Health workers forced to leave as they don’t qualify for fast-tracked residency visa

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A highly qualified radiologist says he and his wife, also a healthcare worker, have more than enough points to qualify as skilled migrants but have been turned down on technicalities.

A radiologist and a nurse who missed out on residence visas because of a technicality will now take their much-needed skills to the United States where they are welcomed with open arms.

The couple, who asked not to be identified for fear it would jeopardise their US visa application, are among thousands of people who don’t qualify for the pathway to residency.

“We love this country and want to contribute here. We are highly skilled, healthy and good citizens without any criminal record, but now we are forced to move to another country,” the radiologist said.

A petition has been launched calling for the one-off residency plan announced last month to include all visa holders who have lived in New Zealand for three or more years, earn the median wage, or work in a role on a scarce list.

READ MORE:

* ‘Like we don’t exist’: Stress continues for visa holders denied residency

* Petition started to broaden eligibility for fast-tracked 2021 resident visa

* ‘Long overdue’: Migrant workers welcome government’s residency plan for 165,000

A radiologist and a nurse who moved to Christchurch from Nepal in early 2018 say they don’t feel welcome in New Zealand any more.

STACY SQUIRES/Stuff

A radiologist and a nurse who moved to Christchurch from Nepal in early 2018 say they don’t feel welcome in New Zealand any more.

The policy is expected to supply 165,000 migrants with a fast-track to residency.

It is open to essential skills, work to residence and post study work visas, but not student or partner of a student visas.

Hari*, a trained radiologist, moved to Christchurch from Nepal in early 2018 on a student visa to complete his PhD. His wife, a trained nurse, joined with their two young children three months later on a student dependent work visa.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi answers questions on September 30 over the fast-tracking of residency applications for thousands of migrant workers on temporary work visas.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi answers questions on September 30 over the fast-tracking of residency applications for thousands of migrant workers on temporary work visas.

She could not afford to complete her registration to work as a nurse here as it would require two years of studies at a cost of $80,000 on her current visa.

While waiting for residency, which would reduce the study cost to a few thousand dollars, she has been working as a healthcare assistant for several hospitals.

Hari completed his thesis in January and started working as a consultant for a biomedical company. He is unable to complete his registration to work as a radiologist with patients until he is a resident. The family is also unable to buy a home and settle properly until then.

Hari applied for the skilled migrant category nine months ago, but expressions of interest were frozen.

The couple were devastated to find they did not qualify for the 2021 residency visa because they were still on student visas. Their immigration lawyer told them they would have to wait until 2024 to get skilled migrant visas because those would be reviewed only after 2021 residency visas were processed.

“The rules keep on changing, and you never know what you should do. This uncertainty is very hurtful,” Hari said.

The family loved New Zealand and wanted to stay here permanently, but felt they had no choice but to move to another country where they could find work in their chosen fields and settle properly.

With their futures looking a lot more certain, the Raja family hope to buy a house and see more of New Zealand. (First published on October 3.)

Hari and his wife have had received job offers from a hospital in the United States, which would help them with the immigration process. They felt they were being welcomed there with open arms while New Zealand was not interested in keeping them.

They were nervous about the US’ Covid-19 response and gun violence, but had to make the move regardless.

Andrew Craig, an immigration policy manager at the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, said the 2021 resident visa was not the only pathway to residence in this country.

The skilled migrant category visa was another option, but expressions of interest (EOI) for this visa would not reopen until July 2022, he said. In the meantime, migrants could apply for the essential skills visa to remain in New Zealand temporarily.

“We expect there will be fewer EOIs in the pool as a result of people choosing to apply for and being granted the 2021 resident visa.

“This will have a flow on effect on processing time frames for applications made under the skilled migrant category.”

*Not his real name.

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