Lived as a Kiwi since she was 1; now she might be kicked out

Taranaki Daily News - - News - EMMA DANGER­FIELD

"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?" Teresa Dan­son

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 not be­ing le­gal. 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 New Zealand (INZ) for, at her own cost.

She feels she should not have to in­cur im­mi­gra­tion costs of $110 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?’’

She said her new em­ployer was kindly hold­ing the job for her, but she only had a few days to sort things out other­wise she would face hav­ing to lose the job. She has been told the im­mi­gra­tion process could take up to six months.

Dan­son has worked in New Zealand since she was 15, had her ton­sils out, gained qual­i­fi­ca­tions, 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 her daugh­ter had been la­belled an il­le­gal im­mi­grant when the fam­ily had lived in New Zealand for such a long time. She and her hus­band also hold UK pass­ports, as does her old­est son, who has 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.’’

INZ area man­ager Mar­celle Fo­ley said un­der the Im­mi­gra­tion Act 1987, cit­i­zens from the UK were ex­empt from the need to hold a visa to travel to, or hold a per­mit to be in, New Zealand.

This was the case up un­til April 1974. If a per­son did not hold a visa or a per­mit, they would not ap­pear in the INZ sys­tem and would need to ap­ply for res­i­dence con­fir­ma­tion.

It was dif­fi­cult to be spe­cific with­out know­ing all the facts, how­ever Fo­ley said if a per­son had never amassed a debt in re­la­tion to med­i­cal as­sis­tance, or ap­plied for NZ su­per­an­nu­a­tion, then proof of res­i­dency may not have been asked of them yet.

Dan­son has ap­proached her med­i­cal cen­tre to try get her New Zealand Health num­ber in a bid to clear things up, but said a re­cep­tion­ist told her they were now look­ing into her el­i­gi­bil­ity too.

She has turned to her lo­cal MP to help fa­cil­i­tate a po­ten­tial in­terim so­lu­tion so she can start her job. Fail­ing that, she said she had nowhere left to turn.

‘‘I just can’t be­lieve it, I don’t know what to do. I’m be­ing made to feel like I sud­denly don’t be­long.’’

PHOTO: EMMA DANGER­FIELD/STUFF

Teresa Dan­son has lived in New Zealand all her life but has just been told she is an il­le­gal im­mi­grant.

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