Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 7. 1965.
'Yankee Go Home'
'Yankee Go Home'
A Minor immigration official playing at God almost succeeded in preventing an American student from continuing his studies at Vic this year.
The American student, Frank Stone, entered New Zealand on a six-month tourist visa and came to study at Vic for one year. This six-month visa was not going to be renewed when he applied recently, although he had been assured by the New Zealand Embassy staff that such a visa was renewable merely on application.
Instead of his visa being practically automatically renewed as expected, the Department of Labour immigration division officer said "he was not prepared" to extend Stone's visa for another six months thus leaving him only a few days to quit university and get out of the country.
Visas to United States citizens are issued under reasonable circumstances for periods of six months for tourists and students and are renewable for another period of six months. The general policy for visa renewals is that an extension may be granted "if good reason" can be shown, and "each case is considered on its own particular merits."
This appears to mean that each case is considered on its own facts with no set policy guiding what "good reasons" are for extensions. There is also supposed to be provision for extension for another six months when the visa has been extended once already, but the wording of the immigration officer's letter does not give any room even for applying for a further extension should it be wanted—apparently no matter what reasons are given.
It was only after some considerable persuasion that Stone was able to persuade the clerk to reconsider his case. Having paid his varsity fees, and being well into the year, his position was such that it would be disadvantageous for him to have to leave his studies when he had been assured that he would be able to get a visa to cover the university year.
When Stone's case was condescendingly reconsidered, he received a letter from the immigration officer, who said that "he was prepared" to extend the visa on the condition that Frank Stone had a paid passage booked out of the country by December 15.
The letter, as may be seen, used hostile and almost insulting language, typical of which was the ending which said, "I should make it clear to you that a further extension beyond December 15 will not be granted." Although the department has now renewed Frank Stone's visa, it took them about six weeks to do so, and by that time the original six-month visa had expired, which could have caused some embarrassment.
'an official playing at God'
Perhaps the most enlightening sidelight to come out of the contents of the letter was the section that said "you should also complete the enclosed form Lab. Imm 38 and return it to this office.'' Firstly, an identical form had already been filled in and sent to the department and, secondly, there was no form enclosed with the letter!
It is possible that the writer was so intent upon his choice of words that the form was left out. On further application, the required form was received some weeks later, complete with a note pinned at the top of the form saying "With the compliments of the Department of Labour"; nice, and also efficient!
The letter was signed "for the Secretary of Labour" and we are left to wonder (a) If similar official letters are always written in this manner to all overseas visitors who apply for extended visas?
(b) If there is no check against such authoritarian letters being written by seemingly over-eager regulation-conscious public servants?
(c) Just how much red tape and official interference are overseas visitors expected to have to put up with?
Obviously, cases like this one must lead only to the worsening of New Zealand's image overseas, as it is very likely that the Immigration Department officials will be some of the only public servants tourists are likely to meet. Visitors will judge the country on such incidents.
Also, if a person applies for a visa in his own country and is assured that it is almost a formality to have that visa extended, such a policy should therefore be adopted here by the Immigration Department to limit unnecessary embarrassment. If New Zealand is hoping to develop a tourist industry then there should be another look at the way in which overseas visitors are treated and addressed once they are here.—F. D. Finlayson.
Editorial Comment—Page 6