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An Indian migrant in New Zealand is facing deportation after he was found to have obtained a driver licence on the basis of a forged Indian licence by influencing a transport department official in Punjab.
30-year-old Jodhbir Singh’s troubles began in May this year when he was told that, for processing his work visa application as a forklift driver submitted in March 2018, the Immigration authorities were carrying out a verification of his driver licence obtained in India.
Mr Singh immediately withdrew his visa application. However, he was told the verification would still take place and the purported discovery of the verification all but ended his dream of a life in New Zealand.
In June this year, Immigration NZ issued a deportation notice to Mr Singh on the grounds that he had used a forged Indian driver licence in order to obtain a driver’s licence in New Zealand which "brought his character into question".
Mr Singh’s counsel denied that his Indian driver’s licence was forged and that the Regional Transport Authority’s records would not have reflected his licence because its details were not recorded in the digitisation of the database.
The counsel said Mr Singh had contacted the RTA and got a letter certifying the detail of his licence had been updated and also produced screenshots of his licence from the RTA’s website.
However, Immigration New Zealand said it carried out a further investigation after Mr Singh produced the letter, and the secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Wassan Singh confirmed that the letter of authentication was not genuine. INZ also claimed that the secretary further confirmed that he was influenced by Mr Singh to fabricate the online licence information.
Mr Singh has been in New Zealand since 2009 when he arrived as a dependent of his wife while she studied in the country.
The Tribunal accepted that he had worked with reputed companies and “devoted significant effort and energy” to remain in the country with “lawful status” as a “productive worker”. However, his appeal against the deportation was refused as the Tribunal did not find any “exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature”.
Virginia Shaw of the Tribunal said that Mr Singh’s wife and New Zealand-born child face an “unpalatable” choice between staying in New Zealand until 2020 when his wife’s work visa runs out and returning to India with him where “discrimination against female workers is commonplace”.