My previous blog post described my conversation with an Immigration New Zealand official from Auckland who called me when I was about to board a flight to Auckland from Tokyo. I'm still at a hotel next to Narita Airport, working on figuring out what to do next. Though I wish I had been more circumspect in getting a work visa lined up in advance, this situation is really over the top, with INZ people reading my blog way in advance of my arrival, particularly when I'm from a country that does not require a visa to visit New Zealand. Anyway, for the details up til now you can check out my previous blog entry, but there are some new details that seemed worth mentioning.
Namely, a wonderful immigration lawyer in Christchurch who has been trying to help me out of this situation emailed me today, recounting a conversation he had with the private secretary of a top INZ official. Here's the pertinent bit of the email he wrote to me:
"When I described your situation he aggressively advised me of the rules and said that you couldn’t expect to put them to one side at your choice. When I sensed I was getting nowhere I advised him there could be some political implications for the government and to my surprise he stated he was aware of you as he had read an article you had written on a Marxist blog where you detailed your situation with INZ. When I advised him that I had not mentioned who I was talking about he advised me that he knew it was you. Big Brother is watching you!!!! So the Minister had obviously been alerted to your situation..."
On another note, most of the NZ gigs are still happening without me, so if you're a kiwi, please go check out the gigs! Those who were to be opening acts are now the main acts, and they're great performers. For the Nelson and Wellington gigs I'll be making appearances via Skype, too!
Moving on to Australia, where I'm hoping to go next, whether or not I get into New Zealand (which of course looks increasingly unlikely)...
In the past two tours of Australia I've done, I have entered on a tourist visa and then, before the first gig happened, an agent I've worked with has gotten me a work visa. This is totally legal and happens all the time. For citizens of the US, Canada and a few other countries, getting a tourist visa to Australia is almost automatic. You go to a government website, pay $20, and within seconds you're issued a tourist visa. This is how it's been for me in the past. However, today, applying for the initial tourist visa, I got the following message:
"This system performs checks required by the Australian Government. In a small number of cases, we cannot immediately issue an ETA [Electronic Travel Authority]. Your application is one of these cases. It has been referred to the Australian immigration authorities for further assessment."
So we'll see what happens next with that. Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive, morally and financially, of me in the past couple days. It's helped immensely, and made what could have been a financially and emotionally ruinous experience far more bearable.
New development (a few hours later)... I just checked the status of my Australian visa application online, as you can do, and received this message:
"Your application has been reviewed by the Australian immigration authorities. It has not been successful."
My agent in Australia will be appealing this. There's still 12 days before my first gig there, which under normal circumstances, certainly from past experience, should be plenty of time to sort out a temporary work visa. Guess we'll just see what happens. Maybe I'll be denied entry into the USA next...?
Latest development: temporary work visa to Australia has been granted! Tour of Australia will be going ahead as planned.