Woman Claims Kiwi Marriage Stressed By Immigration

Woman claims Kiwi marriage stressed by immigration

By JOHN HENZELL – The Press | Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A Christchurch immigrant has blamed delays by immigration officers for the stress that soured her marriage and cost her the chance to settle here.

The 50-year-old Chinese woman claimed that if her marriage to a New Zealand man had been assessed promptly, it would have survived the stress of awaiting her residency.

But a High Court judge has rejected the claims made by the woman, known only as H, and blocked her bid to overturn the decision not to grant her residency.

The judge cited evidence suggesting the woman and her husband were barely able to communicate in each other's language and there was little sign of financial and social interdependence.

The court was told the woman was living in China when she met her future husband, from Christchurch, through an internet introduction website in mid 2001.

Within months, they were married in New Zealand.

She returned to China six weeks later and applied for a visa under the partnership policy, which was declined because Immigration New Zealand (INZ) was not satisfied the relationship was genuine or stable.

She was later granted a visitor's visa, with the marriage due to be reassessed six months after her return.

She arrived in Christchurch to live with her husband and their marriage was assessed after 13 months but a further six-month deferral of assessment was ordered.

By the time it was assessed again, the marriage was effectively over.

H challenged the decision of the Removal Review Authority, which refused to overturn Immigration New Zealand's decision to decline her residency.

Justice Randerson, sitting in the High Court in Auckland, said she claimed that if matters had been dealt with promptly, she would have shown the marriage was genuine and sustainable.

“Instead it was submitted the delays were so lengthy that there was eventually a breakdown in the relationship between (H) and her husband,” he said.

“By the time of the hearing before the authority, there was no evidence they were living together.

“Nor was there evidence that he supported her (residency) application.”

But the judge said the delay was not unreasonable and the decision to refuse H residency was justified.

He dismissed her appeal.