Immigration refuses entry after bid to visit relatives during gap year raises suspicions of her wanting to work.

A teenager who flew to New Zealand for a family visit was refused entry after immigration officials ruled that a plan to spend time with her pre-school niece meant she would be working illegally as a babysitter.

Javiera Opazo Garcia, 19, had planned to spend a gap year before university travelling and visiting family in New Zealand after she missed the enrolment dates for university in Chile.

Instead, she spent about a day in the transit area at Auckland Airport before being sent home after concerns were raised about her arriving in New Zealand with just US$100 ($146). Visitors are meant to have $1000 for each month here.

In an interview with an Immigration NZ border official, Ms Opazo Garcia said she was to be supported by her sister during her stay. She chatted cheerfully in response to questions about her niece, saying she had hopes of spending a couple of hours a day with Ariel, 3.


Her optimistic chatter about holiday plans cost her dearly. In a video of the interview, Ms Opazo Garcia is told her plans "in terms of looking after your niece meets Immigration NZ's definition of work".

Asked if she has any comment, Ms Opazo Garcia said: "It is not something I have to do. It's not my obligation. I do it because I am family."

Concerns later raised by Immigration NZ included Ms Opazo Garcia's plan to leave New Zealand seven months after first arriving when a tourist visa allowed visitors three months. Criticism about the longer stay paid no heed to booked holidays to Singapore and the Pacific showing she would have spent time outside New Zealand on other trips during the seven-month period.

The rejection was followed by a second attempt to come to New Zealand, through a sponsored visa application made from Chile.

It required her sister and brother-in-law, Marilo and Sam Harpley, to sponsor Ms Opazo Garcia, providing personal and financial information to show she would be supported during her visit. This was also refused.

The double refusal has infuriated the Harpley family - even with a fresh review by Immigration NZ this week which offered a limited visa if a new application was made.

Ms Opazo Garcia said the trip was never intended to be anything other than a break before university which allowed her to keep up family ties by staying with the Harpleys, their daughter Ariel and Sam's parents, Kim and John Harpley.

"I am extremely upset and angry that Immigration New Zealand see me as a person of not good character when I know that I am a good person with good, honest morals and I don't tell lies," Ms Opazo Garcia told the Herald. "I am also sad because, does this now mean that I can't visit my sister and niece in their own home?"

Kim Harpley, who complained to Immigration NZ, said the visit came after Ms Opazo Garcia's family had hosted the older Harpleys on an extended stay in Chile this year.

She said any additional childcare needed for Ariel was already handled by her and her husband. She said Ms Opazo Garcia's openness should have been seen as a sign of honesty and not a reason to remove her.

Immigration NZ area manager Michael Carley said there were concerns Ms Garcia was "likely to breach the conditions of her visitor visa by working without authority". He said she had arrived without enough money and told officials she planned to be in New Zealand for seven months when she was able to stay a maximum of three months.

"In addition, it was felt she had a lack of incentive to return to Chile because she had no assets there, was unemployed and was not studying."