Three Indian students who were caught up in immigration fraud and subsequently faced deportation have been granted a reprieve on compassionate grounds by the Government.
Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has determined the students can stay in New Zealand with open work visas for a year.
The three students had engaged the services of an education agent in India who had, unbeknownst to them, been falsifying supporting visa documents.
In early 2017, these students sought refuge in an Auckland church, along with a number of other students, but eventually they had to leave New Zealand when the National Party Immigration Minister at the time refused to reverse an Immigration decision to cancel their visas or to overturn their deportation notice.
Labour MPs’ gesture
Labour MPs Dr Deborah Russell and Priyanca Radhakrishnan have been advocates for the students and helped with the four cases where the Ombudsman found there were processing problems at Immigration New Zealand.
Both MPs are delighted by the outcome.
“It was a complicated case and on a strict interpretation of immigration rules, it would not be possible for the students to come back. But it’s good to see that compassion can prevail. I met them in 2017 and really felt for them,” Ms Russell said.
Ms Radhakrishnan said, “The process has taken a while as we have had to wait for the Ombudsman’s report on the matter but I am pleased that three students have the option of returning to New Zealand, should they wish to.”
She said that she will continue to advocate for the rights of international students and support the Government in its work to create fairer immigration policies.
“Being involved with a case like this shows how important it is to get our policies right in the first place,” Ms Radhakrishnan said.
The fourth student was not granted a work visa because he has been able to travel to another OECD country for study since leaving New Zealand.
The last batch of international students housed at the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby, Auckland, before their departure to India (Picture Courtesy: Radio New Zealand)