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Thousands of international students have been stranded because of New Zealand’s border restrictions.
Many students have spent thousands of dollars to study in New Zealand, received study visas, but have been unable to enter the country since March.
Hundreds of migrant workers protested in India to demand the same type of treatment New Zealand residents and citizens have been able to return home by spending two weeks in hotels that are acting as quarantine facilities.
The migrant workers are stranded with no plan on what’s to happen next, or if they can go to New Zealand at all. They are unable to find work and face severe financial distress.
Migrants who were on temporary visas who lost their jobs, until December, were not eligible for unemployment benefits and they were forced to rely on food parcels and emergency relief to survive with no support from the Government. Delays were expected from Immigration New Zealand for temporary visa holders.
During the 2020 General Elections on October 17, Education NZ let the Labour Party know that the border closure has been the most restrictive in the world. Universities NZ added to the complaint last month that there were about 5,200 students who are enrolled were stuck offshore all year long.
The border closure means several jobs at universities will be dropped or cut next year due to revenue declines.
The Government announced 250 overseas postgraduate students would come to New Zealand on December 3, while more will arrive during the New Year. Education Minister Chris Hipkins told Radio NZ that the Government would most likely not open to significant numbers of international students for another 12 to 18 months.
Students have sent emails daily to INZ asking for an update as they stay silent for the majority of the year. An automated message was the only result of an attempt to figure out what was happening.
Tincy, from India, helped organise a petition that gained around 600 signatures to the New Zealand Parliament to allow international students with a valid visa to enter the country as they have already paid their 2020 study fees, to pursue their studies.
Her family, brother, and sister-in-law already live and work in New Zealand. Tincy paid to study coding at Nelson Malborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) in the South Island when the border closed in late March. It forced her to take out an education loan from a bank in December of 2019, pledging her house, as well as gold that was meant for a wedding gift.
Since being unable to find work this year because employers were asking for at least six months, one or two-year contracts, it forced most students into the same situation that Tincy had gone through after resigning from their jobs to go to New Zealand.
“At least the government should consider the people who paid their fees at the beginning of 2020 and have a valid visa. We are really struggling. We have a career gap and a financial crisis; we are going through depression,” she said.
“One of my friends resigned from my company to go overseas to the UK. In the coming April he’s going to finish his studies; he’s paid his tuition fees back, and he’s looking after his family, and I am still waiting,”
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