Immigration officials in Delhi are allegedly refusing Indians on work visas to return to New Zealand if they have stayed in the country longer than four weeks.
Barrister Alastair McClymont filed an urgent petition at the Auckland High Court on December 10, 2012 on behalf of his eight clients, restraining Immigration New Zealand (INZ) from the practice.
“Many Indians, who have gone to their home country to celebrate Diwali and other family and social occasions, have been refused permission to board flights to New Zealand on the ground that they have ‘overstayed’ in India, with INZ officials saying that their job position and other details need to be investigated,” he said.
Mr McClymont said that there was no such action taken by any other INZ office anywhere in the world and hence believes that Delhi officials were ‘targeting Indian workers.’
“Immigration officials in India have told my clients that they have to determine if they have been in India for more than four weeks ‘on genuine grounds’ and that they would have to contact their employers in New Zealand for verification. But they sit quiet on these cases. They did nothing, letting time lapse,” he said.
He said many Indians go to their home country for an extended period (in some cases up to two or three months) because they use the time to get married, arrange the marriage of their siblings or children, secure admission for their sons and daughters in schools and universities and for a variety of other reasons.
“While the officials have the right to examine the genuineness of each case, such inspection or investigation should be carried out without delay. We have reason to believe that INZ is deliberately delaying the process so that the migrant workers would ‘automatically lose their jobs.’ This is unfair,” he said.
Warning to workers
Saif Shaikh, a Licensed Immigration Adviser and Director of Immigration Advice NZ Ltd based in Auckland said that he has also been receiving frantic calls from holders of Residence Visas and Work Visas from boarding flights to New Zealand.
“Resident Visa holders could ensure that their visas would remain valid throughout their stay overseas, while Work Visa holders must ensure that they have multiple travel conditions on their work visa label.
“Should you realise at the last minute that your current work visa does not allow travel, you should apply for a variation with INZ. In urgent cases, this may be also done at the INZ counter on your way to the airport,” he said.
Mr McClymont said that the unfriendly attitude of INZ in New Delhi has seen a sharp decline in the number of Indians coming here on permanent residence, student visas and business visas.
Short of target
“INZ will not be able to meet its annual target of 45,000 to 50,000 migrants coming into this country. We know that so far this year, no more than 12,178 Residence visas have been issued,” he said.
Mr McClymont blamed the Labour Government for according ‘unlimited and unquestionable’ powers to immigration officials during its time in power.
Mr Cunliffe said as Immigration Minister (in 2005), he had put in place an immigration regime that would facilitate efficient and fast processing of visas.
“The Labour Government had given powers only to senior officials to process quickly quality applicants and remove bottlenecks in the system. Our immigration policy was designed to be friendly to potential immigrants, international students and visitors, apart from those applying in various other categories,” he said.