Christchurch attack: Two widows who lost their husbands one step closer to being granted residency

Two widows whose lost their husbands in the Christchurch terrorist attacks are one step away from being granted New Zealand residency. 

Their expressions of interest to stay in the country were originally declined as they were not in New Zealand on the day of the mosque shootings. 

Sanjida Neha is coming to terms with life as a solo mum. The 21-year-old gave birth to a baby girl in Christchurch five months after her husband Mohammad Omar Faruk was killed in the terrorist attacks.

"They've really lost the most important individual in their lives," immigration lawyer Haseeb Ashraf told Newshub.

Faruk came to New Zealand about two years before he was killed in the shooting.
Faruk came to New Zealand about two years before he was killed in the shooting. Photo credit: File

At the time of the shooting Neha was planning to move permanently to Christchurch from Bangladesh to join her husband  - instead, she travelled to the city on the news of his death.

"It was not only my wish," she told Newshub. "It was my husband's wish as well. 

"We wanted to give my child a better life."

Rina Akhter had similar plans.

"We were in the process of coming here," she said. "Obviously this was something which was already planned."

Both applied for the Christchurch Response Permanent Resident Visa. They were declined, as the pair weren't living in New Zealand on the day of attacks

The women teamed up to fight the decision - and on Monday night, eight months later, are one step closer to being allowed to stay in New Zealand permanently. 

"A special direction has been granted and now we will follow through with the residency process," Ashraf said.

A special direction can only be issued by the Immigration Minister. It's a waiver for special circumstances, and once this is granted, a formal application for residency must follow. 

"This Government has always said that a compassionate approach will be taken," Ashraf said. "These widows are quite appreciative."

Immigration New Zealand is prioritising Christchurch cases in an effort to help victims who were caught up in the terror attacks.