4 Jul 2018

Husband can stay, wife must go, immigration says

7:41 am on 4 July 2018

By Sally Rae for the Otago Daily Times

She is a nurse, he is a herd manager on a Taieri dairy farm and has a commerce degree.

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Herd manager Harrie Chander can stay in New Zealand but Immigration New Zealand wants to send his wife, Pawandeep, a nurse, back to India. Mr Chander works for Taieri farmer Mark Adam (also pictured). Photo: Otago Daily Times / Stephen Jaquiery

But Harjinder (Harrie) and Pawandeep Chander's future together is in jeopardy as Mrs Chander faces deportation to India.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has deemed her husband's employment ''lower skilled'' and declined her application for a work visa.

With the support of Mr Chander's employer, Mark Adam, the couple are fighting for her to stay in the country they have grown to love.

Yesterday, as they prepared to seek legal advice, the quietly spoken couple admitted the shock news was distressing and stressful.

Moving to New Zealand for a better life, Mr Chander, 28, worked in the kiwifruit industry before answering Mr Adam's advertisement for a dairy-farm worker.

He came to Woodside with only a small bag and no knowledge of the industry but had a great attitude, Mr Adam said.

''Everyone that comes here likes Harrie.

''I'm quite happy to leave him to run the farm and go and do other things.''

Each year, Mr Adam was frustrated he had to readvertise Mr Chander's position - which was a requirement - so he could get a work visa.

No applications were ever as good as his, he said.

In December 2016, Mr Chander wed Mrs Chander (24) in an arranged marriage in India, which was attended by his boss.

She came to New Zealand in August last year and Mr Chander never thought it would be a problem for her to stay.

A letter from INZ dated 22 June said Mrs Chander's application for a work visa - partner of a worker - received on 28 March had been declined.

A previous letter in May explained concerns she might not be eligible as her partner held an essential skills work visa.

Further information, including letters of support, was submitted by the couple but INZ was not satisfied.

An interim visa granted while awaiting a decision on the work visa application had expired, meaning Mrs Chander was unlawfully in New Zealand, as of 24 June, and liable for deportation. She could appeal on humanitarian grounds within 42 days.

Late yesterday, a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman said a response would be provided to the Otago Daily Times today.

Mr Adam said the couple were both skilled workers and wanted to live in New Zealand.

It seemed immigrants were not wanted in the country, yet there were plenty of people needing dairy-farm workers, he said.

A key aspect of the recent revised DHB multi-employer collective agreement for nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants was $38 million additional funding to provide immediate relief for acute staffing shortages.

Last year, the government announced a new policy to provide a one-off pathway to residency for about 1600 migrant workers and their families who have been living in the South Island for more than five years.

Those eligible were granted an initial work to residence temporary visa, which made them eligible for residency after two years, provided they stayed in the same industry and region.

They would then be granted a resident visa, with conditions requiring them to stay in the same South Island region for a further two years.

With Mr Chander being out of the country for three months, he was 70 days short of the required five years' residency and his application was declined.

He did not want to leave; his dream was ''just to be a farmer''.

''We will try once more,'' he said.

One possibility was for Mrs Chander to return to India and reapply, while completing the requirements to work as a nurse in New Zealand.

This story was first published in the Otago Daily Times.