12 Dec 2012

Immigration NZ stops Indian migrant workers' return

11:49 pm on 12 December 2012

Immigration New Zealand is being accused of needlessly stopping eight Indian migrant workers from coming back to New Zealand after returning to India for the annual Diwali festival.

Lawyer Alastair McClymont says his clients, who have work visas, were due to return a month ago but are being held up for no good reason.

He says the men were stopped at an airport in India.

Mr McClymont says the men had been in India for more than four weeks in order to not only celebrate Diwali but to negotiate arranged marriages.

He says Immigration New Zealand is investigating whether the extended leave period was authorised, because most employees do not get such long breaks.

Mr McClymont says the matter could be resolved by a 30-second call to the employers, who all granted the extended leave.

But he says it has taken longer than a month and the workers' jobs are now at risk, because the employers can't keep them open indefinitely.

A barrister providing advice to the workers says the situation should raise a red flag for anyone with a work visa.

Dr Frank Deliu, head of Auckland's Amicus Barristers' Chambers, says there is no official requirement for how long someone can spend overseas.

"Anybody who has a visa in New Zealand, who's built a life here, that just goes back home for whatever reason, for holidays, for a sick family member, or whatever, they run the risk when they get back to the airport to come back here, to their house, to their partner, to their lives here, that they may be told sorry, you can't come back, you've been gone for too long."

Dr Deliu says an interim injunction is being sought against Immigration New Zealand, with the case expected to be heard in the High Court at Auckland next week.