Clean image better than rich coffers

Kamil Lakshman

We said Goodbye to 2014, while ushering the New Year.

In the sphere of Immigration Law 2014 was a year of development calling for reflection.

It is becoming better known that some recent arrivals have brought traits with them that are undesirable, unfortunately overshadowing the many skilled and highly acclaimed people who have become part of the New Zealand scene.

This has given the migrant community a bad image because everyone is seen in the same image and painted with the same brush.

It is a changing landscape, which needs to be acknowledged so that everyone is aware and established community groups can appropriately respond.

But the difficulty is that some of these groups already have a large presence, become insular and hence do not realise the need or value in being part of an existing community.

Understanding the New Zealand way of life or the New Zealand psychic is missed as often transmission happens through this medium.

Undesirable traits

This segment of migrants bring with them undesirable traits that we as an established community do not want. It is disturbing and unsettling.

This aspect of the migrant scene has worried me the most, as it has a potential of spilling into the mainstream, risking the transparent and integrity.

New Zealand is known as a kind country that looks after its people through a welfare system that is meant for the deserving and a pension scheme to senior residents. A number of charitable organisations supplement or complement government’s efforts.

If we are to preserve entitlements and ethos, we will then be required to be vigilant and guard against erosion. This is our responsibility. As we have seen elsewhere, it does not take much to tip the balance.

Ironically, exploitation of some sections of the migrant population arises out of hunger for increased foreign students. Our marketing strategy in countries such as India has worked successfully. Thousands of students come to New Zealand to obtain management qualifications.

Dodgy operators

Unscrupulous operators have been dangling the carrot of easy pathway to residence. The ignorant and the vulnerable have been an easy prey. Many students are made to believe that their permanent residence here is guaranteed even before they leave their home country. Those who do not have the ‘luxury’ of this guarantee believe that they can ‘somehow’ manage on arrival or upon completion of their education.

Many of these students have their dreams shattered and hence become vulnerable targets for unscrupulous operators.

The moral compass had stopped working.

Such situations would not arise if our immigration regime has in place a sound strategy that is not only effective but also futuristic.

Unsound strategy

However, increasing income from international students has blurred our vision. Seats at our institutions are ‘sold’ to potential students as a pathway to residence.

This strategy may have been successful in the past but not anymore. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has tightened its regulations and is keen to ensure that migrants, especially international students are not exploited by agents and employers.

However, international students, especially those from India, are not made aware of the tightened immigration regime.

There is an obvious disconnect. The situation should not be allowed to continue, for it can harm the image of our institutions, INZ and New Zealand.

None of us of course would want the confidence in our country eroded.

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:; 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

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