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Funds to be paid back after eligibility error
Q.        Immigration has turned down my application to renew my visa and I have to return to my home country, India. How do I get my KiwiSaver money out of my provider Westpac?
A.       Your question raises another bigger question and that is, how did you join KiwiSaver in the first place? If you are not entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely then you are not eligible to be in the KiwiSaver Scheme. However, I have some good news for you. You can get most of your KiwiSaver money back and you won’t have to wait as long as an eligible member.
There are two basic rules on eligibility - that a person is under 65 and is entitled to live here indefinitely. These rules are set out in the KS3 information sheet ‘Your introduction to KiwiSaver’ which should be given to all new employees.
Obviously you slipped through someone’s net, and I am sure this does happen occasionally. It is certainly possible that an overburdened payroll person may opt someone into KiwiSaver without checking the details of their work visa. 
But in that case, they would more than likely go into one of the default schemes, and Westpac is not one of them. Did you join directly with Westpac? In that case, they should have checked your eligibility status when they processed your application. I have attempted to get a comment from Westpac but am still waiting for a reply. 
In contrast the staff in the KiwiSaver department at Inland Revenue are very prompt and obliging. I discussed your situation (anonymously) with them and they agreed that you had been enrolled in error. Apparently this does happen from time to time.
What is the usual process for someone who emigrates? Unless the destination is Australia they can apply to close their KiwiSaver account but they have to wait 12 months before any money is paid out. They need to fill out a ‘Permanent Emigration Application Form’ and supply evidence of departure from New Zealand as well as arrival at their new country of residence and evidence that they are still living there after 12 months (e.g. a bank statement). The funds can only be paid out to a New Zealand bank account, so people heading overseas permanently would be wise to keep an account open for this purpose. In this situation most of the funds are paid out including the $1000 ‘kickstart’ but not the Member Tax Credits.
As your enrolment was invalid, you should be able to fast-track the process. Inland Revenue staff have told me that not many people are enrolled in error, but if they are identified their KiwiSaver accounts are closed and their contributions are returned to them, less the Government ‘kickstart’ and the Member Tax Credits. 
So there is the bad news and the good news. I am sorry that your stay in New Zealand has been cut short, but I trust your savings will help you establish yourself back in your home country.
 
Shelley Hanna is an Authorised Financial Adviser FSP12241.  Her disclosure statement is available on request and free of charge by calling 8703838.  The information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to provide personalised advice.  If readers have any KiwiSaver questions they would like answered please go to www.peak.net.nz or email shelley.hanna@peak.net.nz.