Immigration fight

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Sparks are flying over Immigration New Zealand’s decision to expel a Brazilian Queenstowner with a three-week-old baby.

Motel cleaner Rafaela Amaral was declined a work visa because INZ is not satisfied her employer was “complying with all relevant employment and immigration law”.

INZ area manager Dave Campbell says: “It appears that she has not always been working the 30 hours per week guaranteed under her contract.”

Amaral alleges Melbourne Lodge owner Ravinder Kumar Arora regularly gave her fewer than 30 hours’ work and was unhelpful when applying to renew her visa in September, submitting wrong information.

“One-and-a-half months before I had my baby, all of this situation was really stressful,” Amaral says.

But Aucklander Arora and his wife Anuradha dispute that.

Anuradha says Amaral did normally work about 30 hours per week – “sometimes it was 29.5, 29.75, sometimes 35, sometimes 27”.

“She was on the roster all the time,” Anuradha says. Her husband adds Amaral was also sent home if she was unwell during her pregnancy.

They claim they did everything they could to help her visa renewal.

On December 1, six days after giving birth, she was told by Immigration NZ her visa was being declined, and she’d be unlawfully in NZ from the next day, if she didn’t appeal.

But before they can leave NZ, Amaral and partner Jefferson Silva, who was working as a chef, have to fly to Wellington to get a passport for baby Noah.

Now, new local National MP Hamish Walker, who’s also been helping a Queenstown Sri Lankan family facing deportation, has got involved.

He’s assisting Amaral.

“This family is in a terrible and stressful position through no fault of their own,” Walker says.

“I am going to do everything within my power to not let the few rogue operators in Queenstown get away with taking advantage of vulnerable staff on my watch.”

Employer Arora was in the news two months ago for allegedly paying an Indian migrant worker only $7 an hour, and owing him more than $80,000 in unpaid wages. That was a “just a misunderstanding” Anuradha says, which has been sorted out.

Previous Melbourne Lodge owner Cis Walker, who employed Amaral before selling the business in May, says she spoke to Amaral’s Immigration NZ case officer for more than half an hour, “explaining that it was not her fault, that it was the fault of her employer who didn’t fill her application out properly and didn’t give the necessary information”.

She believes her former cleaner’s been treated “absolutely appallingly”. And she says she’ll shout the family’s airfare back to Brazil.

“I have to pay for it because she doesn’t have any money.”

scoop@scene.co.nz