Fate rolls the dice on the immigration process
The immigration process is sometimes a ruthless box-ticking exercise.
Given such a stance, we forget that there are higher stakes at play and that other factors should come under consideration.
When immigration is humanised, many new possibilities arise, despite the odds.
Ultimately, it is a conversation about human beings and not a mere process or procedure. It is real. People’s futures are dictated by the decision-making process: not only where they live, but also how their life eventually pans out.
The following scenarios present such possibilities.
Anna (not her real name) is a Pacific Islander. She was married with seven children, one of who has New Zealand citizenship. She arrived here in 2002 and was later joined by her husband and children.
Anna had a heart condition and surgery was needed for her survival. She and her family were fighting an immigration battle to not only stay in New Zealand but also to get permanent residence so that she could access the public health system.
Deportation orders had been issued against the family and compliance officials wanted them to leave immediately.
You can imagine the joy and relief with which they learnt at our office last week that we had managed to regularise their stay and a letter confirming their permanent residence status was on its way. The family was overwhelmed with joy. They too had a bright future and Anna had a chance to live.
Ronda and her son arrived in New Zealand to see her sister on a visitor’s visa. Her husband works in Dubai and she found a compliance-related position in the financial industry and applied for a work visa. She was told that it would be a simple form-filling exercise but when Immigration New Zealand (INZ) officials asked her questions, she failed to grasp their relevance. Her application was thus declined.
After a year-long battle, she has acquired legal status and is considering applying for permanent residence. This family will become skilled migrants and I am confident that they will be an asset to New Zealand.
Worker becomes overstayer
Abay arrived in New Zealand as an international student, completed his education, obtained a job-search visa (one year), secured a job offer followed by two-year work visa but his residence application was declined.
At the end of two years, he was obliged to apply for a new work visa and since his grace period was up for the category of work he had done earlier (at a Petrol Station), he had to undergo a labour market test as a part of ‘Essential Skills Work Visa.’
Abay’s employer was obliged to prove that there were no New Zealanders available to undertake this role. Since this was an unfamiliar route, the requirements were neither understood nor met and hence the visa application failed.
Abay became an illegal stayer but was advised to file an appeal on humanitarian grounds to the Immigration Protection Tribunal.
For this appeal to be successful, exceptional circumstances to a standard accepted by the tribunal is required. In such cases, it is difficult to show exceptional circumstances and hence not likely to succeed, especially when a large number of applications are submitted to the Tribunal.
I caution those taking this route to be sure of their case before pursuing it.
We withdrew Abay’s appeal since we were able to legalise his stay through another route.
If the appeal had gone ahead, it would have failed and Abay would have been subject to deportation with a five year ban of re-entry.
Immigration is about humanity; it is about humanising the process, conveying emotions, seeking survival and giving one a chance!
After all, fate rolls the dice. Who knows what and who is next!