31 October 2012

British miners granted New Zealand visa reprieve

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A pair of British coalminers who faced almost certain deportation after a New Zealand visa technicality have been granted a reprieve by Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson.

New Zealand visa

The two coal miners have been granted New Zealand visa extensions to find alternative employment.

Jason Brown and Mark Pointon had moved to New Zealand almost two years ago to take up lucrative positions with a state-owned mining company. However, just three months short of gaining permanent residency, Solid Energy announced they would be made redundant, leaving them in violation of the terms of their New Zealand visa.

The two men, originally from Yorkshire, were granted visas under the condition that they were employed by Solid Energy in positions earning at least NZ$55,000 (£28,000) a year, this meant that they could not seek work elsewhere and faced the prospect of deportation.

After appealing to Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn for assistance, Mr Kokshoorn demanded Solid Energy take account for their actions and promised to take the miners' case to the prime minister's office.

The case has escalated to the office of Ms Wilkinson, whose office has since informed the pair that they will be granted a visa extension provided they find alternative employment, any alternative employment, within six months.

Vicky Blyth, communications general manager for Solid Energy, welcomed the decision to extend the men's visas but stopped short of apologising for causing their predicament.

"We're pleased we've been able to get this result and that the minister and Department of Immigration have been very responsive," said Ms Blyth.

"We hope [Mr Brown and Mr Pointon] are able to secure alternative employment, if they want."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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