New Zealand’s international reputation has been damaged by Immigration NZ’s decision to deny an Iranian film director a visitor visa, a film festival director says.
Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami was invited to speak at the screening of her film Sonita at next month’s Documentary Edge film festival.
An immigration officer declined her visitor visa on the basis that she might become an overstayer.
This is a pretty bizarre decision. Does Immigration NZ think she went to all the trouble of producing a film and having it screened in NZ, just so she could visit here and them overstay?
Jacinda Ardern, Labour’s arts, culture and heritage spokesperson, has added her voice to those frustrated by the decision.
The denial “does not appear to be grounded in evidence or common sense” and will put New Zealand’s reputation at further risk of damage without resolution, she said.
I agree with Jacinda.
If someone is coming here for no specific reason, and has some risk factors, then you may need to be concerned about overstaying. But coming here to speak at the screening of a film you made is a very specific reason, and someone who makes films for a living is probably not that likely to try and hide in New Zealand, and become an illegal overstayer who lives off ash jobs picking fruit etc!
UPDATE: Immigration NZ has reversed the decision and granted the visa