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Thread: A cautionary tale

  1. #1
    MotherBear's Avatar
    MotherBear is offline The missing link
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    Default A cautionary tale

    Immigrants get the boot after spending $1m on dream
    By TONY WALL - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 15 June 2008

    A British couple who came to New Zealand to live their dream of running a farm are being booted out of the country after a nightmare experience with an "incompetent" Immigration Service.

    Roger and Alison Schenn estimate they have spent about $1 million upgrading a formerly dilapidated farm near Wellsford, north of Auckland, but immigration officials say the business is of no benefit to New Zealand and have refused to grant them permanent residency.

    The couple, from Norfolk, have until Thursday to leave the country and will fly out that day. They have exhausted all avenues, having appealed to the Residence Review Board and made four requests for ministerial intervention. They contacted the Sunday Star-Times after reading of cases where residency was granted when officials pulled strings, including for the Kiribati family of former Immigration boss Mary Anne Thompson.

    "We didn't know anybody who could pull some strings - that's the difference," Roger Schenn, 54, said.

    The Schenns received Overseas Investment Commission approval to buy the farm in 2002 and bought it for $560,000 in 2003. At the time, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) granted them long-term business visas. It was an exception to policy as they did not have experience in farming, but the visas were granted on the basis they would be "rejuvenating a poorly performing New Zealand business".

    The couple set about doing just that, transforming a struggling farm with only 30 cattle to a successful operation with more than 100 beef stock, plus 60 heifers. They have had the farm valued at over $2m.

    They say they made a large capital investment, removing gorse and weed, doing pest control, installing a water supply and adding fertiliser to increase stock numbers. They employed local contractors for haymaking, fertiliser spreading and mechanical work.

    In November 2005 the couple applied for residency under the entrepreneur category, but INZ was "not satisfied that the couple's farming business met the . . . policy with respect to the criteria that the business be of benefit to New Zealand. It was also unclear whether or not Mr Schenn had actually been running the business for at least two years".

    Alison Schenn, 51, said the officer who dealt with their case seemed confused about the dates they had been on the farm. They had returned to England for a time when her mother died, but had been on the farm continuously for two years when they applied for residency.

    She said the officials seemed incompetent, as they all gave different advice. The couple did not use an immigration consultant as they did not want to have to pay thousands of dollars in fees.

    "If I had my time again I'd use one. If we had, we would have got in," Roger Schenn said.

    His wife said: "We love New Zealand, everyone has been so supportive, but there is something not right, it all needs looking at."

    The couple have transferred the farm to Roger's brother, who has lived in New Zealand for 25 years, and have vowed to fight on once they get back to Britain.

    An INZ spokesperson said there was no guarantee of permanent residency given when the couple entered the country and this was made clear in a letter sent to them when their visas were approved.

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    Mother Bear

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  2. #2
    1happywoman's Avatar
    1happywoman is offline Senior Member
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    I do hope the publicity helps this couple. Not only have they invested a lot of money, but I imagine they have put in a lot of "sweat equity" as well. Seems like someone at the Department of Immigration needs to get off their well cushioned behind and go see what this couple has actually done. How they can say there is no evidence this business is beneficial to New Zealand is beyond me.

    This is so stupid, I can't believe it isn't happening in the US! I thought only absolutely idiotic things like this happened here.
    Last edited by 1happywoman; 16-06-2008 at 02:57 AM. Reason: edited for clarity
    Arrived in Auckland on August 6, 2008.Now live in Kawakawa with my kiwi partner.
    I just started working at Bay of Islands Hospital at the beginning of December 2009.
    Work permit renewed and good until June 2010
    EOI submitted and selected, case manager assigned and ITA received. PR application submitted 28/08/09
    approved in principle 26/01/10, PR granted and received 19/03/10

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