Auckland (Kanwalpreet Kaur Pannu)
"We are in a feeling of great sorrow. Our life is ruined. Please call us back", Offshore-stuck Jagdeep Singh Dhillon's call to NZ Government.
An offshore stuck temporary visa holder, Jagdeep Singh Dhillon, said, "We are stuck in India since March 2020 because the NZ government did not allow temporary visa holders to return while imposing the border closure conditions." Jagdeep's wife holds a post-study work visa, and he is on an open work visa. They lived in New Zealand for five years, and their work visa is expiring in September 2021.
The couple planned a one-month trip to India in February 2020 because their family from India were excited to see their three and half-month-old daughter, who is now nineteen months. "I took my annual leave and departed New Zealand on February 21, 2020, and the return ticket was on March 24, 2020. I never expected that this trip would leave us in limbo. I can't express how I felt when I first heard that temporary visa holders couldn't return to New Zealand. It was not expected from the NZ Government because we only went to see our family." In addition, New Zealand was the only source of income for them.
He further expressed that life has become such a mess, and it is now getting hard to manage the expenses. "We had a rental house at 6A, Atkinson Avenue, Papatoetoe (2025), Auckland, where we paid $530 rent every week. Since there was no income, it became difficult to pay the rent. So, I requested the real estate company for the rent exemption, but they declined my request. Therefore, we had to vacant the place in June.", said, Jagdeep.
While explaining his financial situation, he told us that he has a car loan, mobile plan, car insurance in New Zealand, and he used his savings to pay the instalments. However, he has nearly no savings left. He also told us that all their belongings like furniture, electronics, car, original documents, clothes, etc., are in Newzealand. His situation is very stressful, and it is getting hard to manage family and financial stress. He said, "His wife cries every day and night; their situation is very stressful."
They applied for the border exemption nearly ten times, but it got rejected every time. In addition, like many other offshore stuck temporary visa holders, Jagdeep also emailed Immigration about their situation, including explaining his daughter's health, but he did not receive any positive reply.
Jagdeep described the offshore stuck temporary visa holders as "Around 600-700 temporary visa holders are stuck in India; their visa categories are post-study visa, student visa, partner's visa, and low-mid skill visa. Unfortunately, it seems like the New Zealand government has ignored us. We understand the covid situation, so we waited patiently for nearly sixteen months. It was a shame to see the Government allowing people with special privileges to enter New Zealand, but not the people who held valid visas to travel to New Zealand. Many have written to the Minister of Immigration, the Prime Minister, the Indian Embassy in NZ, Immigration New Zealand, but unfortunately, we could not get a clear answer till today. Our situation is getting worse day by day. We have sleepless nights."
It is to be noted that these post-study work visa holders have spent tens of thousands of dollars on their studies in New Zealand. They were attracted by the NZ immigration policy, a post-study work visa, and a potential pathway to residency.
Below are some of the factors which Jagdeep wants the NZ government to consider:
We are not asking to open the borders. We hold NZ Valid visas, and we should be allowed under special circumstances.
We will follow the MIQ rules and are ready to give our undertaking.
We understand the COVID risk and are ready for the Corona test; we will only enter the country if the test report is negative.
If cricketers, actors, singers, nannies, sportspersons, fishers, ambassadors, entertainers, or others can come, why are we not allowed? Why are differences being held only with open work visa holders when seasonal workers are also allowed.
There are spaces available in the MIQ's, so why can't we are allowed.
Our request to New Zealand immigration is to extend the visas for those whose visas are already expired or expiring soon. In addition, all kinds of temporary visa holders who could not return due to borders restrictions should be extended.
We are in a feeling of great sorrow. Our life is ruined. Please call us back.