06 August 2008

Indian runaways in NZ have days to go

The remaining Indian pilgrims who went missing en route to Sydney's World Youth Day celebrations have only a few days validity left on their visas, reports the Sindh Newspaper.

In July, 40 of the 220 Indian nationals went missing after they landed in New Zealand for pre-World Youth Day travel opportunities.  The pilgrims were apparently sold visitor visas for New Zealand by fraudulent migration advisors in India when they believed they were buying residency visas.  All forty absconded after realising they had been mislead and left their belongings with their host families.

New Zealand Immigration and local community organisations have been trying to locate the Indians because after this week their visitor visas will no longer be valid and will mean they are remaining in the country illegally.  The pilgrims were granted special visitor visas which allowed them to holiday in the country for one month only.  A New Zealand visitor visa usually allows international visitors who are not part of the visa waiver program to holiday in the country for up to three months, provided they can prove financial sustainability for the entire period. 

So far, four of the missing have returned home to India, five have applied for student visas, and three for visitor visas.  A spokesperson from the Department of Immigration said, “it knows the location of about 20 of the other 36 Indian nationals and is working with the Indian community, its own networks and the Indian High Commission to locate the remaining 16.”

According to the Federation of Ethnic Councils, many people are using New Zealand as a back-door entry to Australia.  However, results also show from the Longitudinal Immigration Survey that 92.5 per cent of migrants in New Zealand are either satisfied or very satisfied with their new life in the country, and that 83.5 per cent of migrants plan to stay in the country after their residence has been approved.


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.


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