The residence case of a couple taken on by the minister

A Brazilian couple, whose advisor forgot to apply for residency, has taken their case to Parliament in the hope of guaranteeing the right to remain in the country.

Associate Immigration Minister Chris Penk initially declined to review the case, but after being approached by RNZ, a spokesperson said he had decided to reconsider the couple’s case due to “new circumstances”.

Newton and Nubia Santos paid thousands of dollars for the advisor to submit their Single Resident Visa 2021 (RV2021) application. However, due to staffing issues, they forgot to process the request.

The couple took the case to Parliament and started a petition calling for a review of their case.

In two days, the petition accumulated more than 2,400 signatures.

Santos said they wanted to be a voice for other people who might be going through the same situation.

“We immigrants know how important it is to stay in a country where we have lived for so many years and fought to stay and become part of the community.

“It is very frustrating and exhausting to go through all of this because of the failure of a licensed person who was paid to do their job. No immigrant deserves to go through this.”

The other option

Santos and his wife currently have work visas that expire in September.

The single residency route in 2021 would have given them cheaper access to education and public services, as well as the ability to seek or pursue other career opportunities.

Immigration NZ recommended the couple apply through the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Residence Visa as an alternative.

This category applies to those who currently work or have a job offer from an accredited employer and qualify for 160 points for their skills and work in the country.

Points can be earned by meeting various requirements, such as earning high wages or having qualifications for jobs on the skilled immigrant list.

However, the couple’s attorney, Ana Martins of Fisher Foley, said they did not qualify.

“Newton and Nubia did not meet the 160 point threshold for residency in the skilled migrant category in March 2023. Newton’s initial assessment returned 170 points.

“Despite a review in October 2023, Newton still does not meet the new criteria, which requires a high and sustained income for three years. His representative’s efforts to clarify Newton’s ineligibility were ignored by the person responsible for the takeover. of decisions.”

He expressed concern about the consistency of decisions made in cases like this.

“It has come to our attention that another applicant, in a similar situation, was granted residency through a decision made by the decision maker on behalf of the Associate Minister.

“We wonder how many other cases were decided differently than this one and we want to understand the reasons behind these discrepancies.”

‘Support, not punishment’ – Green Party

Green Party immigration spokesman Ricardo Menéndez March supported Santos’ request and said Penk could do more.

He wrote to Penk in March requesting intervention into the couple’s visa circumstances.

“I implore you to reconsider Newton and Nubia’s application for residency in New Zealand. Granting them residency would rectify the injustice they have faced,” the letter said.

Penk declined to review the case.

“A previously delegated decision-maker declined to intervene in this case, and it is not the minister’s intention to review such cases, except in the unlikely event that there has been a significant change in circumstances,” he said in an email to Menéndez. March. shared with RNZ.

Ministers could intervene to grant visas at their discretion, Menéndez March said.

“Chris Penk has the opportunity to make things right for people who have been failed by the immigration system and advisers. Ministers regularly intervene to grant people visas and make exemptions from requirements.”

Immigration NZ should explore creating an “established” residency pathway, he said.

“So we don’t have situations where the system can so easily rule out people who have lived here almost a decade.

“People who have been failed by the system deserve support, not punishment.”

The minister intervenes

After RNZ approached Penk, in a statement a spokesperson said it had decided to reconsider the couple’s case due to “new circumstances surrounding the application”.

They gave no details, only saying that any decision in any particular case was made solely at Penk’s discretion.

“Under the Immigration Act, (the minister) is not legally required to give reasons for any decision made.”