Edinburgh TV star in New Zealand wins visa reprieve

Martin Laidlaw. Picture: Comp
Martin Laidlaw. Picture: Comp
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An Edinburgh reality TV star who faced being booted out of New Zealand by immigration officials has won a reprieve.

A campaign was launched to keep builder Martin Laidlaw in the country after his application for a visa renewal was denied.

Nicknamed ‘The Hot Builder’, Martin has become a sensation among Kiwis after starring in home renovation TV show The Block.

During filming for the latest series of the show he was devastated to be given the news that he had to return home over claims New Zealanders had not been given the chance of his job.

However, Immigration NZ have now performed a u-turn after Martin’s employers provided evidence that they had advertised his role to natives.

A spokesman said: “Senior immigration officers have the power to grant a visa of any type to a person unlawfully in New Zealand and otherwise liable for deportation.

“We have now been provided with extra information which was not submitted at the time of the original application, which shows the employer has now made efforts to advertise for New Zealanders for the role and that there are none available.”

Martin and his partner, who works in a bank, have had their visas extended for 12 months, and plan to apply for New Zealand residency as soon as possible.

An online hashtag called #savemartinthescottishbuilder had been created and Martin received several marriage proposals in a bid to keep him in the country.

A petition to keep him in the country also gathered more than 4,000 signatures.

The 30-year-old said he was “absolutely devastated” that he wouldn’t be able to finish what he started on the programme, which sees him work with couples on construction projects.

The original ruling came despite there being a shortage of builders in New Zealand.

He 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: “We’re over the moon, we’re his employers but we’re also extremely good friends. I just can’t believe the support, it’s been amazing.

“Thanks to everyone that has taken the time out from there busy lives to support us keeping Martin, good karma came around today.”

Hayden Campbell, a contestant on The Block whose house Martin has been working on, said: “Having Martin back makes the impossible seem plausible.

“We are relieved that both Martin and his partner are able to move forward with their plans in New Zealand.”