Many migrant families are celebrating the Government’s a one-off residence pathway visa offered to roughly 165,000 migrant workers and their families stranded here through the pandemic.
But for Kajal Chauhan, 28, wife of a New Zealand resident Shiv Kapoor, her battle is against deportation after Immigration New Zealand declined her visa for failing to disclose a traffic offence she committed in 2019.
Chauhan was told in an email, which she received last Wednesday, stating her last-ditch attempt for a visa under section 61 of the Immigration Act after she overstayed her visa has been declined.
“If you do not leave New Zealand voluntarily you will be liable for deportation,” the email said.
Chauhan married her husband Shiv Kapoor, a New Zealand resident, on October 22, 2020, in an arranged marriage. They had their wedding party in Tauranga a week later with about 120 guests.
She then applied for a partnership work visa with Immigration New Zealand on November 16 that year.
But the visa got declined because INZ said Chauhan had a traffic offence which she did not disclose in a previous visa application and therefore did not meet character requirements.
Chauhan, who first came to NZ in July 2016, said she was driving home to Auckland from Huntly in September 2019 and had exceeded the speed limit.
She pleaded guilty to the charge, provided a letter of apology and regret, and got disqualified from driving for six months and fined.
“I did not try to hide this information to Immigration NZ, but it was just something that just slipped my mind when I made the application,” Chauhan said.
Chauhan said she provided the information to her immigration lawyers and it was they who failed to include it when making the applications.
After five years here, Chauhan said her ties are now with New Zealand and that she would not be able to take being apart from her husband.
She has already lost her grandparents to Covid-19 in India, and her father had recovered from the virus.
Kapoor said they are trying everything and willing to do anything they can to remain together in New Zealand.
“It feels so unfair that we are being so severely punished and have our future totally destroyed just because of a small mistake,” he said.
When making an application, applicants are required to declare that all information that they have provided is true and correct, and are warned of the consequence of providing false and misleading information.
Nicola Hogg, INZ’s general manager border and visa operations, said people applying for a visa must declare whether they are under investigation by a law enforcement agency in any country or have a criminal conviction.
“People with certain criminal convictions or who have provided false or misleading information will generally not be granted a visa unless a character waiver is granted,” she said.
Chauhan arrived in New Zealand in July 2016 on a Student visa and in July 2017 and 2018 was granted post-study work visas.
“On 22 October 2019 Ms Chauhan was convicted of driving a motor vehicle at a dangerous speed,” Hogg said.
“On 6 July 2020, Ms Chauhan applied for an Essential Skills Work visa, and declared that she did not have any criminal convictions.”
However this visa was declined because she did not provide information to establish there were no other NZ citizens or residents to do the job.
Chauhan said she was unable to return to India at the time due to the Covid-19 pandemic and INZ “took an empathetic approach” and granted her a visitor visa to remain, Hogg said.
Chauhan’s conviction was not known to INZ at this stage.
On November 16 last year, she applied for a partnership visa and again declared that she did not have any criminal convictions.
“During the processing of this application, a police check was obtained, which identified the conviction,” Hogg said.
“She therefore did not meet the requirement to be of good character, both due to the conviction, and the false and misleading information provided in two visa applications by stating that she did not have any convictions. A character waiver was carefully considered on the individual merits of Ms Chauhan’s case, however a waiver was not granted.”
Chauhan became unlawful on August 4 when that visa was declined, and a request she made under section 61 was also declined.
“We empathise with the difficult situation Ms Chauhan is in, however she is able to make a new request under Section 61 if she has new information to support her request,” Hogg added.
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