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Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitor Visa Approved despite NZ Border Closure

Name : Swati

Nationality : India

Problem : Demonstrating that the marriage follows an identified cultural tradition

Category : Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitor Visa for marrying in New Zealand

Swati and her fiancé Harish, who is a New Zealand citizen, got engaged in February 2020 and had plans to get married in India in May 2020. The pandemic, however, changed everything and they had to postpone their wedding plans. They thought the situation would improve in a few months, but they could not see any light at the end of the tunnel and felt dejected because of the circumstances.

One day, Harish came across a video of our Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser Vandana Rai on Facebook where she talked about the Culturally Arranged Marriage Visa category. He was intrigued by the information provided in the video & felt it was meant just for him. Harish did his research on Vandana and after reading numerous positive reviews on Google and social media immediately booked an appointment with her.

Vandana Rai had a detailed discussion with Harish and Swati to assess if they met the strict requirements for a visa under this category. Given the risk associated with travelling overseas during the pandemic, Harish and his family based in New Zealand were keen to have the wedding ceremony in New Zealand.

The main requirement under this category is to be able to demonstrate that the marriage follows an identified and recognised cultural tradition where the arrangements for the marriage, including facilitation of the initial selection of the persons to be married, were made by persons who are not parties to the marriage. The applicant also needs to demonstrate that the marriage will be maintained on a long-term and exclusive basis and that couple genuinely intends to marry within three months of the applicant’s arrival in New Zealand.

This requirement is not always easy to substantiate with documentary evidence since, in most cultures, the initial interaction or meeting is done face to face or the family members may not have kept or maintained evidence of the initial communication. If the applicant is not able to demonstrate to the immigration officer’s satisfaction that the marriage followed an identified and recognised cultural tradition, then the application may be declined.

These applications require in-depth knowledge and correct interpretation of the New Zealand immigration instructions to be able to get a favourable outcome and this is where the extensive experience of Vandana and her team came in aid of Swati and Harish. Vandana’s meticulous approach and knowledge enabled the couple to gather the required evidence. This included evidence to show the marriage was culturally arranged and that it would take place within three months of the applicant’s arrival in New Zealand. The application was lodged on 01 August 2021.

The time and efforts put into the gathering of documents and evidence in support of the application along with the detailed explanation provided, enabled Swati to get her visitor visa approved on 26 September 2021. Since all the evidence and information was provided upfront, the immigration officer was able to make a decision based on the available information without having to seek further information or clarification. Since this is a relationship-based visa, Swati can travel to New Zealand despite the current border closure.

The couple was delighted to receive the visa. Swati has secured a place in the MIQ and will reach New Zealand in the last week of November. The wedding ceremony is slated to take place in the first week of December. We are delighted to have been able to help the couple and wish them the very best for their future.

(The names of clients have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute immigration advice. Individuals need to seek personal advice from a licensed immigration adviser or lawyer to assess their unique situation.

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