22 Jul 2021

Legal challenge mounted over couple separation due to Covid-19

10:38 am on 22 July 2021

An Auckland law firm is seeking a judicial review of two major decisions made by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.

Visa and passport to  approved stamped on a document top view in Immigration

File photo. Photo: 123RF

D&S Law filed high court proceedings on Wednesday on behalf of University of Auckland professor Michael Witbrock, whose husband is stuck in China.

The first decision relates to the processing suspension for temporary offshore visa applications until February next year.

The second is Faafoi's instruction to Immigration New Zealand to lapse or refund about 50,000 temporary offshore visa applications.

D&S Law partner Stewart Dalley argues the decisions are a breach of human rights.

"The minister has failed to properly consider the international obligations that are placed on him in respect of families and the rights of children," he said.

"So the rights of children come in with like, Dad's stuck overseas and Mum's here with the children."

"Then the children have the right to see their father and live with their father, but immigration rules is preventing them from being together. "

Dalley said it also related to the right to found a family, and for partners to live together.

Additionally, Dalley said the decisions made resulted in discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.

"Immigration policy is that to get a partnership-based visa you must be living together,"

"So if you have a partnership-based visa then you are able to come into New Zealand even though we have the border restrictions,"

"But people of certain ethnic origins or LGBT people, they may not be able to actually live together in another country because of cultural reasons or they would be discriminated and harrassed for who they are."

It meant they did not meet the criteria for a partnership-based visa application.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the matter was now before the courts and he could say nothing further at this point.

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