Victory nigh in South African's battle to stay

20:25, Aug 14 2012
Cherie Vermaak
MEANT TO BE: South African immigrant Cherie Vermaak, centre, with her future employers Mike and Tammy Bell, of New Zealand Immigration and Settlement Services.

After months of battling to stay in New Zealand, Cherie Vermaak has secured the job that could save her from deportation.

In a strange twist, employment has come in the form of a role at an immigration company.

Vermaak, 42, worked for the 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 (INZ).

Since then, the South African has been fighting to stay in the country.

In a final extension, INZ gave her until July 30 to find employment or she and her children would face deportation.

Her struggles appear to be over.


Vermaak's immigration agent, Mike Bell, and his wife, Tammy, have offered Vermaak the job of office manager at their business, New Zealand Immigration and Settlement Services (NZISS).

Bell has been working pro bono on her case since reading about it in The Press.

Vermaak said it was "amazing" to have a job sorted.

After advertising the office manager role, Tammy Bell said, they were concerned that none of the applicants had the right skills.

“Then we received an application from Cherie, whose skills were absolutely perfect. It feels like it was meant to be," she said.

The job was pending a final decision from INZ, where Vermaak's work visa was still being processed. She hoped to hear back from INZ this week.

Bell and his wife launched NZISS, a not-for-profit immigration consultancy, in June. Yesterday, they opened the doors to their new office on the corner of Manchester and Worcester streets.

The Press