Christchurch mosque attack victim Sazada Akhter’s sister, left, is one of three family members waiting for ministerial intervention to get visas to stay and help care for Akhter, who is now paralysed.
Forty-five people affected by the mosque attacks have been granted special residence visas after Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway intervened.
Eighteen families made requests for ministerial intervention for residence, 11 of which were granted. Two were declined, and the remaining five are yet to be decided.
One of those is the family of Sazada Akhter, 25, who can no longer walk after being shot in the chest and abdomen at the Al Noor Masjid on March 15.
Her husband, Mohammed Mashud, said they were waiting to hear from the minister about whether his brother, and Akhter’s sister and brother-in-law could stay in New Zealand to help care for Akhter.
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Mashud needs to work, but Akhter now needs constant care. They both already had permanent visas.
The family are living in a motel while they wait for a permanent, wheelchair accessible home.
Ministerial intervention is the next step for anyone not eligible under the Christchurch response special visa category – set up in April for those affected by the March 15 mosque terrorist attack – or those who had their application declined.
Two Bangladeshi widows – Rina Akter and Sanjida Neha – are preparing an appeal to Lees-Galloway for intervention, RNZ reported.
Akter’s husband, Zakaria Bhuiya – who was killed on his 35th birthday at Al Noor – was in New Zealand on a working visa while Akter waited in Bangladesh.
Akhter then came to New Zealand on a visitor’s visa hoping to build a life here, but had her residency application turned down. She has been told to leave in December.
She lives with Neha, who also had her residency application declined following the Christchurch attack that killed her husband, Omar Faruk, 36.
She gave birth recently in Christchurch to a daughter.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) received 59 applications for permanent residence under the new category, and 37 applications involving 72 people have been approved, operations support manager Michael Carley said.
Three groups qualified, all of whom had to be living in New Zealand at the time of the attacks.
These included families whose immediate family member died, those injured in the attacks and their immediate families, and anyone at one of the mosques at the time of the attacks and their immediate family.
Twenty-one were still being processed and one had been declined.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway wanted to extend permanent residency to a greater number of Muslim family members after the mosque shootings, but could not get the plan through Cabinet. (Video first published in August 2019)
INZ had also approved 19 condition-free permanent residence visa applications involving 42 individuals from existing resident visa holders.
The new category was intended to provide certainty to people living in New Zealand about their ability to remain here permanently.
It did not have any discretion when determining if someone qualified.
Those not eligible or who had their application declined might be able to apply for another type of visa, or they could write to the minister asking for special consideration.
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