just as an attempt to remain in New Zealand.
Our client and his current wife were devastated at the time, as they just moved to their own place and decided to make a fresh start and build a future together. He proposed to her a week after his visa was declined. It was something he had been planning to do for some time, as they had already known each other for years. They were ready to commit to one another, as they are not the type of people that like to “date around”. They valued loyalty and commitment.
Sure, this kind of scenario could raise an alarm with Immigration NZ about the genuineness of the relationship. However, Immigration NZ must apply the principles of fairness and natural justice when deciding an application. They are required to keep an open mind towards all relevant information and evidence, and distinguish fact from opinion or assumption.
Immigration NZ had failed to consider many factors when they were assessing this young couple’s partnership application. For example, the cultural background of our client and his NZ partner, their previous relationship history and the evidence provided with the application. Our client comes from a society that respects commitment and dedication. Hence, moving quickly in a relationship is something normal, especially when the couple already knows each other and have mutual interests. They do not like to move around from one partner to another or take years until they decide to marry.
They applied for reconsideration of the declined work visa application, and it was also declined. Our client was left with no option but to leave New Zealand. It was a devastating moment for the NZ partner trying to sort out her affairs such as where they were going to put their pets, what she would do to relocate etc. Eventually, she left NZ to live with our client offshore for 3 months.
During this visit they got married, and the New Zealand partner met his extended family and explored his country. After almost a year and a half into their relationship, they applied for another partnership visa. Immigration NZ interviewed the couple, and no concerns were raised from the interview. Despite the time they had spent together and their successful interview, Immigration NZ declined their partnership application again because of how soon they entered into their relationship in the first place. It was still not satisfied that the couple entered into the relationship with the intention to last. It is unfortunate to see that such a subjective assumption overrode the fact that they were in a loving and committed relationship. Their marriage was publicly acknowledged and supported by family and friends, and they had sufficient evidence of living together.
Success At Last
The NZ partner decided to live offshore again with her husband. It meant she had to leave her job, sell her car, leave her pets with family and friends. At this point, we assisted the couple with their last partnership visa application. After living together for nine months, a partnership application was submitted in May 2020 and finally approved in October 2020.
The approval was a relief to the couple after a long journey and a battle to convince Immigration NZ that their relationship was genuine, credible, and it was not out of convenience. However, until they reached this point, the NZ partner had no income for a year, accumulated debts and lost one of their pets in New Zealand. Notwithstanding the emotional stress she went through as a Kiwi living away from her home country, her family and adjusting to a completely different society. This was all because of Immigration NZ’s improper assumptions and for failing to look into the full picture of the couple’s relationship.
Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is that Immigration NZ can make mistakes and decline a partnership application more than once. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t give up, and it is never too late to seek professional help in representing your case to Immigration NZ.
Partnership cases could seem straight forward; however, they are not simple. Not all relationships are the classic scenarios that exist in the western world or portrayed in the movies. People’s circumstances are different, and our client is a perfect example of this. A successful partnership case needs to be as clear cut as possible. Critically, by working alongside you, we can tell your story in a way that is compelling and persuasive to avoid lengthy battles with Immigration NZ.