2 Feb 2017

Indian students lose bid to stay in NZ

9:15 pm on 2 February 2017
Indian students facing deportation from New Zealand

Indian students facing deportation from New Zealand Photo: RNZ/ Bradley Ambrose

At least nine Indian students have lost their bid to avoid being kicked out of the country - and their lawyer has warned police are on their way.

The students are about to seek sanctuary at an Auckland church. The Unite Union supports them.

Their lawyer, Alastair McClymont, asked Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse to cancel the deportation orders, which were issued after it was found the students' India-based education agents submitted fraudulent documents on their behalf.

Student spokesperson Joseph Carolan said they were victims of the immigration machine. They each spent about $20,000 to come to New Zealand. The rogue agent got payment from the school.

Mr Carolan said the sanctuary would send a message to Prime Minister Bill English, who is Catholic, and would speak to his morality.

One of the affected students, Manoj Narra, told Checkpoint with John Campbell the authorities were "not giving any options".

"It's a very painful situation to me ... not only me. There are so many students."

Mr Narra said he borrowed thousands of dollars from his parents to get to New Zealand in an effort to become the only educated member of his family.

He said he knew nothing about the fraudulent documents supplied by his Indian-education agent and dreads going home to start from zero.

Manoj Narra

Manoj Narra Photo: RNZ/ Bradley Ambrose

"They've taken my money... why can't they excuse this?

At the least, Mr Narra wanted to apply for another student visa.

"They are simply saying, I have to go."

Mr McClymont said there was no dispute who was at fault, but rather who would be punished for it, such as Mr Narra.

Meanwhile, the agent continued to work in India and recruit students to New Zealand, he said.

Hundreds affected

Hundreds of students were affected by the fraud. One called it "a nightmare".

Some had limited success fighting deportation. One, Navneet Singh, appealed to the Immigration Protection Tribunal on humanitarian grounds. He was successful, but Immigration NZ were challenging that in the High Court.

Mr McClymont said the immigration department had "no sympathy".

The only criteria to study in New Zealand was to have sufficient funds.

"[Mr Narra] did have sufficient funds, but they were through quite complicated arrangements, with money from various family, which is almost always the case in India."

"We've had dozens who have come to us... trying to fight it."

The students were lured to New Zealand by the promise of being able to work after getting the qualification for up to three years, then when things went wrong, they got the blame, Mr McClymont said.