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Family hit hard by not following proper immigration procedure


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Not reading the 'fine print' when migrating could prove extremely costly as was discovered by this South African family in New Zealand. Below is their story as reported by the New Zealand Herald of 9 March 2006. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cf...jectID=10371751

Family's paperwork delay ends their life in NZ 09.03.06

Failure to notify immigration authorities about a job change has cost a South African family the chance of a new life in New Zealand.

Gavin Penfold thought he was doing the right thing when he belatedly notified immigration authorities of a change in his place of work. But his tardiness resulted in his permit being revoked, his residency application rejected and his family branded as overstayers. Now Mr Penfold and his family wait - boxes of belongings at the ready - for immigration authorities to come for them.

"It's scary," he said. "You almost feel like you are in trouble with the law. "We have anxious moments every time there is a knock on the door. They can come at any time and take us away."

A spokesman for Workforce - a branch of the Department of Labour - said Mr Penfold was no longer welcome in this country and for the good of his family should return to South Africa. Service delivery group manager Graham Baker last night told the Herald Mr Penfold waited too long before notifying the department of his work-permit variation.

Mr Penfold - with wife Lorinda and children Tristan and Michene - arrived in Whangarei in December 2004 to take up a position at a motor vehicle dealership. He had a valid work permit, and after about six weeks moved to a position with an Auckland car dealership.

But Mr Penfold later learned he should have notified immigration authorities of the change to his working conditions. After speaking with a consultant, Mr Penfold alerted immigration to his predicament, and also applied for residency. But his application was rejected on the grounds he had admitted a breach in his work conditions and was working in New Zealand illegally.

Now he has no work permit, his wife and son's visitor's permits have been revoked, and his daughter's student visa has been rescinded. Mr Baker said the variation request was received about 10 months after the Penfolds moved to Auckland. That was too long, for the department's liking, as the permit only allowed him to work at the Whangarei dealership.

"[but] the reality here is that [Mr Penfold] then moved, of his own volition ... then worked for what looks like 10 months without telling us. "He applied for a work permit after the fact." Mr Baker said it was up to the department's "border security group" whether the Penfolds faced immediate, forced deportation.

The shadow of deportation has thrown the family into confusion. Tristan, 5, has already started school in Auckland, but if forced to return to South Africa will have to wait until he is 7 before he can continue his education. "Everything that we do, we are uncertain about it," Mr Penfold said.

"We try to keep the kids out of it, but they can obviously feel the tension of the household." Mr Baker said he appreciated the child's plight, but said it would be "much better" for Mr Penfold and his family to return to South Africa, then reapply to enter New Zealand.

"The reality is this man now really does need to go back to South Africa, removing himself from the unlawful status that he has."

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There has been a lot of public reaction to this with the absolute majority feeling that the family made a mistake but should stay. This has not quite yet made national news but talk radio in Auckland and surrounds are abuzz and staging interviews with the family themselves, Immigration specialists, current and previous employers.

The family is obvious under a lot of stress but still hopes for a positive outcome. According to all the 'experts' somebody with such a great track record could be snapped up by companies in other countries but they indicated that they either stay in NZ and fight or if they lose simply return to SA and accept.

Immigration specialists reason that the Immigration Department was too stringent with the rules. The problem for this family is that it is bering compared to the Ahmed Zaoui case (still ongoing) who was imprisoned for 2 years (as a refugee but now out on bail) but still considered to be a potential risk to NZ. This by the way is obviously BIG news in NZ for the past 3 years for various reasons.

Also lately several Samoans and East Europeans have been deported recently after overstaying. The Penfolds are now considered as overstayers.

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It must be difficult for NZIS as they need to be hard on the bad guys, but also be seen to be fair. I am glad I am not in their shoes on this one. More importantly, I am glad I am not in the SA families' shoes, they have it all to loose if they have to return. My heart goes out to them.

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