A family with a young child is being deported from New Zealand after using fake addresses to claim food vouchers during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.
Jeffrey Pinlac, 31, alongside his partner Marjorie Aguilar and their 7-year-old son, were issued deportation notices late last year, which they appealed.
A recently released tribunal decision declined this appeal, saying Jeffrey claimed and used $1600 worth of food vouchers he was not entitled to during April's COVID-19 lockdown.
In September, he was convicted of using a document for pecuniary advantage and was sentenced to $1600 reparation and 150 hours' community work.
The food vouchers were meant to help people who were not eligible for Government subsidies.
The Santos family say Jeffrey's offending was caused by his ignorance over the law, and would not reoccur.
"The offence occurred during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown period when his income was halved, and he was desperate to provide for his family," reads the tribunal decision.
"The husband and the wife deeply regret the husband's offending."
Appealing on a humanitarian basis, the Santos' said returning to the Philippines would end their dream of living in New Zealand.
"They will return to a very uncertain, deprived and health-endangered life in the Philippines. COVID-19 is raging, employment in their region is virtually impossible to obtain, and the social fabric is unravelling."
But the Tribunal says these were not satisfactorily exceptional circumstances to grant the appeal.
"The appellants have lived in the Philippines for most of their lives and are well familiar with the language, culture and lifestyle there," it read.
"The husband has worked there as a carpenter (an occupation with readily transferable skills), and his experience should assist him to find employment in the Philippines again. Both the husband and the wife have their parents and siblings living in the Philippines, and so should have at least emotional support there."
The family's deportation has been delayed by three months to allow them time to get their affairs in order before leaving the country.