The importance of proof

... or why a visa application is not like a drivers license application.

many clients are surprised at the amount and detail of supporting documentation or evidence required for a visa application. When you look at INZ's website it looks quite simple and straightforward, almost like applying for a drivers license or passport. In these applications all you need to do is submit the one document that has the information they need, and the authorities are happy. A visa application is not the same, it has more in common with a court trial than a drivers license application.

Proving you meet the criteria

In either application you must prove that you meet the criteria set down by the relevant authority. So to prove your identity you must supply your passport or birth certificate for example. This is the same for immigration as well, and it is easily verified so there is no question about it in either case.

But for example to prove that you live at a specific address may be different. Many authorities in NZ will like to see a utlity bill in your name at the address you have written down on the application form. Just one is sufficient for a library card application for example. The reasoning is that if you have in your hands a document that has been sent through the post to the stated address, then it is highly reasonable that you live there. Otherwise it would be more difficult for you to receive the letter before the real occupier threw it away. However, if you really wanted to, it would not be difficult to have one utility bill sent to your friend's address, and they could hold it for you. This is the difference of an immigration application, and INZ almost always suspect that applicants are not being honest, so that is why a single document is not enough.

If you can supply a range of different evidence, not a huge pile of the same things it is much more convincing. 300 power bills is much, much  less useful than 20 documents like: 2 power bills, 3 phone bills, 5 courier packages, 2 post cards, 2 letters from your friends, a car WOF reminder, 2 insurance letters 1 bank statement, etc. Depending on the situation this may be enough, or you may need more. It all depends on how strong the application is overall, and how much the case officer will suspect.

Visa applications as a legal challenge

When we make an application for any category of visa we approach it as a legal challenge. This is normal because INZ approach applications in the same way. Even though the information on their website is made to look kind and helpful, this does not mean that they will assess your application kindly or helpfully.

When INZ receive an application it goes through several stages.

  1. Initial check - are the minimum documents present? This is the really basic stuff that the application form tells you that you must include. if this is all present, then INZ will accept your application for processing (where it will sit for some time before being allocated to a case officer)
  2. Assessment - The case officer checks that the documents are genuine, that there are no fake documents or information, they compare against previous applications and what you have provided or stated in them. Have you proved beyond reasonable doubt that you meet the criteria. The case officer must be convinced that you do, and this is often where applications fail. This is the stage where we may pre-emptively attack to make a strong point before the case officer has time to suspect. if we can change how the case officer sees the evidence to a more positive way, then it may mean the difference between success and faliure or a fast application and a slow one.
  3. Approval, decline or PPI letter - depending on stage 2, INZ may approve the visa quickly, decline it if it if offshore or send a PPI letter for more proof if it is onshore. A PPI letter means that the application is heading for a decline, but INZ must give you a chance to defend yourself first. if you wait for a PPI letter before gathering strong evidnece for your case it is often too late.

The way an application is approached can make a very big difference to the speed that it is processed and the outcome as well. Using a professional for your application means that you are not trusting to luck. It does not mean that you are guaranteed to succeed, but it means that you won't fail because of a badly prepared application. Many people who should actually get a visa are declined because they haven't done the application properly and using a LIA mitigates this.