Simon Collins is the Herald’s education reporter.

Deported Indian students seek Ombudsman's help as they agree to leave NZ by Monday

The Government rejected an appeal by Labour leader Andrew Little (pictured, right) to lift deportation orders against students who took sanctuary in an Auckland church. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The Government rejected an appeal by Labour leader Andrew Little (pictured, right) to lift deportation orders against students who took sanctuary in an Auckland church. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Eight Indian students facing deportation for immigration fraud have agreed to leave New Zealand by Monday but they are also asking the Ombudsman to review their cases.

Their lawyer Alastair McClymont says the students hope to apply for visas to return to New Zealand from India if the Ombudsman finds that they were not aware that their agents submitted fraudulent bank account details with their original applications for student visas.

The students will be deemed to have been deported, but McClymont said they were "confident that if the Ombudsman finds in their favour then they will have a strong case to make for their deportation status to be re-examined".

They have said that being deported from New Zealand will make it impossible for them to travel to other countries, and will bar them from jobs in major Indian companies.

McClymont said that if the Ombudsman found that the students were not aware of what their agents did he would then ask Immigration NZ to review "all 150 or so students who arrived in NZ and were declined visas or deported".

"A large group of students, including those who were taking sanctuary in the Unitarian Church, are preparing a request to the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Immigration NZ's interpretation of the character waiver process which occurs in visa applications and 'good reason' reviews on deportation liability notices," he said.

"Eight of these students have agreed to depart New Zealand on or before either Sunday, February 26, or Monday, February 27 [depending on flights and travel documents].

"Immigration NZ has undertaken not to detain the students for deportation as long as they depart voluntarily prior to midnight either Sunday, February 26, or Monday, February 27."

He said the students would await the outcome of any Ombudsman's investigation before applying for visas to return to New Zealand.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Stephen Vaughan said he welcomed the news that the students planned to leave by Monday.

He said those students who had been issued with deportation notices would still be subject to the usual five-year ban on returning to New Zealand, and Immigration NZ would consider any future applications on a case-by-case basis as was normal practice.

"The students have had more than ample time to depart New Zealand," Vaughan said.

"A number of the students were formally asked to do so in May last year, and their deportation liability notices have been reviewed twice since then. It is now three weeks since the last review was completed and the deportation decision was confirmed, we continue to stand by those decisions.

"The individuals had fraudulent documentation included with their student visa applications. Applicants are responsible for the information submitted with their visa application, whether they have used an agent or not.

"We encourage anyone facing deportation to quickly arrange their own travel so as to avoid the risk of spending time in custody while flights are arranged for them, along with a financial debt to the New Zealand Government for travel costs."

Nine Indian students were facing deportation in Auckland and two in Christchurch last week. McClymont said he only had instructions from eight of them and did not know what the other three planned to do.

"I suspect this is only one person, though," McClymont said, implying that two students may have already left.

Immigration NZ delayed enforcing the deportation orders after Labour leader Andrew Little appealed on the students' behalf to Associate Immigration Minister David Bennett two weeks ago, but detained one student at his home in Blockhouse Bay on February 15. He was deported to India last Friday.

- NZ Herald

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