23 Apr 2019

Indian students granted new visas two years after deportation

From Checkpoint, 5:37 pm on 23 April 2019

Four Indian students deported in 2017 have been allowed to return to New Zealand on new visas.

The students were among nine who were deported after Immigration New Zealand discovered their India-based agent falsified documents in their applications.

They were first served deportation notices in September 2016 - but publicly fought the decision, taking refuge in an Auckland church in the weeks prior to their deportation in early 2017.

They have always maintained they had no idea the documents were fake. 

Their lawyer, Alistair McClymont, said four of the deported students had been granted new visas by Associate Minister of Immigration, Kris Faafoi. 

Manoj Narra said he was ostracised and treated like a thief when he returned to India in 2017 and struggled to get a job because people knew he'd been deported. 

His parents had loaned their life savings of about $40,000 to him to travel and study in New Zealand, but he was only in the country for three months before he was told to leave. 

Mr Faafoi informed him last week that he'd waived the period of prohibition and granted him an open work visa, valid for six months' travel and a subsequent stay in New Zealand for another 12 months.

"I have shared information to my family and I can't express in a single word my happiness. What we are fighting for [these] last three years, from 2016, May 17, we are fighting for this issue," Mr Narra told Checkpoint.

The software engineer said he looked forward to returning to New Zealand and hoped to work in IT or business management, and to pay his parents back. 

He felt his name had now been cleared.  

"I want to say to each and every person, I have not done anything wrong … it was done by some person and I was punished for that."

Migrant Workers' Association spokesperson Anu Kaloti told Morning Report there's a huge sense of relief.

"They can start to clear their names and they feel that they are now able to prove to their families, friends, society that they live in that they are not criminals, they've not done anything wrong and they are innocent," she said.

"We've been waiting for a very long time, a very long three years." 

Ms Kaloti said the National government did nothing to help the students and said some National MPs went as far as to insult them. 

"I am still convinced that this issue could have been sorted out much sooner," Ms Kaloti said.