06 January 2012

New Zealand immigration prevents wives of Filipino seamen from visiting

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The wives of two Filipino officers suspected in the involvement of a cargo ship's grounding three months ago have been denied visas to visit their husbands in New Zealand.

New Zealand visa

The officers of the stranded ship may have to wait a little longer to see their wives.

On the 5th of October of last year, the cargo vessel Rena struck the Astrolabe Reef, causing New Zealand charity workers and volunteers to scrabble to save marine wildlife from the effects of the resultant oil spill. Charged for being in connection with the ship's grounding, the Liberian-flagged Rena's captain and navigation officer were arrested by New Zealand immigration authorities a week after the crash.

The Costamere shipping company, owner of the doomed vessel, had attempted to bring the wives of the detained men to New Zealand but their applications for a New Zealand visa were declined shortly before Christmas.

Philippine Embassy consul Giovanni Palec said "the second officer was expecting it to go through, but they received this unfortunate news."

Palec remains optimistic though that the visas can still be obtained, simply stating "they probably have to submit more document requirements to the New Zealand embassy in Manila".

However, the process might not be as straight forward as Palec hopes, as New Zealand's immigration authorities have confirmed that the visas were turned down, stating that a general rule is in place preventing the automatic confirmation of visas simply for visiting purposes to the spouses of individuals facing court action.

And given the scale of the charges the officers are facing, this general rule is likely to be continually enforced until the pair's trial begins.

The two officers were originally charged under New Zealand's Maritime Transport Act for 'operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk'. They were further charged in connection with the resultant oil spill, which damaged the surrounding beaches of the Bay of Plenty as well as susbequent charges alleging the men falsified documents after the ship's grounding.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ), New Zealand's shipping authority said waves of up to seven metres are expected to batter the still stranded vessel and although "the ship remains in a fragile but stable condition" teams were on hand to respond to any further oil spills.

The officers have been reprimanded on bail without plea with their names suppressed and are due to appear in court on the 29th of February.


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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