25 Jun Ryoko’s Ordeal at the Airport
The plane finally stops at the gate, and Ryoko gets off the plane to retrieve her luggage, full of gifts for her New Zealand friends. She arrives at a long queue for the customs check. Worn out after a long haul flight, She comforts her wearisome mind by thinking, ‘in a few minutes, I will be out of this airport’.
The customs officer checks her passport and says ‘can you please step aside while an immigration officer comes for a few more questions about your trip to New Zealand?’
‘But, I have a work visa here! Why do you stop me?’ she says to the Immigration officer at an interview. Ryoko tells the officer that she has been away from her work in New Zealand for nearly 3 months because her grandma was not well and passed away eventually. She told her that the New Zealand employer agreed to grant her an unpaid leave, and to let her resume her work upon return to New Zealand. The officer calls the employer and confirms that he’s been waiting for Ryoko’s return to work. After all this, the immigration officer’s decision comes like a thunder.
‘Sorry, I will have to cancel your work visa. You will be put on a next available flight back to Japan’.
What went wrong?
It is important to know that having a valid visa does not guarantee an entry permission . An immigration officer may refuse an entry permission to a valid visa holder. On what grounds can they do so? According to s 112 (6) of the immigration act 2009 (“the Act”), the officer may refuse you to grant entry permission if it is reasonably believed that:
• you submitted false or misleading information or withheld relevant information that was potentially prejudicial to the grant of the entry permission; or
• you failed to inform Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) of any material changes in circumstances based on which the temporary Visa was granted.
Ryoko’s misfortune was that she wasn’t aware she had to inform INZ in advance of the changes in her circumstances i.e. being away from work for an extensive period after she was initially granted a work visa.
As per the officer’s advice, Ryoko’s work visa is cancelled , and she travels back to Tokyo.
Upon return to Japan, Ryoko contacts her immigration lawyer who says that she cannot appeal the decision to refuse her an entry permission . However, he says he found in the midst of her misfortune that she could have decision reviewed on the ground that the interview was unfairly conducted .