|Nguyen Anh Tuan learnt of New Zealand's long term business visa from a friend, and decided to visit the country and see the place for himself before deciding whether or not it would be worth his while to start a business there. After a prolonged visitor's visa application process handled by an authorized New Zealand immigration advisor, Tuan arrived in the country only to be questioned for more than 10 hours and refused entry. The New Zealand immigration authorities are yet to respond to Tuan's demand for an explanation, but an embassy spokesperson informed Vietweek that he was refused entry into the country because of "inconsistencies" in his statements.
(see Vietweek issue 075, June 28-July 4, 2013). This is Tuan's response:
A view of Auckland City at night. PHOTO: HDWDB.COM
New Zealand is no longer of interest to me, although I am still waiting to hear from the embassy directly the response to my complaint.
However, because the embassy has claimed that not all elements of my story are accurate, I would like to add the following details.
The immigration official at Auckland airport asked me if I had contacted any organization in New Zealand and I said no. Then he concluded that I was lying. He also mentioned the name of a company/organization that I didn't know anything about and concluded I was a liar.
In fact, my immigration advisor had made an appointment with another New Zealand lawyer for me on January 14 as a bonus service so that I could ask for more information if needed. However, as I had said earlier, I was not able to make my trip as originally scheduled. So the meeting did not happen.
Furthermore, the company which employed the lawyer I was supposed to meet was not the one mentioned by the immigration official when I was interviewed. So far, even my immigration advisor has no idea where that name came from.
To repeat, the purpose of my visit to New Zealand was very clear, genuine and legitimate from the beginning to the sorry end of the story.
If readers think mine is an isolated case, I would like to draw their attention to a piece of news carried by Stuff.co.nz on June 22, 2013.
"A high-powered US-backed delegation of Afghans who wanted to come to Fieldays was refused entry to New Zealand because Immigration believed they would try to stay in the country."
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The article quotes Labor spokeswoman for Immigration, Darien Fenton, as saying the Afghan delegation had legitimate reasons for wanting to visit New Zealand. Considering the group had 18 members, she thought it was unlikely they would try to overstay their visas.
"They could hardly just disappear into the woodwork," she said. "It doesn't sound reasonable to me."
Obviously, some New Zealand immigration officers are prejudiced against people coming from some developing countries. The way the New Zealand officer treated me smacked of racism. Of course, this will never be admitted, but this is something I strongly felt, and with reason.
Such officials should realize that it is a wide, wide world, and that there are many other options outside their nation's borders. They should also read some history about how they came to occupy the land. If visitors and potential immigrants are treated the way I was, New Zealand might remain a land with beautiful scenery, but people will realize it is also home to an ugly, racist culture.
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By Nguyen Anh Tuan *
* The writer is a Vietnamese businessman who lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City. The opinions expressed are his own.