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Thread: very confused - and now really stressed! (Partner sponsored work visa)

  1. #1
    expatkiwi is offline Junior Member
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    Default very confused - and now really stressed! (Partner sponsored work visa)

    Hi everyone,

    I'm a kiwi living in Singapore. My partner is Singaporean, and he is planning to come back to NZ with me in July. We've been living together since December 2008. I submitted his application yesterday and am really stressed (and upset) at what happened at immigration. I could really do with some advice...

    De facto relationships are not recognised here. My company provides my apartment, so it is therefore my name on the bills. My partner explained this, and submitted the following as proof of relationship:

    - bills in my name, plus his citizen card ID (both with same address)
    - letter with post marked stamp to him at this address in December 2008
    - passport stamps of holidays we've taken together
    - flights booked and paid for together (incl to NZ, which was booked in Sept 2009)
    - receipt for our wedding rings, signed by us both
    - joint savings account statements dating about 5 months (NB: this was also not easy as we aren't married)
    - reference letter from a friend of ours who knows us, and is also a kiwi. She included her passport details.
    - photos of us

    I took the application in yesterday and gave it to the woman at the desk. She read through it immediately, and started asking me questions about it. She wanted to know where we met. I didn't understand what she was talking about, and said we'd met in Singapore. She wanted to know the exact place. I said we'd met in a cafe. She asked how that was possible. I told her we went there with friends and had seen each other there before, and started talking. She wanted to know who had formally introduced us. I said we weren't formally introduced, and had just started talking, as often happens in these types of situations... She was not buying that, and said: Are you saying you began talking to this man and no one introduced you? You swapped phone numbers and then began dating within a month? I said, yes, that's correct. She still was not convinced and used the word "suspicious". I was actually really shocked by her attitude.

    She asked a few other questions about his family and mine (mostly about parents "approval" of us being together), and then made reference to our jobs and finances which I was even more taken aback by. She said, since he's a chef and you're a professional, what can he or does he contribute financially, and how does this compare with actual salaries earned and spent? I said I was not prepared to discuss our salaries or finances this in these circumstances (I was standing in the small reception area and everyone could hear us as we shouted through the glass panel). I said I would be willing to go over this with the case officer, and could she tell me when we'd know who that was. She replied that she is the case officer...

    I had no idea I was being interviewed, or that the application was going to be processed in Singapore. I asked why during my email communication with the office was I not told to include this in the application. She said it is easier to do in person. I ended up telling her all our finances, including who pays for what. She was clearly still not convinced I was telling the truth. I asked her if there was anything else I could bring in to verify or help the application, as they also wouldn't tell me any of this via email. She said the paperwork was "ok, but very minimal" and she would need to verify the details. She gave me a receipt and said I shouldn't expect it to be very quick. It wasn't until later that I realised I don't know her name.

    Is she the person that will decide if the application is approved? If she rejects it, does she have to provide a reason? (Is my not being immediately forth coming with information and not being able to really convince her of how we came to speak to each other reason enough to suspect us of not being genuine?) I'm really worried I've blown it in one fell swoop.

  2. #2
    MotherBear's Avatar
    MotherBear is offline The missing link
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    Welcome Expatkiwi,

    My goodness, I didn't realise that Singapore was so strict regarding male/female behaviour - something we tend to find more in wholly Muslim countries. I don't know, but can't help wondering, if your case officer is very traditional in her beliefs and finds your living together goes against her principles. Therefore, she may be giving you a hard time, hence the grilling she gave you. What you have provided by way of information is what INZ requires whether or not your case officer's principles agree with it. It appears that, if she had her way, no one from Singapore would be able to apply under Partnership because she feels they aren't/shouldn't be allowed to live together for the required time unless, presumably, they are married.

    I was looking through the FAQs for Singapore INZ branch and came across this....

    Can I apply through your office?

    Applications must be directed to the correct receiving office. Singapore office is the receiving office for the following nationalities for all types of visa application:

    * Singapore
    * Malaysia
    * Brunei
    * Seychelles
    * Afghanistan
    * Maldives.

    If you are in Singapore, Malaysia or Brunei as a permanent resident, or holding long term passes for student, work / employment or social visit pass, you must present evidence of your long term immigration status in these countries to lodge your application in Singapore.
    Please note if you choose to lodge your application in Singapore and are not one of the nationalities above, this office has the right to refer or forward your application to the correct receiving office.
    Similarly, if you are a national of one of the countries listed above and choose to lodge your application through another office or in New Zealand, that office may forward your application back to us for processing.


    The emboldened sentence almost implies that your application could be forwarded to another country for processing as you aren't a Singaporean or one of the other nationalities mentioned. I wonder if this is an option so you can by-pass the Singaporean lady if you feel uncomfortable with her. The final sentence also sounds like you could submit your application through an INZ branch outside Singapore unless you are one of the nationalities listed who run the risk of having their application returned to Singapore branch.

    Singapore branch
    Mother Bear

    Try to bloom wherever you are planted.

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    expatkiwi is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for your speedy response, Mother Bear. I'm glad the documents are sufficient, but am really worried about the rest of the process now. (I'd imagined I'd be able to just hand in the application and head home, and if they wanted to know anything, they'd call us in for interviews. I just wasn't prepared for a barrage of public questioning.)

    I think your impression is correct. Singapore is indeed very conservative. (My boss does not know we live together either). The cultural and religious differences between my partner and I are often something that people here find too difficult to understand (there is very little inter-cultural marriage between Singaporeans on the whole). While I obviously can't say this was this issue, I highly suspect it was part of it. If the point of our application is prove there is a genuine relationship then my concern is that, in the eyes of this person, it is quite possibly *very* difficult to believe that we could have the relationship that we claim to. I think this is where she was going with the questions about his family being aware of the relationship and the situation, and whether they approve of it or not...

    I don't know if I'm being out of line on this, but this person's cultural and social values are clearly not the same as mine (or apparently, the New Zealand Immigration department). It seems to me to be a huge conflict of interest to have applications like this be processed by staff who simply do not have the same cultural understanding... Can she reject the permit just because it seems implausible to her, or does she need real reasons based on the application? If she does reject it, can we appeal? Would this affect future PR applications?

    I don't know whether I should wait until we hear back from the office and take it from there, or try and do something about this now.
    Last edited by expatkiwi; 27-04-2010 at 05:56 PM.

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    Jof's Avatar
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    Wow, you did get given a hard time.

    There is a right to appeal if your application is rejected, but I wouldn't worry about that yet. It sounds like whatever she thought of your relationship, she eventually reluctantly accepted that your evidence was ok. They would take it away to confirm in every case I suspect.

    What you produced to prove your relationship sounds very similar to what my partner and I produced. Also the standard of proof should be defined by INZ not by the branch office.

    We had difficulty with photos because we don't take very many and when we do we usually photo each other anyway! We had similar problems with bills. Because the house was owned by my partner and she'd lived in it first, all the bills were in her name. I paid money into a joint account every month that was used to pay the bills, but never got my name on anything else. I ended up doing the same as you and producing other evidence to confirm the shared address.

    Jof

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    expatkiwi is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks, Jof.

    Actually, the immigration woman called me today to ask me a couple of questions. She told me she would *try* and have things ready for when we leave (in July!) but it was complicated as she was really busy.

    I asked her again if the application was going to be processed here and she said it is, and confirmed that she is the one making the final decision. (She got really angry when I asked if she was a New Zealander, or if she had ever lived in New Zealand...)

    I'm blown away that NZI are hiring people to make these decisions, and that these staff are doing this based on their own culture and values. Anyway, I'm now at the point that I want to complain to someone about it - I really do not think she is the right person to be processing my partner's application, (and quite possibly no one's de-facto partner application!)

    Edit: Meant to also say - the immigration officer called to ask me for a copy of my divorce certificate (I have children, so she assumed I'd been married). I asked why she wanted that, and she said it's to show that my current relationship is genuine... I don't get this logic at all. Surely all that my divorce certificate shows is that I am no longer married to my ex-husband? This whole thing is really stressing me out...
    Last edited by expatkiwi; 05-05-2010 at 12:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by expatkiwi View Post
    Edit: Meant to also say - the immigration officer called to ask me for a copy of my divorce certificate (I have children, so she assumed I'd been married). I asked why she wanted that, and she said it's to show that my current relationship is genuine... I don't get this logic at all. Surely all that my divorce certificate shows is that I am no longer married to my ex-husband? This whole thing is really stressing me out...
    Perhaps she asked for this to prove you are properly divorced and not just having an extra-marital relationship?
    Mother Bear

    Try to bloom wherever you are planted.

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    expatkiwi is offline Junior Member
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    Yeah, I guess you're right (yesterday, I just couldn't get my head past her assumption that there was a marriage to begin with...) I'm concerned that the onus is now on me to explain the timeframes of divorce and separation agreements in New Zealand, this works very differently in Singapore.

    To be honest, the irony of the situation is really getting me down. We had assumed we'd need to explain to a New Zealand office how things work in Singapore, and my partner had written all the details up about this in his application. Instead, I am now struggling to explain to the case officer how things have happened (or weren't a big deal - like family 'blessings' or being formally introduced to someone before swapping phone numbers etc) because I am a New Zealander...

    The whole process has been quite a shock. I never thought moving home would be this complicated!

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    MotherBear's Avatar
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    If things get too tough, would it be an option for you to return home in July, as planned, and your partner goes in on a visit visa? Once in NZ, perhaps you could proceed with the application under Partnership from there. You could maybe look at this route which should give him a work permit to go on with and then progress onto residency. INZ in Singapore could forward your file down to NZ.
    Mother Bear

    Try to bloom wherever you are planted.

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    expatkiwi is offline Junior Member
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    That's the visa he's applied for. I really wasn't too worried about it either to be honest (until I went into the office), as I thought we more than covered the bases... I'd heard of this being approved really quickly for other couples, but I'm being told it will take us a long time etc, so I really don't know what to think anymore.

    I've thought about just going into NZ with my partner on a visit pass and trying to reapply for the work visa when we arrive.

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