Recent graduates on short-term visas will not be eligible to apply for the Governors 2021 Resident Visa. A student launched petition is calling for international students graduating in 2021 to be included.
Last month, the Government announced a new one-off residence visa pathway for some temporary work and critical purpose visa holders currently in New Zealand to apply for residence. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) expects that 165,000 migrants will be eligible to become residents under this new category.
Students who have applied for, or have been granted a Post Study Work Visa, by September 29, 2021 may be eligible to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa. This visa allows graduates to work in New Zealand for up to three years after they finish their study. However, International student 2021 graduates are calling for INZ to allow recent tertiary graduates to be included under this new residence category.
A petition started by Psychology and Statistics student Kristen Dai has garnered over 2000 signatures. The petition argues that offshore graduates should have the opportunity to work and study in New Zealand. “I hope INZ can consider us new graduates, and allow more time for us to get our work visa so we can get a chance to work and live in NZ.” In the petition, Dai argues that many students are being left behind, and face an uncertain future. “Being in NZ for more than three years I haven’t got the chance to go home because of the pandemic. I was hoping there would be some chance or pathway to help me stay in NZ as I really love this country.”
Haoze Du, a history and philosophy student who has been studying in New Zealand since he was in year 11 also hopes to stay in New Zealand after graduating. “For post-study, I am thinking of continuing my education to do a Master’s, possibly PhD in Philosophy. I would love to work in a charity or academia or to become a high school teacher if possible.”
Du told Craccum that his University experience was positive in first-year, giving a shout out to the Arts Scholars Programme he was a part of. But Du’s experience was affected significantly after visiting his family in China at the end of 2019. “After the virus first broke out and flights between China and New Zealand were suspended, I still tried to get back to New Zealand as many students did.”
Due to visa processing issues, Du wasn’t able to return before the border closed. “There was a month, I stayed up till 3am to 5am in China to call immigration to check on the status of my visa application. But the process was slow, to put it nicely, those applications were left there for a good month, and no one cared for it.” While studying offshore, Du says he missed out on key parts of his degree. “An arts degree is all about the tutorials and things got a bit messy in the second semester and first semester this year when the class in Auckland was in person. I didn’t really have any tutorials, so there was a huge missing out there. But most of my lecturers did reach out to check on how I was doing.”
The exclusion of students in his position, Du says, is disappointing, stating that International students have sacrificed a lot in New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. “International students’ rights have been underrepresented for a long time. Living in New Zealand for almost five years and much of my teenage years, the exclusion of the policy is a huge slap in the face.” He says that while it is reasonable for the Government to protect people from COVID-19, the sacrifice of many students in his position, and their contribution to New Zealand’s economy needs to be acknowledged.