Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Age-gap husband told to go

Balwinder Singh, 22, was denied a work visa based on his marriage to 59-year-old Glynn Kessell-Singh. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Balwinder Singh, 22, was denied a work visa based on his marriage to 59-year-old Glynn Kessell-Singh. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A 22-year-old Indian who married a Kiwi nearly 40 years his senior has failed to convince Immigration that the decision to deny him a visa was discrimination.

Balwinder Singh, a former Vodafone business specialist, had been declined a work visa under the partnership category based on his marriage to 59-year-old Glynn Kessell last September.

The couple's immigration adviser, Tuariki Delamere, filed a complaint against the case officers, alleging discrimination over age, culture and religion in their decision.

But the agency's area manager, Michael Carley, said Immigration had completed its investigation into the complaint and was satisfied that the correct procedures and instructions were followed and that the decision-making process was "detailed and robust".

"Mr Singh is in New Zealand unlawfully and we would once again urge him to make immediate plans to depart or risk the possibility of deportation action," Mr Carley said.

Mr Singh, also known as Ben, is believed to be in Dunedin, but could not be reached for comment.

The Herald understands the couple have an agreement with a magazine that prevents them from speaking to other media.

Mr Delamere said the couple intended to continue the fight to remain together in New Zealand and take their case to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

"They could take this to the High Court where they have a strong chance of winning, but that's extremely expensive and they are currently not in the financial situation to do so," said Mr Delamere. "They maintain their love and relationship is genuine, and will carry on their fight to stay together."

Mr Delamere said he would also be lodging a complaint with the Ombudsman about the Immigration decision being "age-discriminatory".

Immigration had cited Mr Singh's "significant age gap" of 38 years to his wife, who turns 60 in September, as one of the reasons for declining his visa application. The application was assessed twice by different officers who did not believe that the partnership was genuine and stable.

Mr Singh met his wife at a Glenfield Mall hairdressing salon last year and their relationship moved to intimacy within three weeks and marriage two months later.

Immigration described the courtship as "uncommonly short", and noted that a visit to the couple's former North Shore home found their living arrangement to be "akin to a boarding situation".

Mr Singh had said his inability to work because he was without a visa had put them in a "serious financial situation".

Their tenancy was terminated following arrears of rent and water, and the couple moved to Dunedin after Mrs Kessell-Singh was offered a job there.

- NZ Herald

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