General visitor visas and the requirement to be ‘bona fide’ – what does it mean?
  • Zealand Immigration
  • Date : October 09 2021
General visitor visas and the requirement to be ‘bona fide’ – what does it mean?

The main reason why so many applications for general (tourist) visitor visas are declined is because the applicant fails to demonstrate that they are a ‘bona fide’ visitor intending a temporary stay. This means giving enough evidence to satisfy Immigration New Zealand that you have sufficient incentives to return to your home country at the end of your stay in New Zealand and not overstay.

Bona fide is a Latin term meaning ‘genuine’, ‘real’ and ‘without intention to deceive’. Before a general category visitor visa can be approved, the applicant must demonstrate to an immigration officer’s satisfaction that their genuine and sole intention is to visit only and they do not have any underlying or undeclared motives for entering New Zealand.

If the applicant is a direct blood relative of someone who lives in New Zealand (their mother or father, for example), then getting a general visitor visa approved is a fairly simple exercise – Immigration New Zealand trusts that there are fewer risk factors in such cases because elderly parents generally just want to come and visit their children for a while and then return home to attend to their commitments.

For people who are not blood relatives, however, it is much more difficult. Unless the applicant is part of a tourist group (e.g. a family on holiday together or an organised tour), or has already been travelling in New Zealand and just wants to extend their stay to complete further travel, Immigration New Zealand will want to see a lot of evidence of their incentives to return to their home country. Bonus tip: Return flight tickets are helpful!

For those who are not in education, employment or training (‘NEETs’) and who also do not have any assets or other significant financial ties to their home country, this is very difficult to prove. The people who this is most likely to apply to are women from countries like China, India, the Philippines, Afghanistan, etc. because in all of those countries it is common for women to become housewives after marriage, sometimes with joint assets and bank accounts in the husband’s name only (because the expectation is that the husband provides for his wife), so the kind of evidence that they can provide will be limited due to the cultural differences between the two countries.

If you are thinking of applying for a visitor visa under the general category, take the time to examine your circumstances carefully and consider what kind of evidence you can produce as proof of your reasons to return home. With Immigration it is always a weighing and balancing exercise, and it is useful to remember that they are considering the nature of any personal, financial, employment or other commitments that you have in your home country against what you have in New Zealand – if there is more potential gain for you in New Zealand than there is in your home country, or you have disproportionately strong ties here that would incentivise you to overstay, then your application is more likely to be declined.

As always, it is a good idea to consult an immigration adviser first to discuss whether applying for a general category visitor visa is really the best option for you depending on your plans.

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