Indian migrant worker alleges his resident visa application wasn’t correctly assessed

Varun Sharma, an Indian migrant worker who has lived and worked in New Zealand since 2009, has alleged that his resident visa application wasn’t correctly assessed by the authorities.

Varun arrived in New Zealand on a student visa to study a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies.

At the time of applying, he was employed as the restaurant manager at Fox Glacier’s Bigfoot Bar and Restaurant.

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Varun applied for a residency visa under the Skilled Migrant Category in October 2018.

He told TVNZ that the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) declined his application in November 2019 and said:

“Your role does not substantially match the description for a restaurant manager as set out in the ANZSCO [Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations].”

Basically, INZ was not satisfied that Varun was responsible for planning menus, organising events or arranging the purchasing and pricing of goods.

In addition, INZ was also not convinced of his food safety knowledge which is required for the role of a restaurant manager under the criteria listed as per the ANZSCO.

However, that decision was overturned by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in May 2020.

IPT found INZ’s approach as unfair, application not assessed properly and ordered a reassessment.

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This second assessment was declined in October 2020 on the grounds that the restaurant had not made a profit in the last 6 months.

Varun told TVNZ, if his application was assessed correctly in the first place, his situation could have been very different.

“I’m pretty upset because they made a wrong decision and this is not what I deserve.”

The restaurant’s owner Hitesh Talreja told TVNZ that Varun’s application should have been assessed on pre-COVID work experience.

“Using that to refuse his residency was the most unfair thing Immigration New Zealand could ever do.”

A spokesperson for INZ told RNZ / TVNZ:

“If an applicant’s circumstances have changed, such as their employment or the sustainability of their employer, then INZ must assess if this change means the applicant does not meet immigration instructions.”

Varun spent about $15,000 on legal fees to have his application correctly assessed.

His current work visa expires in November and has been advised to leave the country.