An Auckland based Indian mum-daughter duo is delighted after Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi had agreed to extend their visas on compassionate grounds.
The distressed mother Neisha Tandon was clueless on how to remain legitimately in New Zealand along with her school-going teenage daughter after her husband passed away on December 20, 2017 - halfway through immigrating to the country.
“I have decided to grant you a twelve-month open work visa and Chehak [the daughter] a twelve-month student visa, under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009, subject to health and character,” the letter from the office of Associate Minister said.
Expectedly ecstatic with this outcome, Ms Tandon was speechless when first received the news.
“I had no words to express my happiness.”
“It just feels like we have been given a second chance to rebuild our lives,” an emotional Ms Tandon told the Indian Weekender.
The life story of Neisha Tandon, the wife of 32-year-old Atul Tandon who passed away on December 20, 2017, while here on a work visa, was at the risk of turning upside down with her precarious visa situation, when the Indian Weekender last reported (https://www.indianweekender.co.nz/Pages/ArticleDetails/7/9309/New-Zealand/Mum-clueless-on-how-to-keep-her-and-teen-daughter-in-NZ-after-husband-passes-aw)
Ms Tandaon with her husband Atul Tandon during earlier happier times.
With little or no support from friends and family, either here or back in India, Ms Tandon was facing a grim situation where she had literally nowhere to go back, if not given a chance to resurrect her Kiwi-dream.
Ms Tandon had then told the Indian Weekender, “We saw New Zealand as our biggest hope when we first arrived here in 2014.”
A hope that came crashing with her husband’s sudden death!
In Ms Tandon’s case what was more compelling that she had a teenage daughter from an earlier failed marriage, studying in New Zealand, who identified herself as a Kiwi and saw New Zealand as her home.
Ms Tandon was on a spouse-dependent work visa, which was due to expire in August 2018, and working full-time at Z Gas Station, whereas their teenage daughter studied in year nine in One Tree Hill College on a domestic student visa at the time of Mr Tandon’s death.
Earlier the family had arrived New Zealand with the long-term goal of studying, working and finally settling in the country in order to rebuild her life after a failed marriage and escape from the social stigma attached to that back home.
Therefore, leaving New Zealand was not an option for Ms Tandon.
In desperation to resurrect her visa situation, which was partner dependent, she consulted a licensed immigration adviser, who rightly sought for visitor visa for the mother-daughter duo from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), with a plea that it will give time to them to sort out their lives.
Although technically correct, it seems compassion was missing, or little thought was given, in this immediate solution sought from the INZ.
As a three-month visitor visa, for a mom-daughter duo, who have recently struggled to arrange for husband’s funeral, would in no way have brought any respite, or even given some breathing space to them to plan anything else.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) had initially approved the daughter’s visitor visa for three months, which expired on March 19, whereas the mother’s initial visitor visa application is still pending with them when she first spoke with the Indian Weekender.
Since then Ms Tandon had been scrambling for help from immigration lawyers, community leaders to different politicians.
However, toward the end, she filed the request with the office of Associate Minister Kris Fafoi, along with a support letter from the Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman.
To which the Minister after due consideration had given approval for visa extension for twelve months.
“If you and Chehak are granted visas I suggest you use this opportunity to explore your options for further visas under the relevant instructions. If you do so it will be up to INZ to assess whether you should be granted,” the letter from the office of Minister Faafoi said.
Ms Tandon understands the significance of this and is committed to do everything under her control to not miss the bus again.
“I am definitely going to use these twelve months in a manner which leads to positive and favourable results for both of us.
“I might take study visa if needed,” Ms Tandon said.