Jijin Varghese returned to India for an arranged marriage in March, and has been stuck there ever since. Photo / Provided
A postgraduate work visa holder stuck in India appealed to the Government to ease temporary visa restrictions saying he was “out of money and hope”.
Jijin Varghese, 29, returned to India on March 8 for an arranged marriage on March 18 just before borders closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former Rotorua Caltex pump worker believes he and other temporary visa holders will also be able to help address the labor shortage in NZ.
New Zealand will face an acute labor shortage, especially in popular holiday destinations ahead of the summer.
Varghese left New Zealand with a friend who also had to return to India for his father’s first death anniversary – and the two have not been able to return since.
“I left New Zealand with plans to only be away for two months, all my personal belongings including my car are still in NZ,” he said.
“I have no income but still have to pay for insurance and other things in NZ for the last seven months.”
Varghese said he and his friend were among thousands of temporary visa holders with the same story, many suffering from depression and mental health problems.
“Every morning we check the NZ news in the hope that there will be news that the border will reopen for post-study work visa holders, but there is no good news yet,” he said.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi was contacted for comment.
“We are suffering through no fault of ours and the NZ Government shows no mercy to us … I am running out of money and hope,” said Varghese.
Varghese holds a post-study work visa for three years after graduating from the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua.
The government recently relaxed restrictions to allow working holiday visa holders to extend their stay and work in the horticulture and viticulture industry.
Additional seasonal work visas will be automatically issued to those with working holiday visas that expire between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021.
The border has also been opened to hundreds of specialist workers including veterinarians, crew of deep-sea fishing vessels, and mobile farm and horticultural factory operators.
However, the easing does not include the return of temporary visa holders. The hospitality and construction industries are also not included.
New Zealand’s borders are currently closed to all but New Zealand citizens and residents, with a few exceptions.
More than 50,000 New Zealanders have returned home this year since the global pandemic began.