Shane Jones 'worked up' over 'sense of entitlement of immigrant leaders'

Shane Jones is defending Immigration New Zealand (INZ) after it instructed officials to stop granting visas as an exception to instructions, which had become "standard practice". 

The New Zealand First MP said he is "worked up" over the "elevated sense of entitlement from a lot of immigrant leaders", after some in New Zealand's Indian community spoke out against the tightening of the rules. 

INZ's Peter Elms said officials must now "ensure immigration instructions are adhered to, unless there are circumstances in the particular case that warrants a waiver or exception to instructions".

The directive has led members of the Indian community in New Zealand to speak out, saying the current partnership visa rules disadvantage those who come from cultures that practice arranged marriages. 

The New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment is concerned about the rules requiring people to live together for a significant period of time before a spouse can be brought to New Zealand under the visa. 

You must be able to show us that you're living together in a genuine and stable relationship before INZ can grant a visa based on partnership, the rules state

But that doesn't work for people who don't live together before marriage, which is often the case with arranged marriages where it's tradition for the couple to live together only once they're married. 

New Zealand First MP and Cabinet minister Shane Jones.
New Zealand First MP and Cabinet minister Shane Jones. Photo credit: Getty

Jones, a Cabinet minister, told Magic Talk Indians moving to New Zealand should learn to adapt. He likened it Māori, who "adapted with the arrival of the Pākehā". 

He said if Indians feel it's too oppressive, "you always have the option of staying in your own country, marrying a lady over there, living there for two or three years, and then proving it's a genuine marriage... That option is always available". 

Auckland Indian Association president Narendra Bhana told RNZ he felt immigration officials had "failed to understand" the cultural differences between India and New Zealand. 

Jones told Magic Talk he gets "a bit worked up by the elevated sense of entitlement from a lot of the immigrant leaders" and urged them to not "abuse" the "privilege" that INZ grants.  

"I thoroughly back the immigration officials - they've got a shocker of a job and there's still a lot of discontent about how we're operationalizing the changes to immigration policy."

Associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams.
Associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams. Photo credit: Parliament TV

Associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams noted the Government's policy hasn't changed, and that INZ has made "some slight operational changes". 

"As far as I understand, operationally Immigration New Zealand rules do allow for arranged marriages to occur because we understand that one of the considerations is that it's a bona fide relationship," she told Newshub. 

Immigration policy does allow for the granting of a visitor visa for a culturally arranged marriage for people intending to marry New Zealand citizens or residents.

National's immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith questioned Williams in Parliament on Thursday about comments Jones had made on the topic. 

Jones told RNZ the Indian community has "no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand and if you don't like it and you're threatening to go home - catch the next flight home". 

National's immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith.
National's immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith. Photo credit: Parliament TV

Williams said she has no ministerial responsibility for Jones, but said she would "note that New Zealand welcomes people from all countries". 

"We have a rules-based immigration system and a great country to live in - that means we can't take all the people who want to come to New Zealand.

"We do recognise that partnership visas are important because we recognise their importance to people's partners and to their wellbeing and their happiness and settlement."

Elms acknowledged to Newshub that the new directive has "reset an expectation that had developed, in the Indian market in particular". 

"The expectation was that if partnership requirements are not met, applications will likely be granted a general visitor visa in order to reunite with their partner and test living together requirements onshore."

He said INZ is "mindful of cultural complexities and sensitivities" when dealing with visa applicants, but felt the organisation "must observe immigration policy as set by the Government".