Time running out on US family's forced departure

6:03 pm on 10 July 2017

A US family being forced to leave the country will leave behind valuable investments, their business partner says.

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Steve Jensen's family has to leave New Zealand because they missed a target attached to their visa. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Steve Jensen and his family came to New Zealand in 2013.

They moved to Lower Hutt where they bought a cafe, and a half share in the building that housed it.

But they missed financial targets set by Immigration New Zealand and are ticking off the days until their enforced departure on Friday.

A last ditch appeal has been submitted to associate Minister for Immigration Scott Simpson, who is not commenting except to confirm it is on his desk.

The Jensens' deportation has been contrasted with the citizenship granted to the American billionaire Peter Thiel, who only had to spend 12 days in the country to get it.

Despite already shutting the cafe, selling their home, booking tickets and sending a container off to the United States, Mr Jensen said he and his wife and four children still wanted to stay.

Mr Jensen's business partner, Mark Ogden, said he was pinning his hopes on a reprieve from Mr Simpson.

Mr Ogden said if it did not come, Mr Jensen would leave a $500,000 investment behind in this country.

That is for his share of a two-storey building in Lower Hutt, though Mr Ogden said it would probably be worth more now.

He said if Mr Jensen left on Friday as planned, the American would have to try to get a lease signed and would collect the rent from abroad.

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Steve Jensen's cafe in Lower Hutt Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

A cafe that he ran would have to stay shut unless a buyer could be found for it.

Mr Ogden said there had to be a better way.

"If someone could make a call on this before the family has to leave the country on Friday - that would be the ultimate solution," Mr Ogden said.

"The longer a business is closed the more difficult it is to retain your goodwill and local support."

Mr Ogden said the Jensen family had massive local backing.

"The evening that we had here the other night when they were leaving, there were sports coaches and the kids' teachers and there was a massive swell of support from the community."

He said if the family did have to leave on Friday then it would be good to have a chance for them to come back later.