A BUILDER from the Capital who has become a reality television star in New Zealand faces being booted out of the country by immigration officials.
A campaign has been launched to keep Martin Laidlaw in the country after his application for a visa renewal was denied.
Nicknamed “The Hot Builder”, he has become a sensation after starring in home renovation TV show The Block.
But, during filming for the latest series of the show, he was devastated to be given the news that he had to return home.
The ruling comes despite there being a shortage of builders in New Zealand. Martin’s application was refused because his job was not advertised to New Zealanders.
A Twitter campaign called #savemartinthescottishbuilder has been created and Martin has received several marriage proposals in a bid to keep him in the country.
Neither Martin nor his partner, who lost her bank job, can go back to work, as they are now classed as illegal immigrants.
The 30-year-old said he was “absolutely devastated” that he won’t be able to finish what he started on the programme, which sees him work with couples on construction projects.
He said: “This week is the last week before it wraps up and I cannot go back.
“It is the most important week, you work hard not only for yourself and your boss but the couple – we have all worked so hard, it’s horrible they won’t let me finish it.
“I have had a lot of messages from people generally being quite understanding, they can’t see why they would send us home when there is a shortage of builders.
“It’s not only a personal thing, it’s something that needs to be put right.”
Martin has been working in New Zealand for two years, employed as a builder by Qualified Building Solutions (QBS) in Auckland.
QBS director Troy Jury said: “He has worked for us for two years, is a foreman for us, trains young Kiwi builders for us, we have clients who have specifically asked for him as project manager and builder so we lose out too.
“Mainly, he’s a really nice guy outside his role on TV. He’s a genuinely nice person and, at the end of the day, we have got a housing crisis and there’s a shortage of trained builders.”
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) said Martin was approved for a one-year visa last year to work as a carpenter.
According to INZ, he submitted a new application for a work visa this year but the application was declined as his employer did not advertise the role to establish if there were any New Zealanders available to do the job.
INZ area manager Michael Carley said: “Now that his application has been declined Mr Laidlaw is unlawfully in New Zealand and is encouraged to settle his affairs here and leave the country.”