An Indian national widowed after her husband drowned at Waimarama Beach in January will petition to stay in New Zealand after her work visa was cancelled.

Hemin Limbachiya, 26, drowned at the popular swimming destination after he and his wife, Tanvi Bhavsar, were caught in a flash rip and swept out to sea on January 14.

The tragedy struck just weeks after the pair married in India and ended Bhavsar's hopes of a future in New Zealand.

The Indian nationals had made the country their home, living here for several years before moving to Napier in 2016.


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They were in the process of applying for permanent residency when Hemin died and as he was the principal applicant Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has since declined the application.

Currently in India, she will land in Hawke's Bay this Friday on a three-month visitor visa and use this time petitioning to remain in the country.

Her brother Prashin Kumar said Bhavsar was facing "cultural persecution" in India as those outside her close family considered her responsible for her husband's death.

"To put it in simple words because Hemin was heroic and went in to save Tanvi in our culture it has become that Tanvi is the reason Hemin died. She is pretty much [seen as] a husband killer or an inauspicious person."

They intended to take her case to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT), the last avenue available before they were able to request ministerial intervention, he said.

"Before this unfortunate incident happened their residency application was more than half the way through.

"By now both of them would have had their residency but because of that unfortunate incident they [INZ] have just gone black and white, saying Hemin is no longer employable so it is no longer valid. It's pretty blunt."

Prashin Kumar (left) and Rahki Prashin (right) hold a photograph of the couple on their wedding day in India. Photo / Warren Buckland
Prashin Kumar (left) and Rahki Prashin (right) hold a photograph of the couple on their wedding day in India. Photo / Warren Buckland

Bhavsar was advised her work visa under partnership, which was dependant on her late husband, had been cancelled in February.

She didn't hold a resident visa so a variation of travel conditions was not an option and she applied for a nine-month visitor visa but INZ only approved a three-month visit.

Yesterday INZ manager Stephanie Greathead reiterated the organisation's condolences to Bhavsar for her loss.

She confirmed INZ took into account all of her circumstances before the decision was made to decline her residence application under the skilled migrant category in March.

"Unfortunately, INZ was unable to award any of the points that Ms Bhavsar's husband had claimed as a result of his death and as he was the principal applicant there was no other option but to decline the application."

"INZ assessed whether Ms Bhavsar met the criteria for any other residence category but she did not do so."

Kumar said the process had been stressful but added he had high hopes of obtaining a favourable result for his sister.

"We have high hopes that either the IPT, and if the ITP doesn't do an investigation then the minister, will make a decision that is favourable to Tanvi because that is the right thing to do considering she could have got residency had Hemin been alive."

Tukituki National MP Lawrence Yule said he felt a great deal of sympathy for Bhavsar and believed she had a strong case to stay in New Zealand on compassionate grounds.

"I feel quite confident this will be resolved but we do need to follow the process required."

Napier Labour MP Stuart Nash said it was a tragic case, adding he would give some thought about what advice to offer and how to progress her case through the most appropriate channels.

"I understand the case is still some way off a direct appeal to the Associate Immigration Minister. It is important to take time to look closely at the circumstances and legal processes still available."