Rishikesh Gudimalla's culture dictates that he cannot live with his wife - whom he entered into an arranged marriage with - until after their wedding.
However, by living up to his Indian cultural expectations, his wife's partnership visa has been declined by Immigration NZ for not meeting immigration requirements.
The New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) says current partnership visa rules disadvantage Indians and other migrants who come from cultures that practice arranged marriages.
"The problem is particularly acute for many Indian nationals but also other migrants from communities where marriages are a norm or at least common," an association spokeswoman said.
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"The rules are written in a way that assumes that people will live together for a significant period of time before their relationship can be accepted.
"That does not work well for people who do not live together prior to marriage and for those cultures that place more weight on that formal marriage, than on cohabitation alone."
She said previously, spouses who had not spent a significant period of time living together could get a visitor visa so they could start living together in New Zealand and later apply in the partnership category.
"Now INZ generally insists the immigrant partner meets the cohabitation requirement at the outset, placing couples in a very difficult situation because the New Zealand partner is often unable to leave the country for more than a mere holiday for work or financial reasons," the spokeswoman said.
She said it was unclear to what extent the desire to reduce the number of migrants had contributed to the change in INZ's approach.
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"Numerical targets should not impinge on the assessment of partnership visas," the spokeswoman added.
Gudimalla, who married Chatla in February, has been battling INZ for eight months to get a partnership visa for his wife to come to New Zealand.
The mechanic at Toyota Auckland said he and his wife were devastated by INZ's decision not to grant her a visa.
In the letter of decline, dated October 22, 2019, INZ said it decided against granting her a visa because "you have not demonstrated that you and your partner are living together in a genuine and stable relationship".
Gudimalla said the decision was completely unfair and was angry at the government agency's lack of understanding with culturally arranged marriages.
"It was impossible for us to be living together after our wedding because I couldn't get more than a few weeks annual leave. We were intending to start our new lives in New Zealand," he said.
"I have a big tattoo of my wife's name on my arm and we have been in the news, what else does INZ need to prove that we are a genuine couple?"
INZ operations support manager Michael Carley rejected any assertion that it lacks understanding of culturally arranged marriages.
"INZ does have processes that take culturally arranged marriages into account," he said.
"However, immigration officers must consider applications against the rules and criteria set out in immigration instructions."
Carley said the agency would accept visitor visa applications from those wanting to enter New Zealand for a culturally arranged marriage to a New Zealand citizen or resident.
However, it needed to be satisfied about the couple's genuine intentions, that the marriage followed an identified cultural tradition and that it would be maintained on a long-term, exclusive basis.