In this edition:
- The latest on culturally arranged marriage visas
- Listed utilities sector in New Zealand
- Most sectors experiencing strong employment demand, particularly in the regions
The latest on culturally arranged marriage visas
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been in hot water with the recent uproar around its inconsistent approach to granting visas for people entering into culturally arranged marriages. It has now amended its policy to soften its stance for visas being issued under this category.
It was some fifteen years ago that INZ introduced the Culturally Arranged Marriages visa category. Applications made under this category allowed a visitor visa to be granted to person who was intending to travel to New Zealand for the purpose of marrying a New Zealand citizen or resident, and where that marriage was taking place within three months of the applicant’s arrival in New Zealand.
This policy posed difficulties for couples who were entering into a culturally arranged marriage outside of New Zealand and who then wished to travel to this country to begin their life together. This is because in many instances, there was no visitor category that enabled them to do so. Specifically:
– The applicant would not be eligible to apply for a visa under Culturally Arranged Marriages visa scheme, if they were married offshore.
– The applicant would also be unlikely to eligible for a partnership-based visa to accompany their New Zealand citizen resident partner to New Zealand. INZ policy sets out that partnership-based visas require an applicant to demonstrate to INZ that they are living together in a genuine and stable relationship. This is impossible to demonstrate where it is not culturally appropriate for a couple to live together prior to their marriage.
– Many of these applicants may have also been denied General visitor visas to enable them begin living with their spouse in New Zealand, with the intent of later applying for a partnership-based visa. Technically, the policy only allows such a visa to be granted where an applicant genuinely only intends to stay temporarily in New Zealand. This would not be the case if they intended to remain permanently in New Zealand.
INZ has been applying this policy inconsistently; following advice provided to INZ Case Officers that a General visitor visa should not be considered an automatic default position for applicants who do not meet the living together requirements for the grant of a partnership-based visa. This has resulted in a large number of declined applications.
Following a backlash from those who were unable to secure visas for their partners to reside with them in New Zealand, INZ has released changes to the Culturally Arranged Marriages visa category.
These changes which took effect on 19 November 2019 set out that a person may now be eligible to apply for a Culturally Arranged Marriages visa if the culturally arranged marriage took place outside of New Zealand. This marriage must have taken place within three months of submission of the visa application.
When assessing such applications, INZ will undertake a robust assessment through interview and/or documentary evidence to be satisfied that the marriage ceremony followed an “identified cultural tradition.” It will be interesting to see how INZ applies this policy, as it is our view that this still affords significant discretion to INZ Officers to determine what an “acceptable” marriage looks like. Many Case Officers will be unfamiliar with culturally arranged marriage traditions.
INZ has also provided internal advice that if an individual is travelling to New Zealand to join their partner after a culturally arranged marriage that took place offshore, they may still be considered a genuine visitor.
Therefore, people who have entered into an arranged marriage offshore, but have not yet lived together may now be eligible to apply for a visitor visa under the Culturally Arranged Marriages visa category. They may then proceed to submit a partnership-based work visa once they have been living together in New Zealand and thereafter a resident visa application following 12 months of living together.
If your visa has been declined
INZ will be emailing partners of New Zealand citizens/residents who had temporary visas declined between 10 May 2019 and 31 October 2019. It will invite these applicants to complete a new application form and provide updated supporting documentation. It will then assess these applications under its updated Culturally Arranged Marriages visa policy and guidelines. INZ will be waiving the application fee for these applications.
We understand that there are approximately 1,200 individuals that INZ will be contacting to invite to reapply for such visas. INZ has indicated that it will reach out to the affected applicants by 02 December 2019.
If you would like our assistance to obtain a visa under the Culturally Arranged Marriages visa scheme, or if you have recently had a visa declined under this category and would like to resubmit your application please contact us for further assistance. The invitation and second review for those invited to reapply does not guarantee visa approval.
For further information or assistance with emigration please contact Lane Neave Lawyers on + 64 3 379 3720 or email email@example.com
Listed utilities sector in New Zealand
There are eight electricity related companies listed on the NZ Exchange, seven of these are constituents of S&P/NZX50 Gross Index. The sector dominates the market, accounting for ~20% of this benchmark (US Utilities represent ~3% of the S&P500 index) and when combined with other Utilities, ~3% of NZs GDP.
Due to their stable revenue streams and consistent dividend payout, utilities are traditionally considered a reliable, defensive, high yield sector. Under the NZ imputation credit system1 the sector, on average, is expected to pay a one year forward gross yield of ~6.0%. This equates to a net yield of ~4.5%*. Compared to bond yield returns, it is easy to see why these are attractive returns to local investors. For this reason, many investors refer to Utility stocks as “bond proxies”. Understandably their share price performance is strongly correlated to bond yield movements. If the bond yields go down, their prices tend to go up and vice versa.
A feature within the financial markets this year has been lower bond yields and interest rates. Furthermore, we have seen a large amount of bonds mature at a time when there have been limited new issuances. That is, more bonds have matured compared to new bond offerings. As a result, investors have been given two options, either reduce their standard of living, or, accept higher risk (equity yield) to have a chance of retaining their current one. Most investors have incorporated a combination of both, meaning those assets with relatively stable returns, such as Utilities and Real Estate Investment Trusts stocks, have benefited from ongoing investment support. This has been a main driving force behind the increase in Utility stock prices this year. The year to date* price returns for the sector have, on average, risen an impressive 33.8%. They have been a standout.
Utility stocks though are not bonds. Just like any other stock, they have a variety of risks which could impact both earnings and dividend. This became evident during October when the sector encountered heavy selling following a decision by Rio Tinto to review its investment in NZ Aluminum Smelter (NZAS). NZAS is the biggest single consumer of NZ electricity, accounting for 12% of total consumption of NZ electricity supply. This “strategic review” has created sector uncertainty, especially given one potential outcome could lead to a full closure of NZAS. The prospect of an extra 12% supply in electricity flooding the market would have a material near term negative impact to the price of electricity. This increased risk led to many share prices falling about 8%.
While some analysts believe this “review” forms part of Rio Tinto’s renegotiation proposal around electricity usage, it will likely dominate the sector until it is complete (March 2020). On the other hand, economic indicators are improving with China-US trade talks seemingly heading in the right direction. Bond yields have improved meaning the need to acquire equity yield reduces. If this continues, “bond proxy” stocks will lose appeal, potentially giving up some year to date gains.
Depending on investment objectives, existing stock holders may choose to either, take some profit, divest, or continue to hold due to the sectors long term investment appeal. New investors though are likely to stage their investment over a period of months to balance sector risk with valuation uncertainty.
1Companies may attach tax credit to dividends to reduce local investors’ income tax obligation.
“*” price as of 8 Nov 2019 close price
Article provided by Ally Cui – Director, JB Were.
Most sectors experiencing strong employment demand, particularly in the regions
As the end of the year approaches, employment and advertising trends remain positive.
There has been an increase in the three months to October, when compared to the three months to July.
While the regional demands remain fundamentally strong, Auckland and Christchurch have softened recently.
The rest of country, especially regionally still has strong demands across the board in most sectors.
Advertising for Engineering and Sales positions continues to slow. In contrast, the public sector demands of Government & Defence, Healthcare & Medical continue to grow.
The Spring / Summer season has seen a renewed interest in Hospitality & Tourism, and Science & Technology.
As for what’s been going on with employment levels, last week’s NZ Household Labour Force Survey was encouraging.
Enterprise Recruitment have over forty years’ experience in the New Zealand market place and have strong networks throughout the country.
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