- Appellant's long residence and family ties in New Zealand were significant.
- INZ declined the residence application due to credibility issues.
- IPT confirmed INZ's decision but recognised special circumstances.
- The best interests of the appellant's New Zealand-citizen children were pivotal.
The appellant, a 49-year-old Samoan citizen, arrived in New Zealand in 1998, where he subsequently met his wife, a Samoan-born New Zealand citizen. They have two New Zealand-citizen sons born in 2007 and 2013. Initially entering on visitor permits, he became unlawful after these expired. Over the years, he made multiple unsuccessful attempts to regularise his status through various applications, including the Samoan Quota, requests for ministerial intervention, and applications for work and residence permits. His only departure from New Zealand since his arrival was a three-week family trip to Samoa in 2016.
Prior to Appeal
The appellant applied for residence under the Family (Partnership) category on 10 July 2017, claiming a continuous living arrangement with his wife since 1998. Supporting documents included birth certificates, letters of support, and other correspondence. However, discrepancies in their living arrangements and separation periods were identified by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), leading to further scrutiny and interviews.
Immigration New Zealand Assessment
INZ's assessment focused on the credibility of the appellant's statements regarding their relationship and living arrangements. They found inconsistencies in the couple's statements about periods of separation and addresses. Despite evidence of shared life, INZ was not satisfied with the credibility of the statements, particularly regarding the couple's separation periods and residential addresses.
Immigration New Zealand Decision
On 3 August 2018, INZ declined the appellant's application, concluding that the appellant and his wife were not living together in a genuine and stable relationship based on the inconsistencies in their statements.
The IPT confirmed INZ's decision as correct based on the appellant's failure to meet the credibility requirement under the applicable instructions. However, the Tribunal acknowledged the possibility of confusion over separation dates and the plausibility of using different addresses to avoid detection by immigration authorities.
Despite confirming INZ's decision, the IPT identified special circumstances warranting consideration by the Minister of Immigration. These included the appellant's long-term relationship with his New Zealand-citizen wife, their two New Zealand-citizen children, efforts to regularise his immigration status, and the negative impact of potential separation on the family, particularly considering the children's well-being and educational needs.
Acknowledging the negative aspects of the appellant's history in New Zealand, including periods of unlawfulness and convictions, the IPT still found that the appellant's family situation, particularly the best interests of his New Zealand-citizen children, constituted special circumstances. The Tribunal recommended that the Minister of Immigration consider granting the appellant a resident visa as an exception to the instructions.