S African woman's visa bid declined

18:42, Aug 29 2012
Cherie Vermaak
"DEVASTATED": Cherie Vermaak.

In a case that has been labelled a "travesty of justice", Cherie Vermaak and her children will be deported, because Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have denied her a work visa.

The Press has followed the case of South-Africa-born Vermaak closely since she lost her job at Christchurch City Council in March after her application for a work visa extension was declined.

After months of battling to stay in the country, her struggles appeared to be over earlier this month when her immigration agent, Mike Bell, offered her the job she needed to stay in the country.

However, Bell confirmed yesterday that INZ had denied Vermaak's visa, despite the fact she fitted all the criteria.

"She met all the requirements and rules, it was a real job as an office manager and we proved a suitable New Zealander wasn't available for the role.

"I'm mystified. It makes absolutely no sense."


Vermaak was in an "unlawful situation" when she applied for her visa, so INZ did not have to record a reason her visa was declined.

"Without a reason there can be no official appeal. We have no clue why this has happened. It's always going to leave us wondering why," Bell said.

Vermaak was too upset to speak to The Press.

"She's devastated and terrified there will be a knock on the door any minute of someone to deport her and her children, which there could be," Bell said.

In a last attempt to save Vermaak, Bell was appealing to Associate Minister Kate Wilkinson to intervene.

"We're asking her to look at the case and see if there has been a severe miscarriage of justice, which we believe there has been, and make an exception. She is the safety net and last chance for people like Cherie who slip through the cracks."

If the appeal to Wilkinson failed, Vermaak would be deported to South Africa, where she had "no-one and nothing", Bell said.

She had no money to pay for flights, so the cost would be met by taxpayers.

"Cherie has no money, she spent it all on living costs while she's been fighting this. It's going to cost the taxpayer thousands to deport her when if they let her stay here and work she'd be contributing. It makes no sense.

He was hopeful Wilkinson would revoke INZ's decision.

The Press