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28 January 2014
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is to reassess hundreds of Family Stream visa applications after an investigation into the criteria used by staff to make their decisions.
Doubts about the correctness of the decisions first began to arise in 2013 after 14 people whose applications for visas had been rejected complained to the New Zealand Immigration Ombudsman. The 14 decisions were all made by staff at INZ offices in Mumbai and New Delhi.
The Immigration Ombudsman then contacted INZ on behalf of the fourteen complainants. After an investigation, INZ accepted that the decisions to refuse the visas were taken on incorrect criteria.
The applications were for Partnership-based Temporary Visas granted under the family stream. Where a foreign national has a visa allowing them to reside in New Zealand, such as a student visa for example, their partner may apply for a temporary visa to accompany them. Some partners are allowed to work while in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Herald reports that one applicant for a partnership-based visa, Naresh Kumar, applied to join his wife Manisha Bhatia in Hamilton where she was studying a graduate diploma in sport and exercise science. Mr Kumar was refused a visa on the basis that his relationship was not genuine.
INZ has written to Ms Bhatia telling her she is eligible for reassessment but saying that her case will not be reopened because she has made a fresh application for a partnership visa.
Ms Bhatia and Mr Kumar say that they will now attempt to reclaim the fees for the first two applications which were wasted.
'Extra staff training has taken place in India following this case. We place huge importance on our customer service and we are confident that these changes will result in a big improvement'.
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