Singh awaits 'final decision'

Former Marlborough vineyard contractor Prubhjit Singh says he is not leaving New Zealand yet, despite being ordered to leave by Immigration New Zealand last week.

Mr Singh has been battling with Immigration New Zealand to gain a new visa since his work visa expired in 2008. He appealed to the ombudsman in 2009 and continued working illegally in New Zealand until last year.

In November last year Immigration New Zealand sent him a letter telling him he had until February 14 to leave New Zealand or face being deported and in January Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem released a provisional decision backing Immigration New Zealand.

However, speaking to the Marlborough Express yesterday Mr Singh said he was still in Blenheim and was not planning to leave New Zealand until the ombudsman had reached a final decision on his case.

"I have heard nothing from Immigration New Zealand. We have submitted our comments to the ombudsman's office and we're waiting on the final decision."

His wife and their two sons, aged 23 months and 3 months, are New Zealand citizens and it would be unfair splitting up the family, he said. Documents from Immigration New Zealand show Mr Singh has had several run-ins with the department.

His student visa was revoked just months after he arrived in New Zealand in 2002 for not attending his approved course of study, a Bachelor of Information Technology at Wellington Institute of Technology.

In 2005 he was ordered out of the country and banned from returning for five years, although that was later overturned because of his wife's status as a New Zealand resident, and because they were operating a vineyard contracting business in Marlborough, where there was a labour shortage.

In October 2008 his visa application was denied because he was facing charges of aiding people to work in the country illegally.

Mr Singh lodged a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman over visa denial in September 2009, and has continued to work illegally since then.

In 2010, he was found guilty on six charges of unlawfully aiding Indonesian ship jumpers to work in New Zealand. He said it was unfair that immigration officials had denied his visa application in 2008 before he had the chance to go court.

The Marlborough Express