How could this happen?
A routine breast screening has highlighted an immigration pitfall for a North Canterbury woman who says she is now fearing for her future.
It was when Teresa Danson, 46, went for a mammogram a year ago that her immigration status was flagged as illegal. She has lived in New Zealand since 1972, having emigrated from Birmingham in the UK with her parents and two brothers when she was 12 months old.
She went to school in Rangiora until the family moved to Auckland where she attended high school, returning to Rangiora as an adult. Up until last year she had worked, paid taxes, registered with doctors, bought a house and raised three children, all of whom were born in New Zealand.
But the predicament is now preventing her from starting a new job, because she needs to provide a proof of work entitlement, something she has been told she will need to apply to Immigration NZ for, at her own cost. She feels she should not have to incur immigration costs after so long living in New Zealand, and is now very concerned about being told she is not eligible to stay.
‘‘I’m supposed to have started the job. Now I’m being told I need this piece of paper. I just thought I had permanent residency, surely it would have been flagged when I got a tax number or a driving licence?’’
Danson has worked in New Zealand since she was 15, had her tonsils out, sat her NZQAs, received a benefit, secured a mortgage, undergone police checks and been sent to the debt collectors.
‘‘I’ve been involved in the community, with the school,’’ she said. ’’There was no issue until I turned 45 and went for that breast screening. How is it possible that I’ve done all of this and no-one has said anything?’’
Danson’s mother, Eileen Joyce, said she was ropeable at her daughter being labelled an illegal immigrant. She and her husband also hold UK passports, as does her oldest son, who has also served in the New Zealand Army. Her middle son is the only family member to have become a citizen.
‘‘It’s absolutely ridiculous, crazy. I’ve worked here all my life, so has my husband. We’ve paid tax, been in and out of hospitals – no-one’s ever brought this up. Teresa is the only one who has been questioned.’’