Deadline extension relief for family
The deportation deadline for a South African family unlawfully living in Christchurch has been extended for the third time.
Cherie Vermaak, 42, had worked for Christchurch City Council for four years but lost her job in March when her application for a work-visa extension was declined by Immigration New Zealand.
The solo mother of two had to sell her possessions to pay rent, her daughter had to leave Burnside High School and on some nights the family have gone hungry.
Vermaak was told last month that if she could obtain a job offer within six weeks, INZ would consider a subsequent request for a work visa.
Despite 16 job applications pending, her time limit ran out last Friday and INZ said she would face deportation today if she had not secured a job.
However, INZ yesterday confirmed the Vermaak family would not be deported.
"We are working with her adviser who has provided evidence of Ms Vermaak's efforts to obtain an offer of employment. In light of those efforts, INZ has given Ms Vermaak until July 30 to submit an offer of employment," a spokesman said.
New Zealand Immigration and Settlement Services agent Mike Bell said Vermaak had submitted 16 job applications and was "getting some good interest from employers".
As a "highly experienced executive assistant", Vermaak had "great skills" and would be valuable to the rebuild of Christchurch, he said.
He hoped INZ had given her enough time to complete the recruitment process.
Vermaak said the extension was a "great relief".
The family were surviving on community donations.