Indian students offered return deal

Indian students at the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby may now be able to reapply for student visas...
Indian students at the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby may now be able to reapply for student visas from India. Photo: NZ Herald

Nine Indian students who had been facing deportation have been offered a deal that would let them reapply for student visas after returning to India.

Their lawyer Alastair McClymont says Immigration NZ has today offered them a deal which means they would have to leave the country but may not be labelled as being deported.

"INZ has undertaken not to deport this group of students before 22 February. This temporary restraint on compliance action is to enable negotiations to take place and an agreement reached,'' he said.

"INZ is now willing to negotiate terms that would enable the students to re-appy for student visas in India. This would not have been an option if they had been deported or had already departed.

"Negotiations are currently taking place regarding their deportation status, bans on re-entry and the manner in which character issues are addressed in future applications.

"However, INZ has indicated that the voluntary departure of this particular group of students is not up for negotiation.''

McClymont said Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse was in Auckland today meeting with Indian immigration advisers, but had "refused to engage directly with the groups, lawyers and unions representing the Indian student victim, to discuss the wider issues relating Indian student visas and fraudulent unlicensed agents based in India''.

The students have been in the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby since Waitangi Day in the hope that immigration officers would not enter the church to detain them. But a tenth student was detained when he went to his home address on Wednesday morning and was due to be deported the afternoon of Friday febuary 17.

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