'Please let us stay in New Zealand', says family being deported to Ukraine

4:22 pm on 13 March 2019

An Auckland restaurant owner from Ukraine is pleading with MPs to stop her and her family from being deported in July.

La Vista owner Nataliya Shchetkova.

Nataliya Shchetkova has been told to sell the business and to leave the country by July. Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

Nataliya Shchetkova, her husband and three children came to New Zealand six years ago on a long-term business visa and started up the restaurant La Vista in Auckland.

Their business visa is due to expire on 1 July and their application for permanent residency has been declined by Immigration New Zealand, who said the family should make arrangements, including selling the business if necessary.

Ms Shchetkova appeared before the Education and Workforce select committee to ask that MPs convince the associate immigration minister Kris Faafoi to grant their family a special direction visa.

"It is in your power to convince the minister to provide the special direction for our family. We ask for your support.

"Please let us stay in New Zealand and we promise you we will continue to work hard to contribute and to be proud of the country as our home."

She said it made her want to cry thinking about going back to the Ukraine, which is at war with Russia, and she was especially concerned for her five-year-old twins who were born in New Zealand.

"They haven't seen any other country just New Zealand and I couldn't imagine them to be in such an unsafe and unfriendly environment as Ukraine is at this moment."

She said the uncertainty was also stressful for the 30 staff members - 17 of those full time - that La Vista employs.

Her lawyer Linda Clark told the select committee that Immigration New Zealand had made an administrative error.

Their visa application was made under the initial business that they were going to buy, but the family ended up buying a restaurant that seated half the number of people, Ms Clark said.

"They provided the financials as they were requested to do - they were also informed that they didn't need to file a change of plan proposal which would've been the different milestones they were measured against."

"They relied in good faith on the advice they were given by the official but that advice actually turned out to be incorrect."

In February, a formal request was filed to Minister Faafoi asking him to use his discretion to grant the family a visa, Ms Clark said.

ACT Party leader David Seymour had also set up a petition asking Parliament to urge the Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway to intervene.

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