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Locke Incorrect Over Visa Claims

9 July 2002

Claims by Keith Locke that New Zealand citizen Mohammed Saffi was entitled to short-term study in the United States without a visa have been confirmed as wrong, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

“The visa waiver form all New Zealanders receive when travelling to the US clearly states;

You may not accept unauthorised employment; or attend school; or represent foreign information media during your visit under this programme.

“For most study courses a student visa is required,” Mr Goff said.

“For a short course of study of less than 18 hours a week a student visa is not required, as Mr Locke states. However, Mr Locke has omitted to acknowledge that the requirement for such short courses is a tourist visa.

“No study is permitted under the visa waiver programme. This is explicitly stated on the visa waiver form as is the warning that any violation of these terms will result in deportation.

“I am advised by our Washington Embassy that Mr Saffi acknowledges that a mistake was made and accepts the decision by the US authorities to deport him.

“He has been accorded all the usual consular assistance by the New Zealand Embassy in Washington which is given to any New Zealander who is deemed to have committed a visa violation.

“While we have sympathy for Mr Saffi and others who find themselves in the situation without intent of violating US Immigration requirements, the US like other countries is entitled to respond as it has.

“Mr Locke should respect Mr Saffi’s family’s stated wishes for privacy instead of misstating facts in order to try to score political points from his difficulties,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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