South African family relieved as deportation revoked

17:00, Sep 14 2012

After months of fearing imminent deportation, South African Cherie Vermaak has finally been told she will be allowed to stay and work in New Zealand.

Vermaak told The Press last night Associate Minister Kate Wilkinson had stepped in and revoked Immigration New Zealand's (INZ) decision.

She had been granted a 12-month work visa and would stay in New Zealand and work as an office manager for her immigration agent, Michael Bell. Her two teenage children had been given student visas.

Vermaak said the news was "surreal" but that she was "hugely relieved".

"After this long struggle it's such a relief, but the enormity is really only starting to sink in. Now, we can finally start to get our lives back on track."

Her children were equally pleased at the news. "I could see the stress just drain off their faces as I told them."


Vermaak lost her job with the city council in March after INZ declined an application for an extension on her visa.

The family would celebrate with Bell and his wife, Tammy, with whom they had been living since being asked to move out of their flat.

"They have been so good to us and we will have a tiny celebration.

"It's been a really long haul but the support from everybody has been amazing," Vermaak said.

Bell said Wilkinson's decision was a "fantastic result".

"We are absolutely delighted with such a fast and compassionate response which has certainly helped uphold the integrity of New Zealand's excellent immigration system and reduce the suffering experienced by this family who now have an opportunity to rebuild their lives."

The Vermaaks would continue to stay with the Bells while they "recover financially".

Wilkinson's office and INZ declined to comment.

The Press