17 July 2008
NZ Immigration Service to meet Indian Sikh Society about missing pilgrims
New Zealand officials are still searching for the missing 39 Indian pilgrims supposedly on their way to Sydney for this week’s World Youth Day. New Zealand immigration officials will be meeting with local Sikh community leaders on Wednesday to discuss the situation, reports One News.
A spokesman from the Sikh Society has been in contact with some of the pilgrims, and says they have involuntarily become part of an immigration scam. The visitors were granted 30-day New Zealand visas but it is believed they unknowingly paid up to NZD$15,000 to illegal agents in India for New Zealand emigration.
220 Indian Christians were granted special one month New Zealand travel visas so they could include the country in their pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Sydney. Most visitors to New Zealand do not need to apply for a visitor’s visa to the country, if they are a citizen from a country that is part of New Zealand’s visa waiver program and intend to stay no longer than three months. India is not part of the visa waiver program, and therefore Indian tourists are usually required to obtain a visitor’s visa. The visitor’s visa to New Zealand is a nine month visa that is valid for a period of 18 months.
Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.