Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has confirmed that people who applied for visitor visas to be reunited with their partners have had their applications cancelled.

The government decided to cancel and refund up to 50,000 applications for visitor, student and work visas. But among those shelved temporary visas are many people waiting to join their New Zealand partners.

Some couples, especially those in arranged marriages, cannot meet the criteria to have lived together which would enable them to have instead applied for a partnership visa.

The move follows a series of changes to how INZ dealt with couples who had not lived together before marriage, and where the partner applied to live with their spouse in New Zealand.

A directive to stop waiving the 'living together' requirement led to a political storm in 2019.

Political outbursts during the Labour / NZ First coalition led to a compromise.

Some of those whose visas were mistakenly rejected during that period were having their cases reviewed as Covid-19 started to spread.

INZ has not been processing offshore visitor applications since the start of the pandemic unless applicants have been given a border exception.

An INZ spokesperson confirmed that people applying for visitor visas in those circumstances would have their applications lapsed and receive a refund.

"This does not disadvantage the applicants as their visa applications are currently unable to be approved due to the border closure, and they will be able to reapply with updated information once the border reopens."
Gill Bonnett, Immigration Reporter, RNZ
July 9, 2021

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