Deported Indian students appeal for Labour's help

Indian students kicked out of the country are asking Labour if it will allow them to come back now it's in Government.

The students were deported after it emerged their visa documents were forged by dodgy agents back in India, and at the time Labour believed they were innocent.

Ponsonby's Unitarian Church gave the students sanctuary in February in a last-ditch attempt to stay in the country. Now the church is fighting to bring them back.

"We know that they've suffered an injustice," Pastor Clay Nelson tells Newshub.

The students say they were duped by dodgy immigration agents in India, claiming the agents falsified documents without their knowledge. They spent tens of thousands of dollars only to then have the visas withdrawn and have since been kicked out of the country.

One of them, Hafiz Syed, says he's effectively been blacklisted by companies in his home country because he spoke out about his plight.

"Things are not working out for us. We feel like all the doors are being closed for us.

"We don't know which way to go now, and we really can't find any jobs for us now. We're hoping for the justice."

While at the church, Mr Syed was visited by then-Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. Now that she's the Prime Minister he's hoping he'll be given the chance to return to New Zealand.

"I hope they are the people that can think about the common man's issues," Mr Syed says.

The Ombudsman is now looking into the case. A spokesman for the new Immigration Minister says they're waiting on the outcome of that investigation.

The spokesperson says where students can demonstrate they've done nothing wrong, the ministry will be taking a more empathetic view.

Lawyer Alastair McClymont says he knows of about 150 Indian students whose visas have been ruled invalid after coming to New Zealand because of dodgy immigration agents in India.

"The students just want to have the opportunity to argue the case and to be able to prove that they were innocent and that they did not know what their agents were doing on their behalf."

One of those students says he's been in limbo in New Zealand for a year and is waiting for the Ombudsman's decision before weighing up his options.

Newshub revealed last year Immigration New Zealand's office in Mumbai was swamped with hundreds of cases of fraud.

The new Labour Government says it will be taking a closer look at these agencies.


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