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Trauma takes migrant to suicide point

By the time you read this, 24-year old Mahendra (not his real name) may have been deported to India by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

Like thousands of people from various parts of the world, he came to New Zealand in the hope of obtaining higher educational qualifications, securing a good job and settling down in a country of his dreams.

Like hundreds of people, his dreams too were shattered by a system that often appears to be heartless, unable to differentiate between apples and oranges. The system throws them out, without even revisiting the merits they hold, the contributions they make and most importantly, the value that they bring to the economy.

Campaign victim

Again, like many others, Mahendra became a victim to the marketing and advertising campaigns that our Education and Tourism gurus promote overseas. It was in 2008 that hearing his friends talk about going abroad to study that he began to dream of a big mansion, fancy cars and a wealthy life in a ‘First World Country.’ In fact, he had thought of almost everything that would make him and his family proud in his village.

He attended seminars organised by government officials and ‘education agents’ in India. He was shown pictures of New Zealand as its promoters praised its green and clean status.

He was told how the New Zealand Immigration process worked. He understood that after completing a one-year course, he would be given a job- search visa, followed by a two-year work visa. He also learnt that if he found a job related to his qualifications, INZ would eventually grant him permanent resident status.

High costs

He was told of the cost of migration, education, accommodation and other things involved and that if he complied with the procedures, the immigration process will be easy.

There was one problem – he did not have the requisite money.

“Do not worry son,” his parents said. “We will take a loan. Once you settle down in New Zealand with a good job and good salary, we can repay the loan.”

While commercial banks lend against mortgage of commercial or residential property, there are many parents who will either pledge or sell their land, jewellery and other items to pay for their children’s education overseas.

Steady progress

Mahendra was serious about his studies. Following his qualifications in Management, he began his career at a supermarket and soon became the manager of its grocery department. Pleased with his good performance and behaviour, he was given a pay rise and additional responsibilities. He was a good team leader, motivating others to offer their best to achieve customer satisfaction.

They liked his Asian way of working with great diligence and pride. Mahendra learnt from his friends that they were successful in their application for permanent residence and decided to follow suit.

PR declined

He lodged his application for permanent residence.

INZ declined his application saying that the position held by him was not ‘skilled employment.’

His work visa (under essential skills instructions) was not granted because there were other New Zealanders with the necessary experience or with appropriate training to do the job.

Mahendra’s employers were horrified and baffled by this turn of events.

He is currently on depression pills but was on suicide alert at one stage.

Hard questions

How is it that our immigration system declines the application of a person educated in New Zealand and has a good job from becoming a permanent resident?

Was Mahendra set up, duped by the system that showed a promise if he followed the necessary steps? Why was this promise not delivered? What went wrong?

Is this pathway realistic? Is it actually now available? Is it reflective of how INZ currently processes such applications? Migrant students and workers were able to get permanent residence earlier; why not Mahendra? What prompted the change? Is there some significance to the timing of this change?

Is it available to some categories and not to others? If so, why has this category been differentiated and held to a much higher standard? Why is this route still being marketed as a route to residence when in reality it is not?

Would they have come to New Zealand, had they known that after paying high costs, spending up to five years, that the dream would become a farce? Would they have considered staying back in their home country if they knew that their dream of becoming permanent residents would not become a reality?

Should not INZ and others involved make this clear at the outset? Why should boundaries be shifted after they arrive here?

Are these former international students being grossly mislead by Immigration New Zealand?

Dear Reader, I invite you to participate in this Forum Please send your thoughts and experiences to kamil.lakshman@idesilegal.co.nz; or editor@indiannewslink.co.nz

Kamil Lakshman is a Lawyer & Principal of Wellington based law firm Idesi Legal Limited. She can be contacted on (04) 4616018 or 021-1598803. Email:

kamil.lakshman@idesilegal.co.nz; The opinions expressed in her article above are her own and not that of Idesi Legal Limited or the New Zealand Law Society, or its Wellington Branch, or its affiliated bodies and committees or Indian Newslink. Readers can send their comments (names can be withheld from publication on request) also to editor@indiannewslink.co.nz

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