Dharmender is in New Zealand on a temporary visa and happily married with a child. He had applied for a Student Visa in July 2020. Since he was the primary applicant his partner and his child’s visas were dependent on the outcome of his visa application.
Initially, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) during the assessment of his application identified issues around his short attendance and academic progress. It is important to understand that when there is a concern around academic progression from INZ it essentially means that INZ considers the applicants study progress as unsatisfactory. This may be due to not clearing few papers etc. Additional documentary evidence related to funds was also requested. Although Dharmender had his reasons to justify INZ concerns and the same were forwarded to INZ hoping that it was a routine matter but it was not.
INZ came back to him requesting more information in September 2020. This time the letter accentuated multiple concerns around numerous transactions in his bank statements. Updated bank statements and IRD summary (New Zealand Tax Returns) were also requested.
All the concerns were addressed by our subsequent response as part of the advocacy. The response included detailed evidence of each identified and questioned transaction supported by our explanation of the same. We reckoned that this time all the doubts of INZ would be cleared. However, it was not to be.
In November 2020, another letter was received from INZ. This time there were different concerns over evidence of funds. Not to be deterred, the applicant provided additional evidence and we prepared our response. By now, the detailed evidence of all the accounts, all the sources of deposits, he held in New Zealand and his native country was provided to INZ. All the large deposits in these accounts were explained with supporting evidence. After this response, we thought that INZ would surely decide the application, even if they were thinking of declining it. INZ surprised us once again.
We received another communication in December 2020. The new concern was around the trail of funds from his father’s account to his NZ account. We had explained it earlier, however, we presented our response in a more detailed and precise manner within the period granted. At this juncture, the summer vacation was approaching, and the matter moved to January 2021. To make the matter more alarming, the applicant, his wife, and his child’s interim visas were expiring in January 2021.
Still, no decision from INZ.
In the interim period, we had also requested for the applicant’s client file records under the Official Information Act (OIA) from INZ. On its scrutiny, it was found that there was a complaint against the applicant recorded by INZ in their system. The complaint duly investigated, could not be substantiated as there was no adverse remark against our client.
One week from the expiry date, we requested INZ to decide the applications and provided our reasons for the same. The logic given was that we could have filed a reconsideration request as long as they were lawfully in New Zealand. Unfortunately, there was no decision given and even the interim visas ultimately expired. It was highly intriguing for us that for six months, a student visa was not decided.
With no other alternative left, we filed a Section 61 Request for the primary applicant and his dependents.
It took over 6 months of our relentless efforts, our communications to INZ containing over 5,000 words apart from analysis of voluminous documents, demonstration of a high level of competency and legal advocacy before, the family’s visa applications were decided and visas granted.
The Moral of the story – Even if we are bona fide in our conduct and our intentions are good, the outcome may still depend on a trustworthy License Immigration Adviser who understands the clients’ version and is ready to fight for the client till the last.