Betty George has been employed by the Claud Switzer Memorial Trust as a registered nurse (RN) since September 2013, almost six years.
Betty is a New Zealand resident.
Betty returned to India in 2016 and was married to Nidhin Mathews on September 12, 2016. It was an arranged marriage, but they had known each other for some considerable time.
Nidhin came to New Zealand on a Partnership Based Visitor Visa on May 28, 2017. Betty and Nidhin are living together as husband and wife in a very supportive, genuine and stable relationship.
Nidhin made an application for a Work Visa on the December 12, 2017. He received a letter by email from New Zealand Immigration on March 2, 2018 advising him that his application for a Work Visa has been unsuccessful and that he will be unlawfully in New Zealand as of March 4, 2018 and liable for deportation. He was asked to leave the country in two days.
Betty and Nidhin made an Urgent Section 61 application to New Zealand Immigration to ask them to review their decision. Unfortunately that application was also declined.
It seems that NZ Immigration was still not accepting that he and his partner were in a genuine and stable relationship.
We have a very good employment relationship with Betty, she is a highly valued and experienced RN, who is an essential part of our team. We decided to talk to the Member of Parliament for Northland, Matt King. He and his office has been most helpful.
I wrote to the Associate Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi on the April 4, 2018 to request that he personally review Nidhin’s application for a Work Visa under the Partnership Category.
The Claud Switzer Memorial Trust provides residential aged care for older New Zealanders. We are the only home in Kaitaia in the Far North. We provide a range of services including, rest home, hospital and dementia level care for 92 frail older people who live in this rural community.
In 2010, this community was at risk of losing the services we provide because of the shortage of RNs who were available and willing to work in aged care.
At the time, and despite wide advertising in the local and national media, and approaching Northland Polytechnic to offer placements and positions for new Bachelor of Nursing graduates and offering wage rates similar to those offered by district health boards, we were unable to recruit or retain the numbers of RNs required to maintain our services.
We made the decision to recruit overseas RNs and fortunately we have had a stable RN workforce since then. We have been able to maintain this extremely valuable essential service for the Kaitaia community. We have a good reputation for the standard of care we provide and we are regarded as a good employer.
We consider that we have been most fortunate in that we have recruited RNs from Kerala in India. Their nurse education is very similar to that of New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
They are usually very sound people who are reliable, committed and eager to do well. Diversity in workplaces is not merely a question of ethical consideration, it also improves employee wellbeing, productivity and business performance.
If Nidhin was not granted a Work Visa, I could see that it would be difficult for his wife Betty to remain in New Zealand and we would lose her, together with her skills, knowledge and experience.
This Trust understands the importance of providing employment opportunities and jobs to New Zealand Citizens.
However, if the aged care sector is unable to provide the appropriate standards of care, and retain the right skill mix knowledge and experience we are required to provide, we will once again be considering the loss of this essential service.
If the NZ Government does not actively support diversity in aged care then we will lose other RNs and overseas RNs will then apply to other countries instead of NZ. Without overseas RNs there is no doubt that we would have to close our hospital and many other organisations throughout NZ would follow.
This at a time when the Government has made a decision to provide more RNs for a health system that is struggling. It really makes no sense.
During the time that the Associate Minister of Health was considering Nidhin’s application (three months).
Nidhin and Betty were extremely upset, extremely anxious, concerned that Nidhin was staying in a country that did not want him. They worried that he would be arrested and forcibly made to leave. His driving licence expired, he was housebound, he became depressed.
Finally, the Minister decided to grant the Work Visa in July. So for now Nidhin and Betty can resume life, until the next time that they are required to apply.
I fail to see how NZ Immigration can justify this approach when all the evidence they have in relation to the ageing population, the tsunami of older people on their way towards aged care, demands an increase in RNs.
RNs won’t come to or stay in New Zealand without their families.