The number of applications rejected from India seem to be a big number. Why is it so? What corrective actions are being proposed? Are any policy changes being proposed?
As a matter of background all students (apart from Australian citizens) coming to New Zealand to study for more than three months need a student visa and have to meet health and character requirements.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has invested heavily in intelligence gathering and verification support resources for immigration officers in India. As a result we have become more aware of risk and fraud in the market. INZ conducts robust assessment of all applications to ensure the authenticity and reliability of evidence provided. Because of the complexity of the market and the high incidence of fraud, the student visa approval rates for India have traditionally been lower than elsewhere. A majority of the declined applicants are students who have not been able to demonstrate their bona fides. This may refer to a student being unable to satisfactorily demonstrate their genuine intention towards their stay and study plans in New Zealand, being unable to prove the authenticity of documentation provided in support of any academic or work experience claims, or being unable to satisfactorily evidence their ability to financially support their intended study plans.
INZ is doing a lot of work to educate the providers about student selection, and the need to manage their agent networks. The agents are putting forward students who do not meet immigration criteria for student visas, as evidenced by the current approval rate for 1st to 18th September in Mumbai of 47%.
INZ has recently changed some of the policies around sponsorship – sponsorship for tertiary students who are in New Zealand will only be accepted if they were also sponsored by the same person for their offshore student visa. This means that a student who was self-funded in their application in India cannot switch to being sponsored once they are in New Zealand. This prevents students without funds from using sponsors onshore to avoid scrutiny. It’s very important that students can afford to live and study in New Zealand without relying on work. Students who are struggling financially are vulnerable to exploitation.
What would be the plight of the students who are being deported? We understand from media coverage that the students are alleging that it is not their mistake? is there any action being proposed to be taken against the Agents / Institutions. What steps are being taken to do the damage control?
It’s important to note that any individual providing New Zealand immigration advice either in New Zealand or offshore must be licensed unless explicitly exempt. There are some limited exemptions from this licensing requirement, including an exemption for immigration advice provided offshore in relation to student visas only.
Immigration New Zealand and the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) ran a campaign in India earlier this year encouraging people to use a New Zealand licensed immigration adviser if they are seeking assistance to come to New Zealand.
As there is no requirement for agents providing New Zealand immigration advice on student visas only to be licensed neither INZ nor the IAA can take action against such agents unless they are acting beyond the scope of the exemption. Some of these agents have been submitting student visa applications with fraudulent documents contained. INZ has been notifying all education providers in New Zealand when fraud has been identified in any application to study with them. This allows providers to review their relationships with agents who have at any time lodged an application with fraudulent documentation in it. INZ has received positive feedback from education providers about receiving this information as they are able to act quickly on it and take any action as appropriate.
As part of their visa application all students must personally make a declaration that states that the information provided in their application is both true and correct, regardless of whether they use an immigration adviser or student agent. As with all visa applications, the responsibility is on the applicant to ensure they provide genuine and accurate information as part of their visa application to INZ.
People who stay in New Zealand longer than their visa allows are unlawfully in the country and are under a legal obligation to leave. They are liable for deportation. A compliance officer will attempt to engage with the client to find out their circumstances and they may be allowed a period of time to depart voluntarily or get a new visa.
Holders of temporary visas who breach the conditions of their visa (for example students who are found working for more than their 20 hours per week allowance) or who are a risk because of character issues (such as fraud submitted in applications) may also be made liable for deportation.
In most cases, people have 42 days from the date they became liable for deportation to appeal against deportation on humanitarian grounds to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal after first becoming unlawful. During this 42 day period they cannot be deported from the country, unless they agree to waive their appeal rights.
INZ will explain their liability through the serving of a Deportation Liability Notice (DLN).
They then have 14 days to ask for a review of the DLN by an independent compliance officer and 28 days to appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal against deportation on humanitarian grounds. In these cases, the IPT is unable to review the factual circumstances which lead to the DLN.
People who are liable for deportation are case managed according to their circumstances. INZ works with the Police and other agencies to ensure this process is as efficient as possible.
Prior to deportation, INZ offers an interview to establish the person’s individual circumstances and ensure that the deportation is appropriate given their circumstances.
INZ has been prioritising for deportation Indian nationals that are:
unlawfully in New Zealand or
in breach of their visa conditions and
outside of the appeal period to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
Where could the students go for help if there are any issues with immigration, getting underpaid by Employers in NZ, a disreputable agent or any other related issues?
Students who are working have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand. The exploitation of migrant workers – such as paying less than the minimum wage or making people work excessive hours – is not welcome and breaches New Zealand law.
Anyone in this situation, or who knows of anyone in this situation, is encouraged to contact Immigration New Zealand or the Labour Inspectorate, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment. People can also contact CrimeStoppers anonymously.
Complaints about licensed immigration advisers and anyone giving immigration advice unlawfully without a licence should be made to the Immigration Advisers Authority, an independent organization separate from INZ.
Any other information which you could consider would be of value.
The Indian market is an extremely important one to New Zealand with more than 20,000 Indian nationals approved student visas in the last financial year – second only to China. The Indian market is an extremely important one to New Zealand and Indian students make a valuable and valued contribution to our economy, our communities and our diverse student body. All interested parties need to work together to ensure that only genuine students who can comfortably afford international study apply to come to New Zealand.