19 Apr 2018

Woman's Indian husband has visa declined four times: 'We've tried everything'

6:54 am on 19 April 2018

A New Zealand woman may never get to live with her Indian husband, after his visa to New Zealand was declined four times.

Passport stamp visa for travel concept background, New Zealand.

Passport stamp visa for travel concept background, New Zealand. Photo: 123RF

Indian man Inamul Haque met his wife Sofia Ali Malik, a New Zealand citizen, in September 2015 on Facebook.

Ms Malik said they began talking about their family connections to India, fell in love, and Mr Haque decided to come to New Zealand.

He applied for a culturally arranged marriage visitors visa, which allows someone to marry a New Zealand citizen within three months of arrival, then apply for a 12 month work visa after living together.

Immigration New Zealand's director of operations for visa services Peter Elms said there were about 200 applications each year, and only a third got through.

"We are quite cautious about assessing those applications, and the staff that do assess those applications are very familiar with the cultural arrangements in place, so that they're able to satisfy themselves that it is a genuine relationship, or a genuine culturally arranged relationship," he said.

In Mr Haque and Ms Malik's case, officials didn't believe the marriage was genuine because the pair hadn't lived together.

Immigration lawyer David Ryken said culturally arranged marriage visitor visas were normally given for marriages between families - rather than individuals arranging their own and making their own choice.

Mr Haque tried to get a visa again four months later and was declined.

The couple married anyway in 2016 in Fiji but Ms Malik returned to Auckland to her office job, and had a miscarriage.

A third application - this time for a partnership visa - was rejected.

Lawyer David Ryken said that decision was understandable.

"What do you expect to get out of trying to convince Immigration New Zealand that you're in a genuine and stable relationship after only living together for two weeks?" he said.

After another trip to Fiji to be with her husband, and another miscarriage, Sofia Malik is back in Auckland and struggling to get enough work and Inamul Haque has failed to get even a visitors visa.

Ms Malik said she was suffering from "extreme stress and anxiety".

"I don't have any confidence. They will decline again I know because we've tried everything, visitor's visa, marriages and everything, even a lawyer. They know, they're the professional."

Mr Haque was now in Delhi, and Immigration New Zealand said after four rejections it was unlikely he will be granted a visa.

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