Ukrainian grandmother pleads to stay with her NZ family

Ukrainian Olena Dragomyretska​ is pleading with the New Zealand Government to let her stay in New Zealand permanently.

Stuff reports the 69-year-old grandmother, returning to her homeland is unthinkable at the moment, but her visa expires at the end of March.

Dragomyretska​ is worried she will be forced to leave.

She was in New Zealand when Covid-19 hit and while her visa expired in 2020, it was automatically extended three times because of Covid. She has since successfully applied twice for a visitor visa, but that expires soon.

If Dragomyretska was not allowed to stay in New Zealand, she would have to apply for refugee status from another country. Staying in New Zealand illegally was not an option for her.

“My life is here now. I have friends here,” she said.

She has no close family in Ukraine.

Immigration NZ (INZ) is aware of this, so is encouraging anyone from Ukraine in New Zealand with a visa due to expire soon, to get in touch to discuss their options.

Border and visa operations general manager Nicola Hogg​ (pictured) says INZ realises these people may be unable to return immediately to their home country “due to circumstances beyond their control.”

They may be able to apply for a further visa to enable them to stay, she says.

Each application would be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant and available information.

Hogg says INZ will “be taking a pragmatic approach in these circumstances.”

The National Party however says the Government needs to do much more to help Ukranians.

National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says her party is urging the Government to create a special humanitarian visa for immediate family members of Ukrainians who have settled in New Zealand.

“The situation in Ukraine is worsening by the day and Ukrainian Kiwis will be extremely worried about the safety of their family members back home,” she says.

“This is something New Zealand can do now to support our Ukrainian Kiwis to bring their immediate family members here. There are approximately 1500 Ukrainians living in New Zealand, so this could benefit thousands of people in desperate situations.

“The Government should also fast-track existing visa applications for Ukrainians, as Australia has done.

“New Zealand’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine so far has been lacking compared to the rest of the global community. We urge the Government to make this a priority.”


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