19 May 2011

New Zealand visa applicant fighting for residency with child

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A New Zealand visa applicant, who lodged an application for residency of the country in May 2010, is now fighting to remain in New Zealand to be with her two year old child.

New Zealand immigration

A New Zealand visa applicant is fighting to remain in NZ to be with her child.

The New Zealand visa application was made under the family (partnership) policy on the basis of her marriage with her then-husband – a New Zealand citizen, which broke down while the application had yet to be finalised.

The applicant, Indonesian-born Ferisita Sapalia, 28, informed Immigration New Zealand of the changes to her circumstances, and has appealed further not to reject her application and to consider the best interests of her two year-old child, who was born in New Zealand.

An agreement between the parents stipulates that the child will be raised in New Zealand in his mother’s custody while the father will make regular payments for child support. However Ms Sapalia fears that Immigration New Zealand will now reject her application for residency, which would mean her leaving the country with the child, who would no longer be able to have regular contact with his father.
“If we had kept our mouths shut for a few more weeks, chances are I would have gotten my permanent residency - but I thought it was only right to inform them of a change in the circumstance of our marriage” she said. “Now I have put my son in a situation where he could be kicked out of New Zealand with me. I am just totally surprised that Immigration does not take into consideration the best interest of the child. Children with one parent who is a foreigner also face risk of abduction and ransom in Indonesia."

Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson has advised Ms Sapalia that her department will not intervene and that she must take her matter to the Family Court. Her spokesman said: “In all custody-related matters, it's the responsibility of the parents to come to an agreement in light of immigration realities, either between themselves or through the Family Court. The minister can reconsider where circumstances change and new information, such as the opinion of the Family Court, is presented to her."

A decision made last year by the Removal Authority in New Zealand stipulated that the residency of foreign nationals with a child who is a New Zealand citizen will not necessarily have their residency determined by the parent-child relationship. Nigel Bickle, head of Immigration New Zealand has said that having a New Zealand citizen child does not automatically give a parent a right to reside or remain in the country.

Ms Sapalia’s current New Zealand visitor visa expires in August.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with New Zealand immigration applications.

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