Government announces changes to the Victims of Family Violence visa
The Government has announced a welcome change to the Victims of Family Violence visa requirements that will allow migrant victims of family violence the ability to obtain a new six-month open work visa that is no longer tied to the immigration status of their abusive partner.
Leading immigration lawyer Aaron Martin explains the changes to the Victims of Family Violence visa and how they will help migrant family violence victims in New Zealand.
Family Violence visa update welcomed
According to Immigration Minister Michael Wood, the Victims of Family Violence visa has been expanded to protect vulnerable migrants from “being controlled through their visa circumstances.”
And while we wholeheartedly welcome the updated visa requirements, unfortunately, migrant victims of domestic abuse and family violence who hold temporary entry visas based on a relationship with an abusive partner on the same class of visa have been unprotected for too long.
In previous iterations of the Victims of Family Violence visa, it only applied to those who were in partnerships and had visas based on a relationship with a New Zealander. A family violence victim holding a work visa based on a relationship with another work visa holder could not apply for this type of visa. If they left the relationship due to abuse they ran the risk of being made liable for deportation (at worst) or being forced onto a visitor visa if they did not have work that allowed for a labour market tested work visa (Essential Skills or Accredited Employer work visa) to be issued.
This cruel visa setting was detrimental to the health and well-being of the victim, who, along with gathering the courage to leave an abusive relationship, was forced to face the stress of loss of income by no longer having the legal entitlement to work. In some instances it allowed the abuser to further persecute their victim by using Immigration’s compliance mechanisms against them.
More support for migrant victims of family violence
Brought into effect as of February 28, 2023, victims of family violence who are on a partner-based visa based on a relationship with another temporary visa holder can now apply for the new Victims of Family Violence visa that entitles them to obtain a six-month open work visa independent of their immigration settings.
This fee-free, high-priority visa allows migrant victims of family violence in New Zealand the ability to continue working and caring for children for six months without the threat of loss of income or deportation.
To be eligible for the updated Family Violence visa, the abusing partner must have been a New Zealand citizen or resident, or holder of a temporary visa and applicant must have held a visa based on the relationship with the abuser, such as a Partner of a New Zealand Work Visa or a Partner of a Worker Work Visa or a Partner of a Student Visitor Visa.
You can find more information on the criteria for the updated Family Violence visa at the New Zealand Immigration website HERE.
As mentioned, while we are delighted with the changes for the Victims of Family Violence visa and how it will lessen the strain on victims, much work still remains to be done in this immigration space to address the needs of vulnerable migrants.
How NZIL can help
Through our work, we know first-hand the strain and struggle migrants face, and we aim to help those most in need with empathy and understanding. If you seek professional advice about the updated changes to the Victims of Family Violence visa, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at New Zealand Immigration Law, who can assist you with all your immigration needs.