7 Apr 2014

Woman will lose children if deported

10:13 pm on 7 April 2014

A National MP who used to be the associate immigration minister has offered to help a British woman living in Canterbury who may have to leave the country without her children.

Rachel Carter arrived in New Zealand with her British husband and their two children in August 2010 but the marriage has ended and she is no longer eligible to stay on his visa.

In May 2011, the Family Court ruled her two children were habitual residents of New Zealand, and withheld their passports from her.

The 36-year-old, whose work visa expires on 18 June, says she has contacted the Immigration Minister and Associate Minister, the Department of Immigration and her local MPs but none could help her.

Her current work visa expires in about 10 weeks and the Family Court has ruled her children are New Zealand residents, so she cannot take them with her.

In response to inquiries by Radio New Zealand News, Waimakariri MP and former associate minister Kate Wilkinson says if she is asked, she will take the case to the minister.

She says the minister could tailor a visa to suit the situation, if there are sufficient humanitarian grounds.

Ms Carter, who lives in Rangiora, near Christchurch, says she has been told to apply for a six-month visitor's visa but she needs to be granted residency in order to stay for her children.

She says she was told the minister does not get involved in applications unless they have been declined and I "said but you don't understand; there's nothing I can apply for apart from a visitor visa".

"... whilst a visitor visa may be granted I can't stay just for six months and then go out of the country for six months. I have children here."

An immigration lawyer says there is an anomaly in the system. Mark Williams says Ms Carter can appeal to the Immigration Protection Tribunal after her work visa expires but she would have to demonstrate deportation would be unjust or unduly harsh.