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Masters graduate mystified by ruling to leave country

Masters graduate mystified by ruling to leave country: 'I was so confident'
Emma Hatton, Journalist

A woman denied a post-study work visa says she's baffled by the Immigration department's decision not to let her stay in the country.

The Alamir Bakery

The Alamir Bakery in Wellington supplies over 300 supermarkets and restaurants across New Zealand. Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton

Shyamal Patel completed a Masters in International Studies at IPU in Palmerston North, completing her dissertation in supermarkets and buyer behaviour.

She was offered the role of office manager at Alamir Bakery in Wellington - a food company that supplies over 300 supermarkets and restaurants nationwide.

It also has international trade links, importing raw ingredients and equipment from places such as Lebanon, Jordan and the United States.

Prior to studying Ms Patel managed a supermarket - experience, a qualification and a job offer that she thought all went hand in hand.

"I was so confident I would get [the visa]. I wanted a job where I could use my knowledge and what I had learned over the last two years," she said.

Her job involved managing the overseas imports, negotiating trade pricing, dealing with customers and overseeing 22 staff on a day-to-day basis.

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One of her first tasks was setting up a trade deal to bring spices in from India.

Her course outline states under the "professional outcome" heading, that graduates can expect a career at "a supervisory and management level where an understanding of international business, trade, politics and environmental, social and cultural sensitivity is required".

"I think I have that type of job, but I don't know, INZ (Immigration New Zealand) is not satisfied," she said.

INZ assistant general manager for visa services Peter Elms said the department reviewed Ms Patel's application four times.

He said the job offer and the qualification did not match closely enough.

"The major areas of the qualification have got to be directly applicable. The major areas of [Ms Patel's qualification] are international business, international relations and sustainable development.

"For Immigration we assessed that as not being relevant to an office manager at a bakery."

Ms Patel's employer and director of the company Hassan Alamir said he was offended that the position and the company appeared to have been belittled by INZ.

"One sentence stuck out to me in [the rejection letter]. It said a quick Google search showed that we make kebabs and pizzas."

"We do, in our restaurant, but we're not a small company we're a national supplier."

Mr Alamir said he had been left questioning how seriously INZ took Ms Patel's application - despite him also providing two years' worth of financial statements, staff records and a detailed outline of Ms Patel's job description.

"I've never actually experienced anything like this before. We've done this many times in the past we've been an employer in this country for 20 years and hired hundreds of staff.

"I know what they look for and why they say no and I never ever would have thought they'd say no to [her]. It's quite sad."

Mr Elms said while INZ sympathised with Ms Patel and her employer, the application was thoroughly looked over and he was confident of the department's decision.

He said the type of job which may have landed Ms Patel the visa would be a larger company with stronger international ties.

"A business that's reasonably significant, that has subsidiaries in other countries and that is involved in international affairs generally - it's not a bakery."

He also questioned why the list of duties Ms Patel was responsible for had expanded since the original advertisement for an office manager went up.

"The employer's saying that this is a complex job and yet the initial advert he provided us with is for a general administrator. It hardly stacks up to be the type of role that they're saying it is now."

But Mr Alamir said the role was a new position and once they saw what Ms Patel could bring to the company the scope naturally expanded beyond the initial advertisement.

Ms Patel is currently making plans to leave New Zealand and Mr Alamir said he would re-advertise for a manger in the new year.

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