26 Feb 2021

Visa for Green MP's partner 'like any other', Immigration NZ says

5:43 pm on 26 February 2021

Immigration New Zealand is standing by its decision to grant a visa to the partner of Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March and says the application was treated "like any other".

Ricardo Menendez March of Auckland Action Against Poverty

Ricardo Menéndez March Photo: Supplied

Immigration NZ head Greg Patchell yesterday said he would look into the case after National MPs queried, during a Parliamentary select committee meeting, whether there had been any special treatment.

In a statement to RNZ, a department spokesperson said Patchell was not across all the case details at the time, but had since reviewed the file.

"[He] can confirm that the application was processed in the normal manner via an authorised decision maker and was approved as it met immigration instructions", the statement said.

"No escalations or interventions occurred as the application was treated like any other for that category. "

Menéndez March's partner - who was living in Mexico - was invited to apply for a visa on 3 December last year. He was granted a six-month visitor visa on 11 January and arrived in New Zealand, with Menéndez March, in February.

According to Immigration NZ's website, an applicant for this visa category must provide proof that they are in a "genuine and stable relationship" with a New Zealand citizen or resident.

The evidence can include details of previous shared living arrangements, travel movements, and other documents "showing a commitment to a shared life".

During Thursday's select committee hearing, Patchell appeared to confirm that an applicant would have to be living with their partner to be eligible.

"If a couple were domiciled in two houses, in two countries, and they simply stayed with each other on holiday every now and again, would that not then meet the 'living together' instruction?" National Party MP Erica Stanford asked.

Patchell said he was not familiar with the specific requirements, but went on: "In the situation you've described ... it probably wouldn't meet the criteria."

Asked to clarify the visa's preconditions, Immigration NZ told RNZ the applicant would have had to meet the "living together requirements as outlined in the relevant immigration instructions".

"The relevant instructions of this category were met," a spokesperson said.

Speaking to RNZ on Thursday, Menéndez March confirmed the couple had presented "a really comprehensive package" to Immigration NZ late last year.

"We lived together for several months [in Mexico before the pandemic] and obviously enough for Immigration New Zealand to be satisfied," he said.

"Obviously, our goal would've been... to cohabit throughout 2020, but the pandemic has just meant that that wasn't the case."

Menéndez March said he was confident both his partner and immigration officials had followed "due process".

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