3 Sep 2016

Scammed Indian students: 'We have to go, that's it'

3:52 pm on 3 September 2016

Members of New Zealand's Indian community say the government is treating students scammed by visa fraud like criminals by deporting them.

Protester organisers want the government to overturn their deportation and allow them to complete their courses.

Protester organisers want the government to overturn their deportation and allow them to complete their courses. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Around 40 protesters marched to the electorate office of Mount Roskill MP Parmjeet Parmar, and called on her to represent the Indian community and take a stand on student deportation.

About 150 international students from India say they are facing deportation after it was discovered the agencies that brought them to New Zealand to study had faked financial information on their study visa applications.

Organisers of the protest said the students, who paid tens of thousands of dollars to attend courses in New Zealand, were the real victims of fraud and should not be punished because of it.

They said the government should overturn their deportation, and allow them to complete their courses.

A protest organiser and a former international student, Sunny Sehgal, said the government needed to protect the students, not treat them like criminals.

"Deportation is absolutely hard punishment, the government doesn't understand they're playing with their whole life, their whole career.

"They are issuing them a deportation notice for something not even these students have done."

Indian students protesting over visa issues on 3.9.2016.

Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Sunil Chinta arrived in New Zealand in November to study business, and was unaware his visa papers were not legal.

He said he paid more than $17,000 in fees to attend the college, and more than $20,000 in expenses since arriving.

None of that will now return to him, and he said his future had now been ruined.

"They are saying we can't get any of the money back, we have to go, that's it," he said.

"We want to stay here and study, and to show my government and my family. We can't go back with empty hands, that's a nightmare."

Another student, Sairup Teegale, has paid over $33,000 in fees over the past year.

He became overwhelmed while speaking to the protesters, and spoke about the pressure he felt being in limbo and not knowing what will happen to him.

"I paid in November, and received my visa on November 14th. After paying we got the visa.

"After coming to New Zealand with a lot of dreams, if you do this it's not fair."

He said the government needed to accept responsibility because it accepted their applications and allowed them to come in and begin their studies.

"If you are punishing us, then you have to punish the consulate in India, and the visa department that approved us."

He said he and others had to resort to using an immigration agency because his college did not have direct communication with potential students overseas.

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