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Law must be changed to stop overseas student exploitation

December 1, 2014

MEDIA RELEASE

Law must be changed to stop overseas student exploitation and damage to NZ reputation

New Zealand’s immigration laws must be changed to stop overseas students from being exploited by unscrupulous employers and overseas unlicensed agents, says the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI).

NZAMI, New Zealand's leading professional association for immigration specialists, says the exploitation of students which has recently been highlighted in the media starts in their home country.

“They are being enticed to study in New Zealand with false promises of developing their career in this country and gaining New Zealand residence,” explains NZAMI chair June Ranson.

Ms Ranson says NZAMI believes the problem of migrant exploitation, such as seen in the recent Masala and other cases, starts at the agent recruiting the student in India.

Ms Ranson says that in 2008 the NZ Government introduced licensing of immigration advisors, which means that any person giving immigration advice about New Zealand must be licensed or have an exemption.

In May 2010 an exemption was granted to offshore persons to become Student Agents. This exemption was quickly picked up on by self-appointed agents, who negotiated arrangements with NZ education institutions and introduced prospective students.

“The people overseas who are providing guidance and organising their student visas for New Zealand are not necessarily qualified to do so. They are enticing students to enrol in low-level Management courses in New Zealand without a thought for the likelihood of them getting work once they have completed the course, and building expectations that the student will be eligible to apply for residence after study.”

Ms Ranson says students coming straight out of study are most unlikely to obtain a management position in NZ, but this is of little concern to the unlicensed agent offshore as they will have been well paid by the time the student completes the course.

The NZ Government announced last year its initiatives to encourage further growth in New Zealander’s $2.6 billion international education sector – the second major revenue earner for New Zealand. India is NZ’s biggest growth market for students.

“These students and their families sacrifice everything to come and study in NZ. Many of the students already hold Bachelor degrees or some other sort of degree gained at highly reputable universities.

“One would have to question why they are being strongly encouraged by these agents to come and study low-level business qualifications. We believe it is a quick, money-making opportunity for agents who have no responsibility for what happens to these students.

“These students would have a far better chance of gaining permanent residence in NZ if they were given guidance about courses that would better suit their circumstances such as post-graduate studies in the area of their studies back home.”

She says this has now encouraged some disreputable employers to take advantage.

Ms Ranson says the NZ Government’s current approach is very short-sighted and shameful, with no long term focus.

“This approach will undoubtedly damage the opportunity for trade as the exploited students will return to their home countries with a poor impression of the country and they could well be the future leaders of our trading partners.”

The NZAMI is made up of lawyers and licensed immigration advisers who must uphold professional standards and comply with the Association’s strict Code of Ethics. This Code requires them to uphold the integrity of the New Zealand immigration system and to respect the vulnerability of migrants at all times. For more information please see: www.nzami.co.nz.

Ends

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