Back in July 2012 I wrote about the Vermaak family’s plight in facing deportation.
Since that first story there has been a huge amount of silent work behind the scenes, but now it’s time for an update as a final decision has been made on their fight to stay in NZ. This update includes a brief recap of the situation.
March 2012 – Work Visa Declined
Cherie had been working for the Christchurch City Council for 4 years in a skilled occupation but ran into trouble when she needed a new Police Certificate to arrive from South Africa.
With her work visa due to expire she needed this certificate to put in an application to renew her visa. Unfortunately South African certificates can take several months to arrive and the immigration department (INZ) refused to wait for this.
The decision by INZ meant that Cherie found herself in a very difficult situation very quickly. Without a valid visa she lost her job and only source of income despite backing from her Council boss. Being unlawful in New Zealand she and her two children were subject to deportation. Zelda who was 16 year old at the time was also no longer had the right to go to school.
May 2012 – First Media Story
This is where Tammy and I became aware of the situation and decided to get involved. The family was now without a source of income and, as temporary visa holders were not entitled to any kind of benefit or financial assistance. Imagine having no way get or earn money, no way to ix your situation.
In an incredibly short space of time they were in a desperate situation, being forced to sell their possessions to buy food and facing eviction from their home. When we first met the family they did not know which way to turn – running out of possessions to sell and in real danger or being thrown out onto the streets.
Thankfully the media attention generated a wave of support for the family which held off their eviction for a short time. The New Zealand public were fantastic!
I went to work to help where I could. First jobs were talking to the Ministry of Education to get Zelda back into school and asking the immigration department to hold off deportation action to give the family a little more time.
June 2012 – Facing Eviction
The amazing support generated by the New Zealand public helped for a short while but soon ran out and the family found themselves facing eviction with no money and no way to get any.
We couldn’t allow them to become homeless so Tammy and I opened our own home to the family of three and their cats Fluffy and Peebles.
It was a tight squeeze with our family (which included four cats), but they stayed with us for four months until they were able to get back on their feet.
October 2013 – Ministerial Intervention
Cherie had a job offer but INZ were unwilling to grant a visa so Mike took the case to Hon Kate Wilkinson, then Associate Immigration Minister. The first great break-through for Cherie and her children came when the Minister agree to Mike’s request and overturned INZ’s decision, granting Cherie a visa to work.
This involved about 500 hours of pro-bono work for the family, but put them in a position where once again Cherie could work her way out of this terrible situation. Cherie and her children have had a harrowing two years and just needed that chance. Once Cherie was able to start work she became eligible for residence again and we worked with her to lodge an application.
The Final Update
It has not been plain sailing – there have been serious ups and downs for the family – but we are thrilled to report that this week Cherie, Kyle and Zelda were granted New Zealand Residence. This means they no longer need to fear deportation and can finally have hope and security for the future.
Cherie has asked us to update all of the people whose support and generosity made such a difference to this family during such a difficult time.
Cherie, Kyle and Zelda wanted to thank the hundreds of people both locally and from around the world who were there for them in so many different ways. The family is now looking forward making long term plans for their new life in Christchurch New Zealand.
Tammy and I are catching up with Cherie next week for a celebratory curry :o).
I am really delighted with this result. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and this is why migrant advocates are so badly needed – to give a helping hand at the right time.
Migrant advocate | Licensed Immigration Adviser
This story has been followed through the media, here are a number of the news stories written.
- 12/05/12 – Family lives in fear of deportation.
- 23/05/12 – South African family gets last chance for immigration(video);
- 23/05/12 – Hard wait for South African family in ‘limbo’;
- 24/05/12 – South African family offered help;
- 15/06/12 – Two weeks till deportation for S African family;
- 18/06/12 – Immigrants get help adapting to Christchurch (video);
- 29/06/12 – S African family’s deportation looms;
- 04/07/12 – Deadline extension relief for family;
- 15/08/12 – Victory nigh in South African’s battle to stay;
- 11/09/12 – Eviction blow adds to visa woe;
- 12/09/12 – Boss backs woman facing deportation;
- 15/09/12 – South African family relieved as deportation revoked.