COVID 19's influence on the life of temporary visa holders - Stressed temporary visa holders' call for New Zealand Immigration fairness
When the whole world is affected by the coronavirus, it may seem a little trivial to talk about temporary visa holders. However, when we read, listen, and feel these temporary visa holders' situations, it seems as if they are the ones most affected.
Hundreds of protesters marched through central Auckland, New Zealand, on July 11, 2021, to support migrant's rights and demand to "Let them Stay," "Pathway to Residency," and "Bring them Back."
When the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus an epidemic on March 11, 2020, the New Zealand government imposed a border ban on non-citizens and non-permanent residents entering New Zealand. As a result, many temporary visa holders who were overseas for various reasons could not return to New Zealand due to the border restrictions.
At that time, it was expected that the NZ Government would consider these temporary visa holders as a part of five million New Zealanders, and there will be an announcement made for them. But, sadly, nothing has happened so far, and temporary visa holders stuck offshore are left in limbo.
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New Zealand Immigration had different decisions for the onshore and offshore stuck temporary visa holders; those in the country were considered "onshore temporary visa holders" and those who got stuck overseas as "offshore temporary visa holders." "Onshore temporary visa holders" had some advantages, including an extension of their visa. In addition, since they are in the country, they may try different work or study options. The biggest thing is that they have hope that maybe something good will happen in the future.
Who are these "offshore temporary visa holders"? These mainly include international students and post-study work visa holders. These temporary visa holders have invested tens of thousands of dollars and the precious time of their lives in New Zealand with the hope of having a better future.
Since they are stuck offshore since March 2020, many have already lost their visa status, and other visas may soon expire. Unfortunately, no announcement has been made by New Zealand immigration, which means the amount of money they have spent on their education in NZ has been wasted.
Whenever there is an update from the Minister of Immigration, it is usually summed up by saying", "Unfortunately, due to the border restrictions, no decision can be made". However, no announcement has been made until now.
Migrants' stories are heartbreaking, touching, and emotional. The most common comments from these badly affected offshore stuck temporary visa holders are, "We don't know what to do", "We don't understand why it happened to us", "We feel like committing suicide", "We have invested tens of thousands of dollars on education in New Zealand and post-study work visa is our right to work in New Zealand" and "it is not our fault".
A post-study work visa is indeed their right. And this is the main attraction for international students in New Zealand. New Zealand Immigration (Government) openly advertises these work-right benefits in the 'Study in New Zealand' section.
Gurjeet Singh, offshore stuck temporary visa holders, has shared his situation. "I am very stressed; there is a huge financial and mental stress. I have invested all my savings on the education in New Zealand. I had to borrow money from other sources, which is not yet returned. The future is dark. I get stressed by other's situations also because many people with similar situations share their problems with me. I urge the New Zealand government to give us our rights".
Another temporary visa holder, Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, says, "We do not ask for immediate entry. But, we need assurance that it will happen. We are waiting patiently through our suffering, but we need assurance from the Government. I have invested thousands of dollars on my study, and post-study work visa is my right."
Swarna Rajeshwari, an offshore stuck temporary visa holder, writes, "I am holding a post-study work visa of NZ, which is going to expire soon. I came to NZ in 2018 as an international student, and on completion of my course, I got three years post-study work visa. On a medical emergency at home, I came to India on March 17, 2020, because my mother was on a ventilator with both her kidneys failure fighting for her life. And now I am Stuck in India for 16 months with no income. My parents mortgaged out house in the bank and paid my education fee in NZ (17 Lakhs INR), and the entire loan is pending because I am Stuck in India. The NZ government has wasted my entire post-study visa. I have written several emails to Immigration, MP's in NZ, immigration minister & prime minister, but no one replied positively. If I don't get a chance to come back to NZ as soon as possible, I will definitely commit suicide because my future career is over now because of NZ Government. I need to support my mother. I need to finish the loan. I am having the worst time of my life. I have taken covidsheild vaccine' I am ready to quarantine then what the issue is? Why not allowing me back? I have invested everything in NZ and now I am stuck in India to commit suicide. Please allow me back, all post-study work visa holders back. This is my request"
Just imagine, these "offshore temporary visa holders" have been waiting for fifteen months, hoping that maybe an update will come for them. Nevertheless, there is no answer. How difficult must it have been to pass each day? They are indeed in their own country, but we need to remember that they have spent years of their lives here in New Zealand hoping for a better future. They decided to come to New Zealand; they came here and worked hard for a better future.
Apart from the protesters demand that the border restrictions be lifted, they also demand the residency pathway.
It is now important that the Government consider their situation carefully under humanitarian grounds and come up with a favorable solution.
July 12, 2021
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