- The appellant's residence application under the Family (Partnership) category was declined due to her husband's past sexual offences.
- Immigration New Zealand declined the application after failing to grant a character waiver to her husband.
- The Tribunal agreed with Immigration New Zealand's decision but recognised the appellant's special circumstances.
- The case highlights the balance between the seriousness of offences and the impact of decisions on family life.
- The Tribunal found the case to warrant consideration for an exception by the Minister of Immigration.
The appellant, a 57-year-old citizen of the Philippines, engaged in a relationship with a 65-year-old New Zealand-born citizen after meeting him through a Christian dating website in June 2016. She arrived in New Zealand on 1 November 2016 and began cohabiting with her husband. She was informed of her husband's criminal convictions shortly after her arrival. These convictions, dating from 1988 to 1996, included serious sexual offences against his then-minor daughter. The couple agreed that these offences were part of the husband's past.
Prior to Appeal
The appellant made a residence application under the Family (Partnership) category on 7 August 2018, which included her younger daughter. Her subsequent work visa application in April 2019 was granted as an exception to instructions, allowing her to remain in New Zealand while her residence application was processed. This visa expired on 25 September 2020, and she currently holds an interim visa valid until 26 March 2021.
Immigration New Zealand Assessment
Immigration New Zealand's assessment involved examining the husband's criminal history and their failure to disclose these convictions in the partnership support form. They engaged in extensive correspondence with the couple and required them to provide material supporting a character waiver for the husband. Despite this, Immigration New Zealand concluded that the seriousness of the husband's offending outweighed any positive factors and declined the character waiver, leading to the decline of the appellant's residence application.
Immigration New Zealand Decision
Immigration New Zealand declined the appellant's residence application on 3 August 2020. The decision was based on the finding that her husband did not meet the character requirement due to his sexual offence convictions, and a character waiver was not granted.
The IPT conducted a thorough review of the process and the appellant's special circumstances. It found that while Immigration New Zealand's waiver assessment was procedurally fair, it might not have fully considered the surrounding circumstances. However, the Tribunal agreed with Immigration New Zealand's conclusion that the husband's serious past offences outweighed the positive factors.
The Tribunal noted the appellant's stable and genuine partnership with her husband, her integration into New Zealand society, and the significant impact that denying residence would have on their relationship. The husband's offence history, though serious, was historic, with no further convictions in the past 23 years. The Tribunal highlighted that the appellant's circumstances, particularly the potential permanent separation from her husband if she could not remain in New Zealand, were special and warranted consideration by the Minister of Immigration for an exception to instructions.
The Tribunal concluded that while Immigration New Zealand's decision to decline the application was correct based on the husband's criminal history and the balance of factors, the appellant's circumstances were special. These special circumstances, particularly concerning their genuine and stable relationship and the appellant's established life in New Zealand, warranted consideration for an exception to the residence instructions by the Minister of Immigration.