Ambiguity betrays Work Visa applicants

Arunima Dhingra

International students come to New Zealand for superior education experience and to pursue brighter career prospects.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) recognises that academic knowledge alone is not enough to produce qualified professionals.

To hone skills and bring real world context to the things a student learns in the classroom, it is important to gain valuable work experience.

New Zealand offers international students an opportunity to apply for graduate work experience visas, for finding a job and gain relevant experience so that they can eventually gain a pathway to residence in New Zealand.

Employer-assisted category

INZ instructions for Post Study – Employer Assisted Work Visa category (WD1) – specify that for grant of a visa under this category, an offer of employment must meet two key criteria: (a) Be relevant to the main subject area of the qualification (b) Be a key factor in employer’s decision to offer the applicant the role.

This visa category has caused confusion, misinterpretation and ambiguity amongst migrants, advisers and other stakeholders. INZ officials have raised concerns on ‘relevance’ between qualification gained and employment.

The Relevance Factor

While my immigration practice has had a good record of successful outcomes for many years, we notice a shift in the way assessment of ‘relevance’ is done in the past few months.

A Level 7 Business graduate with a job offer as an Assistant Manager in any retail or hospitality setting faces an uphill task of getting immigration officers to recognise the relevance between their qualification and employment.

I believe that the recent VisaPak on WD1 instructions play a major role; there are three examples of qualifications and job offers, categorised as ‘Relevant,’ ‘Maybe Relevant’ and ‘Not Relevant.’ The ‘Maybe Relevant’ category cites assistant managers and supervisors with management qualifications as an example.

It appears that to err on the side of caution, officers are assuming that most business graduates with mid-management roles do not meet the relevance requirement.

The other concern that assessing officers have with WD1 applications is whether the qualification was a key factor in the employer’s decision to recruit the applicant.

I believe that there may be a flaw in the way this is being discerned in multiple dozens of PPI/decline letters that we have seen in recent months.

Objective missed

Obviously, not all job descriptions match academic transcripts down to the letter, but that does not mean qualification is not the primary reason for the applicant being recruited.

On the contrary, a job description that closely matches with the applicant’s transcript should perhaps be questioned for authenticity and genuineness.

The main requirement for this visa is that the key responsibilities utilise skills acquired in the main subject area of the qualification. An IT graduate uses a wide range of IT skills in their day-to-day tasks as a Fibre technician, but did not learn to be a Fibre technician specifically in their course.

This visa aims to provide applicants with a pathway to skilled employment, not place them directly into that skilled employment.

INZ should revisit WD1 instructions and assessment procedure to determine why there is such an inconsistency and ambiguity in the decision-making process.

I invite other practitioners to share their experience on this instruction to open a discussion on this topic and get some varied views and perspectives.

Arunima Dhingra is Director and a Fully Licensed Immigration Advisor at Aims Global Education and Immigration Services. The above is a highly edited version of an article that appeared in ‘Aims Global Newsletter’ dated June 27, 2017. For full text, please visit www. aimsglobal.co.nz. Aims Global Education and Immigration Services is the joint sponsor with ‘The Fund Master,’ of the ‘Best Accountant of the Year’ Category of the Tenth Annual Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards. The Company shifted its office to a more spacious premises at 107C Great South Road, Epsom, Auckland on May 29, 2017.

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