Victims of Domestic Violence Policy Changes

Sat 17 Jan 2009

The Department of Labour has announced a series of changes to improve access to the Victims of Domestic Violence (VDV) immigration Policy. These ...

The Department of Labour has announced a series of changes to improve access to the Victims of Domestic Violence (VDV) immigration Policy. These changes were agreed upon by Cabinet in September 2008 and are set to be implemented in March 2009.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Shakti and several other stakeholders provided significant input during the policy review process.

The VDV policy affects foreign-born partners of New Zealand citizens and residents in New Zealand. It seeks to better protect foreign-born partners of New Zealand Citizens if they had intended to seek residence on the basis of that relationship, but the relationship ended because of domestic violence on the part of the sponsor, they are able to apply for a work or residence permit. This change allows the applicant the opportunity to apply to remain in New Zealand without requiring to be sponsored.

This policy change also gives consideration to the difficult circumstances that the applicants of work permits and residence under the VDV policy face and all application fees are waived. The Department of Labour is set to review the policy 12 months after the proposed changes are implemented.

Policy changes
The following changes intend to enable more applicants to meet policy criteria.
• A policy objective statement will recognize New Zealand’s international obligations to protect victims of domestic violence.
• The policy will be broadened to recognize that domestic violence may have been perpetrated by anyone in a “domestic relationship” with the applicant (not just their partner).
• Applicants for temporary work permits under the policy will be allowed to demonstrate only that domestic violence has occurred, rather than having to prove both domestic violence and their inability to return home.
• The temporary work permit under the policy will be extended to up to nine months.
• The VDV policy will be extended to allow the use of non-judicial forms of evidence for domestic violence. This evidence will be statutory declarations completed by the applicant and two further statutory declarations completed by competent persons in different professions. This creates an alternative option to approaching the Police for evidence.
• The requirement that applicants be referred to the Department of Labour by a Child, Youth and Family Services approved refuge be removed so that applicants can choose who they wish to support them, or refer themselves.
• The criteria for gauging whether a person cannot be returned to their country of origin will have to be broadened so that applicants need only show that if they returned, they would either:
o Have no means of independent financial support from employment or other means, or
o Be at risk of abuse or exclusion from their community because of stigma.