The recent incident of an international student from India threatening to commit suicide in the Electorate Office of National Party Member of Parliament at Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi is a cry for immigration help and desperation that exists among students.
This is not an isolated incident.
My predictions, made through my column in Indian Newslink, a speech delivered at the Immigration Law CCH conference, my comments on Radio Tarana in 2014 and my weekly Wellington based radio programme ‘Koffee with Kamil,’ are unfortunately coming true.
I was deeply concerned over such tragic developments.
Most people would now agree that a problem exists and that many measures have been put in place to deal with issues such as migrant exploitation legislation, increased labour inspectorate activity, and increase in compliance. But these are just addressing the symptoms but the elephant in the room continues to cause concern.
The international student, besides being a means of immense foreign revenue for New Zealand, predicted to increase, is fraught with undesirable issues.
The disconnect exists because of the credibility gap; what the students are sold offshore and what they get onshore are not the same.
Based on empty promises of a residence in New Zealand, decisions are made to pursue that dream through heavy borrowings and/or sale of assets such as property and fees.
When that dream is in jeopardy, international students resort to other undesirable methods such as paying for jobs that do not exist, marriage of convenience, working in undesirable and exploited conditions – all leading to suicidal tendencies and depression.
In essence, many international students are sold low-level courses on the pretext that they will gain New Zealand residence at the end.
Most officials are aware of these happenings but there is no will to stop.
Why do we allow our international students to suffer? Are we so desperate for money that we do not feel responsible to these youngsters? Do we really want to be accused of taking blood money?
Most important of all, how do we stop these unhealthy practices?
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) should also carry at least a part of the blame. The department is known to delay decisions on applications for work visa, resident visa and job search visa.
The Department’s decisions declining applications, the tone of declining letters sent to applicants and the management of student appeals leave much to be desired.
The difficult stance taken by INZ often drives students to the state as witnessed at Mr Bakshi’s office the other day.
There is a need for consultation with all the parties involved including INZ officials in India and New Zealand, employers and headhunters in New Zealand and most importantly, a regime that would discipline some unscrupulous agents in India and perhaps New Zealand.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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) to email@example.com