Editorial: Bad taste to chef's case

17:00, Jul 04 2014

You have to feel for Fijian chef Ravindra Naidu.

» Chef's long wait in bid to stay in NZ

And wonder at the inflexibility of Immigration New Zealand.

Short version of the story.

Naidu worked as a chef in Fiji, cyclone hit, work dried up, so he looked elsewhere. Sister lives in Timaru, so he jacks up a job at the RSA.

All good.


Except the hours being offered and pay rate aren't enough to support him, his wife and two children.

Should he have realised this before coming? Probably.

But he didn't, so he discussed his visa with the RSA, and between them they interpreted that the wording "he MAY work at the RSA" suggested he could also work elsewhere.

And as Timaru is short of chefs, it wasn't hard for him to find a fulltime position. The RSA supported him.

When the job was confirmed Naidu did the right thing, he contacted Immigration. And it told him to stop work immediately because he hadn't filled in a Variation of Conditions form.

A form Naidu says he was unaware of.

Five months of to-ing and fro-ing followed, during which Immigration said Naidu could reapply for his visa, but then declined it because he had breached his previous visa.

It ordered him out of the country.

He's appealing against this, which is fine, except there's a backlog of cases, and it could take nine to 12 months for his to be heard.

So Naidu now has two choices. Go back home to his wife and children and a still dicey job market, or stay with his sister until his hearing but not work.

In a town crying out for his skills.

OK, Immigration has a job to do, and it can't be easy. It must get some people really trying it on. And if the department believes it made it clear that Naidu must inform it if his circumstances changed, it would seem convenient for him to say he was unaware of that.

But why would he then contact Immigration himself? If he was trying to hide, he wouldn't have done that.

Naidu doesn't seem to be anything other than he appears - a man with skills trying to provide for his family.

Despite whatever misinterpretations or missed documentation there was, surely a couple of hours contacting the relevant people could have established the facts and his work visa could have been altered.

Instead a proud man is in limbo for a year, not able to provide for his family (now back in Fiji), and indeed, having to be provided for by his sister.

Things aren't right here at all.

The Timaru Herald