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New Zealand partner visa applications to be reconsidered by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) following Ombudsman investigation

November 25th, 2013


After receiving a number of complaints from New Zealand partner visa applicants, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been forced to re-evaluate hundreds of visa applications processed by its Mumbai and New Delhi offices.

The initial 14 complaints were received regarding whether or not these offices had properly considered applications from partners of current student and work visa holders residing in New Zealand. The main point of the complaints was that too much focus had been placed upon whether the applicants for New Zealand partner visas had sufficient incentive to return home. These complaints were subsequently reviewed by the Ombudsman and upheld, meaning that all 14 cases were to be reassessed, as well as hundreds of other similar applications.

After a large number of visa applications were re-evaluated, some truly surprising figures emerged. First of all, it was found that 60 New Zealand Visa applications considered by these two Indian offices were incorrectly declined. Subsequent investigation revealed that they were potentially 459 more visa applications where errors in their processing were made. These incorrect decisions and mistakes affected some applicants who had had more than one previous application refused, and at a cost of NZ$200 per application. Meanwhile, some other incorrectly processed visa applications were refused despite all of the requirements being met, including proof that the relationship was genuine, as well as the financial and educational requirements. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has stated that all affected visa applicants have now been contacted.

The initial 14 complaints which led to the Ombudsmen inquiry, and subsequent reassessment of New Zealand Visa applications, were primarily made by professional immigration advisers and the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) – New Zealand’s leading professional association for immigration specialists. NZAMI then carried out its own enquiries which found that the Indian INZ offices in question had been refusing visa applications at a far higher rate than any other. Walter Stone, the chairman of NZAMI, was quoted as saying that this showed a “lack of training and bias” in these two offices. In response to this unfortunate sequence of events, Immigration New Zealand has not only contacted the affected applicants and agreed to re-evaluate their applications, but also that none of the staff who dealt with the original processing would be involved. Michael Carley, an area manager for IMZ, issued an apology and said that dedicated specialists would be dealing with the applications as a matter of priority.

This whole debacle has reflected very poorly upon INZ. Not only were numerous cases incorrectly processed and refused, but this has led to an expensive bill for the New Zealand taxpayer with up to 500 cases being re-evaluated. On top of that, recent research has shown that allowing partners to join with international students in New Zealand adds approximately NZ$2.6 billion and 20,000 jobs to the national economy, so having some applications incorrectly declined effectively damages the economy.