A woman trapped in Afghanistan while New Zealand authorities have withheld her passport for three years, asks for help.
Documents show that you were in the final stages of obtaining a visa under the refugee quota family reunification category in mid-2019, but Immigration New Zealand (INZ) was delayed and will now not give you a visa due to Covid restrictions. -19, and has simply rejected her on humanitarian grounds.
“Tell me, what should I do with my life? Should I give up? [on] Life? ”The Avada * woman told RNZ, through her cousin Mina * in New Zealand.
“Please ask immigration not to leave me hanging.”
Authorities said they withheld his passport since August 2018 in part because the mail was unreliable, but they had agreed to return it now, without a visa.
His attorney Angela Smith of Community Law Waikato said it was “outrageous.”
As a woman, and a Hazara minority, without the proper documents, she was running a “huge, huge risk.”
“We want that residency visa granted to her and at least then we will have the opportunity to try to get her that passport, get her across a land border,” Smith said.
‘The Taliban almost killed Mom’
Mina said Avada fled her home when the Taliban seized the Afghan capital in August, was turned away at the Kabul airport among many others who tried to leave, and then tried to cross the border into Iran.
Others succeeded, but without a passport, she did not; Mina told RNZ that the driver of the minibus transporting the women at night was captured and killed by the Taliban.
Avada said the Taliban nearly killed his mother and beat his sisters.
“Mom called the other day. The Taliban almost killed Mom, they beat my two sisters, they are just teenagers.”
She herself was fleeing a violent and forced marriage to come to New Zealand.
“It is dangerous to stay there longer,” Avada said.
“All this that happened to me is for this case. I am destroyed, I risked my life for this.”
Two years ago, he had already passed all the necessary medical and security checks, and had a DNA test done to prove the family link to the former refugees he planned to live with here.
INZ told him in September 2019 that it had “submitted the application for a second person check … recommending approval.”
That never came.
“He really should have been out of Afghanistan long before our borders were closed,” Smith said.
INZ said in a statement that it “unfortunately” did not process his application on time.
Since Covid-19 arrived, it has been processing, but not deciding, visa applications abroad.
I was “hoping” to end the Avada app soon after I started making decisions again, whenever that was.
Avada tried another tactic in August, requesting a ‘border exception’ on humanitarian grounds, to allow for a critical purpose visa.
INZ told him: “We are not satisfied that you meet the requirements.
“We appreciate that this is an extremely difficult and uncertain situation for you. The government continues to work on other options to support the humanitarian effort.
“The New Zealand Government is deeply concerned about the rapidly deteriorating situation … and we understand that this is a very difficult and traumatic time for Afghan citizens,” but the aim was to evacuate the Afghans who had assisted the Forces of New Zealand Defense.
Smith said all of his critical border visa applications were rejected in refugee-related cases.
INZ visa and border operations general manager Nicola Hogg said in a statement that “the bar for humanitarian border waiver requests is very high.”
Smith said he couldn’t think of a more deserved case. “She is a single woman … she is without her passport as she is here in New Zealand.”
Hogg acknowledged that INZ had withheld the woman’s passport for a “significant time.”
Passports needed a physical visa stamp on them, so it was sometimes kept on them to avoid “a lengthy process” of mailing back and forth.
In Avada’s case, he had a passport “for an extended period of time, as he currently resides in Afghanistan and the mail service may not be reliable.”
Community Law is seeking judicial review early next month on behalf of 70 clients regarding INZ’s stance not to make decisions on overseas visa applications.
Avada told her cousin that she was desperate and that she felt sick. He said that other people he knew had obtained visas for other countries.
“Do you know how bad my situation is? Do you know if I can’t find anywhere to go? What is my fault? Why is there no adequate answer?”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was contacted for comment, but the Prime Minister’s office referred this to Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.
- August 2018: Immigration NZ obtains the woman’s passport and application for family reunification
- February 2019: a caseworker begins requesting information before March 20, but only on that date Immigration sends the lawyer a copy of a crucial document; Immigration grants an extension, in part due to the impact of the mosque attacks on clients, including those abroad.
- June: Immigration tells the woman’s lawyer that the national security verification processes are out of her control, but she continues to “monitor them on a daily basis.”
- September: Confirmation of the family link was received through a DNA test, all security checks were completed. Case Officer Recommends Approval
- January 2020: Delays mean Immigration is beginning to question the circumstances of the woman’s sponsor.
- March 2020: Covid-19 closure
- June 2020: Immigration says it is still awaiting approval from a second case officer and warns that Covid has put applications on hold.
- July-August 2021: the Taliban take over Afghanistan; woman runs away
- September 1, 2021: Immigration rejects a woman’s visa request on humanitarian grounds
- November 3: Hearing of judicial review requested by Community law
* Avada and * Mina change their names to protect their identity.