A Balclutha meatworker says a clerical error may be responsible for the looming "heartless'' deportation of his disabled wife.
Failing an 11th-hour intervention, on Saturday wheelchair-bound stroke victim Firoza Begum, 57, will leave her grown-up children, grandchildren, and her beloved South Otago home of 12 years, as she complies with an order from Immigration New Zealand .
Husband Mohammed Kalim, 63, moved from Fiji to Balclutha in 2007 to take up skilled work as a halal butcher for Silver Fern Farms, at its Finegand processing plant.
The following year he was joined by Begum, and their then-teenage son - now 26 and also working at Finegand.
In 2016, Begum suffered a severe stroke while working as a deli assistant at New World Balclutha. Kalim's income was sufficient to pay for the couple's modest needs in the years that followed.
Initially in 2016, he was concerned Immigration NZ might refuse their annual working visas, due to his wife's new medical status.
But all seemed well as visas went on to be renewed, without pause, in both 2017 and 2018.
However, Kalim said this year "disaster'' struck, although seemingly through no fault of their own.
"I made our applications together as I always do, but by about March this year, I noticed only my visa had come through.
"We were just waiting as there had never been any problem during the past 12 years.
"But when I contacted Immigration, I received an email from our caseworker saying they had 'forgotten' my wife's application."
Matters went from bad to worse when Kalim followed up.
"They told me Firoza no longer met the health requirements, and would need further medical tests before they could decide on her visa.
"What had changed all of a sudden? We just couldn't understand it."
The medical tests were unsuccessful, and a deportation notice subsequently issued.
Begum requires a wheelchair and takes daily medication for her cardiovascular and brain health.
She is unable to move or speak fluently, and requires daily care.
This is provided by a 45-minute-a-day funded carer, and by Kalim himself.
Neither one of the pair receives any other benefits.
"All we can think of is that Firoza unintentionally became an overstayer due to the error in delay and, because of that, has somehow also changed in status regarding her health.
"We've always done everything right, by the book, and as we've been asked. And now we're just so worried about Firoza's health having to fly on Saturday."
This had led to additional stress for the family, said daughter Farina Shah who, in 2012, moved to Balclutha from Auckland to be closer to her parents.
Shah expressed deep concern about her mother's departure.
"We just don't know what the stress of flying will do to mum. Everyone in the family is beside themselves. My daughter Farheen, 9, is asking why Naani and Naana [grandma and grandpa] have to leave home.
"It just seems heartless."
Immigration NZ was contacted by the Otago Daily Times, but was unable to respond at the time of publication.