Another Fiji sport team faces NZ visa woes

- Posted in New Zealand by Visa Bureauon 11 December 2008

The travel plans for Fiji's under-20 touch football team will be put on hold until they have their New Zealand visas approved to play at the World Junior Championships next month.  

The government has a policy of denying a visa for New Zealand for anyone with connections to the Fijian military, who staged a coup in 2006 to overthrow the then Fijian government.

Fiji Touch Association President Inoke Veresa said the touch football players would have to wait for the pending decision from New Zealand immigration officials before naming the final 30-man squad.

The touch football team was not the only Fijian sporting congregation affected by New Zealand's strict visa regulations.  This month, the Fiji Football Association asked for help to get transit New Zealand visas for their national Under-20 football team after they were rejected by the New Zealand Embassy in Suva.  However, according to Radio New Zealand, the New Zealand Immigration Service has granted a temporary waiver of the immigration regulations denying the team a transit visa for New Zealand.

The team is looking to travel to Tahiti for the Oceania U20 tournament next month, via New Zealand. 

A formal request from the Fiji Football Association and the Oceania Confederation to the immigration Department that challenged their decision to deny the team a visa for New Zealand succeeded.  The team can now transit New Zealand for the occasion.

The Fiji FA President, Doctor Sahu Khan, said the outcome proves the New Zealand government is committed to maintaining a clear distinction between sports and politics, and that the decision to allow the team to travel through New Zealand has saved his association USD$32,000.

The Fiji team will be facing New Zealand in the first match of the tournament later this month. 

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.