Living together trumps over being married

 In immigration, opinion

Spouses of New Zealanders stopped from coming in to New Zealand

Indianz X-Press, 1 Dec 2017

My recent fascination is with one’s perspective. And the revelation I have had is one’s world view is the dictator of one’s action. That thought, wherever it originates from, becomes the dictator of one’s worldview and therefore one’s actions.

On the face of it, this may appear to be irrelevant to the field of immigration, but it is relevant. Our immigration policy, now called immigration instructions, is an exercise of Ministerial directive through delegation. The use of a discretionary power all steam from a particular viewpoint of the world which is imbedded in the Western framework. It is important to focus on the viewpoint, the lens through which the world is seen, the view of acceptability, of reasonableness and appropriateness, as dictated by such a viewpoint.

The current immigration instructions on how to deem whether a person can be eligible for a sponsored partnership application is an illustration of this.

It is divorced from the original concept of how the union between a man and women were previously formalised, which was marriage. Marriage was the starting point and everything stemmed from that. In the modern western era, the pendulum has swung. Some cultures cannot live together before marriage as it is considered sinful, a concept not too alien to the western framework in the not too distant past.

These cultures are now not only disadvantaged but are discriminated against as the evidentiary burden of such a partnership application requires proof of living together and they need to provide it to INZ for the visa to be granted.

These cannot provide such living together evidence. Now living together trumps over being married. Absurd for those cultures where this is not the norm.

Some partners of New Zealand citizens who seek offshore partners are held to ransom with the need to fulfil this requirement. In some instances, INZ decision making process is absurd and beyond reasonable belief, given the context of such an application requesting living together evidence. The visa application fails when these cultures do not fi t this neat box where living together evidence can be provided. So, it comes down to that viewpoint. As New Zealand becomes increasingly multicultural the underlying assumptions of government policies and viewpoint will have to be critically thought through to ensure a fair and just process is designed to cater to the diverse needs of its society and their way of life.

The New Year may show a more humanitarian approach to such cases.

(Kamil R. Lakshman is a Lawyer and a social activist. Views expressed are personal).

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