But Minister distances from Indian students’ issue
Auckland, Friday, February 17, 2017
Even as Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is reported to have agreed to negotiate with the Indian students now staying inside the Unitary Church in Auckland, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse distanced himself from the issue, saying that it was not proper for him to interfere.
Speaking to Indian Newslink earlier this evening, Mr Woodhouse said that full facts of the case have not been published and that as a Minister he has had to ensure that norms were followed.
He also said that INZ had reviewed the students’ issue on a case-to-case basis.
“This issue has been going on since May 2016. These students are amongst 191 international students from India involved in irregular entry procedure (including faked documents and bank statement fraud). Of these, 130 left New Zealand either on their own or because of deportation orders issued by Immigration New Zealand,” Mr Woodhouse said.
He said that Auckland based Immigration Lawyer Alastair McClymont has been handing the cases of nine students out of who six have completed their qualifications.
“We have followed all the systems and procedures. INZ issues about a million visas of various types every year and there is no room for fraudulent entrants,” he said.
Alastair McClymont speaks
When contacted by Indian Newslink, Mr McClymont said that INZ has agreed to enter into negotiations with 11 of his clients, nine of who have claimed sanctuary at the Unitarian Church.
“The New Zealand Government promised these students the opportunity of applying for Graduate Work Visas once they completed their qualifications. They promised that study here was a ‘pathway to residency.’ All that these students have ever wanted was to have the opportunity of having their case fairly heard, and that’s what INZ have now agreed to do,” he said.
Mr McClymont said that the students are happy to have their applications considered when they return to India.
“But they want the ability to do this without having the status of being a deported person hanging over their head, without a five-year ban and to make the case that they had no knowledge of the fraud committed by the agent,” he said.
“INZ has agreed to discuss these negotiation points between now and Wednesday, (February 22, 2017),” he added.
In an earlier statement, INZ General Manager (Visa Services)Steve Stuart said that his department takes allegations of fraud extremely seriously and acts decisively when cases are proved.
“Verification processes have been enhanced, and INZ works closely with partner agencies, including providing regular advice and information to education industry groups and providers regarding the India market to raise awareness of the risks. These students have had ample opportunity to leave New Zealand voluntarily and many have done so,” he said.
“In all cases the students had declared on their applications that information and evidence supporting their application was genuine, and INZ stands by the deportation decisions. The individuals have been subject to a fair process, which has included having their appeal considered,” he added.
Mr Woodhouse spoke to us on a number of other issues, which we will report in our next print edition on March 1, 2017.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse with (from left) Indian Newslink Managing Director Jacob Mannothra, National MP (Botany) Jami-Lee Ross, Indian Newslink Assistant Editor Ratna Venkat and Link2 Services Limited Managing Director Indra Sirigiri at our offices on Friday, February 17, 2017.