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NZ schools to move tests online

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is marking the new era in the education sector of the country with the trial of its first online tests.

NZQA will trial NCEA level one maths test online at 20 schools in September with the help of an outsourced company – Education Perfect.

This is the common assessment administered at the end-of-year NCEA exam season.

However, there are concerns about the use of a contractor for conducting the test. The news of the online trial was first released on social media by the contractor, raising concerns over the loss of control in the crucial education sector.

President of the Post Primary Teachers Association Angela Roberts has already expressed her reservations about NZQA’s use of the private sector to deliver school exams, in a radio interview.


Lifestyle News Study Abroad

NZ launches online tool for depression

Depression among youth

Depression among youth

New Zealand has launched SPARX – a clinically tested self-help tool developed especially for young New Zealanders.

The online game-style tool developed by Auckland University will help young people develop skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed.

An initiative of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, SPARX is a welcome tool in a country with 20% depressed youth.

“We know mental health is a big issue for teenagers with around one in five young people experiencing some form of problem during adolescence,” says Prime Minister John Key.

“It’s important that they can get help when they need it,” says John.

SPARX is designed to fill a treatment gap with young people who may not currently be seeking help. Users can access, register and start using SPARX independently and anonymously in their own time – making help available to more young people around New Zealand.

As an e-therapy SPARX has been widely tested with young people in New Zealand and has been found to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.

A study in the British Medical Journal in 2012 found use of SPARX resulted in a ‘clinically significant’ reduction in depression, anxiety and an improvement in quality of life.

SPARX is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which teaches skills to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, including behaviours important in protecting against depression – problem solving, being active, positive cognition, social skills, and relaxation.

It is also designed to fit alongside other forms of mental health treatment including face to face therapy, medication, family therapy and working on other issues in the young person’s life, like dealing with bullying, and addressing alcohol or drug abuse.

Recording artist Stan Walker is supporting the launch by allowing his latest single ‘Bully’ to be used to get the SPARX message out to young people.

The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project was launched in April 2012 and is investing $62 million over four years in a range of initiatives to improve youth mental health, delivered in schools, online, through communities and health services.

(Photo credit: Deviant Art)

Immigration News Study Abroad

With perfect SAT score, Indian boy gets calls from top US varsities

score SAT

Arunavha Chanda scored a perfect SAT score

A 19-year-old boy from the city has received admission offers from seven top US varsities, most of them Ivy League, after achieving a perfect score in SAT, the standardized examination for admission to American colleges.

Arunavha Chanda, who appeared for this year’s class XII board examination from Delhi Public School Ruby Park, is so baffled that he can’t make up his mind with just nine days to go before the deadline.

Torn between Harvard, Stanford and Columbia University, Arunavha wishes he could study at all three. “Time is ticking but I haven’t been able to decide yet because it may turn out to be the most crucial decision of my life,” he told TOI.



Business Study Abroad

PM’s scholarship open for NZ execs

Study at Harvard

New Zealand-based senior executives and business owners keen to gain international exposure can expect to get government funding through the 2014 Prime Minister’s Business Scholarships.

The recipients of last year’s 10 scholarships studied at prestigious international institutions such as Stanford, INSEAD (The Business School For The World), Harvard, and the London Business School.

Study at Harvard

The scholarships are designed to grow skills and business capability to make New Zealand firms more internationally competitive, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

“The knowledge gained from the world’s top business schools by our senior executives will benefit the companies they return to and in turn, help to grow the New Zealand economy and jobs,” Steven says.

“Our distance from overseas markets and the size of our economy can be a challenge to firms wanting to enter international markets. The scholarships help to develop the global mindset of our business leaders.

“Many of our smaller companies can have difficulty when expanding into overseas markets because they lack the knowledge or contacts.

“These scholarships provide an opportunity for recipients to learn best international practices and develop valuable networks they can bring back to their business. I encourage smaller firms to apply for the scholarships.”

Applications for Asia-Pacific learning institutions are given preference. This region offers the most potential for New Zealand to increase exports and build networks and distribution channels.

The scholarships cover up to 50 per cent of course-related costs. Applications for the scholarships close on 30 April. For more information, visit the ministry’s website.

What does the scholarship cover

The government will reimburse half of the course costs and other study-related costs.  All study-related costs can include:

  • course fees
  • airfares (economy)
  • accommodation
  • other costs such as textbooks.

 Who can apply

Applicants must be:

  • New Zealand citizens or permanent residents
  • working in a New Zealand-based registered company which is looking to internationalise or intensify their operations overseas
  • applying for a course relevant to their work (minimum of four weeks) at an internationally-recognised institution
  • returning to their business after the course.

(Photo credit: Rachael Voorhees)


Immigration News Study Abroad Work Abroad

Spouses of H1B holders can work

Spouses of H1B visa holders will soon be allowed to work in the United States, as the country gets ready to boost entrepreneurship in an effort to drive the US economy out of a seven-year-long recession.

jobs in US

The White House, in a statement, says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will soon release new US immigration policy aimed at making “the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness. ”

As part of the immigration reforms that began last year with a draft bill, the US will authorize employment for “spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers.

The DHS is also launching Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs a way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States.

Currently, the US issues 65,00 H1B visas, many of which are issued to Indian techies. This number is soon likely to triple to 180,000.

Many Indians are likely to benefit from the immigration rules for working and living in the United States.

Indian outsourcing companies have been lobbying to increase the 65,000 limit on U.S. companies to sponsor foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree for a H-1B visa.

When the limit is reached, the American Citizenship and  Immigration Services randomly selects visa applicants.

As many as 30% of these H1B visas are issued to Indian companies based in the United States. Hiring a local subcontractor from the US is reportedly twice as expensive as sending a techie from India.

Before anyone gets excited, read the statement again. The H1B waiver to work for spouses may not apply to all categories. It may be limited to spouses from the science, technology and research sectors.

What is an H-1B visa?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, US employers  temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. These technical staff are allowed to work in the United states under the H-1B non-immigrant visa in the United States.

When an H-1B visa holder quits the job, they can get their visa status changed to another another non-immigrant status, or find another employer. If either of these options are not available, the H-1B visa holder has to leave the country.

Which family members are allowed under H1B visa?

Spouse and dependent children under 21 years of age are issued H-4 visa. Under an H-4 visa, spouse and children can study in the US, but they are not permitted to work. Also, they are not allocated a social security number. However, H-4 visa holders are allowed to open bank account and obtain a driver’s license.

Alternatively, family members may apply for a non-immigrant visa – for example, the spouse may apply for an H1B visa, and children may apply for F-1 which is students’ visa.

(Photo credit: US Army)


Immigration News Study Abroad

Kiwis wish to learn Chinese, but choose French

Learn Chinese, Japanese

Learning Chinese is crucial for success


Kiwis are interested in learning the Chinese and the Japanese language, according to a recent survey.


(See video at the end of the article to learn beginner’s Chinese online.)

The Asia New Zealand Foundation’s annual Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples in 2013 survey has found that New Zealanders consider Chinese the most valuable foreign language to learn.

Almost all (93 percent) people polled in the survey thought it was valuable to learn another language. Of those, 64 percent thought Chinese would be valuable to learn, followed by Japanese (31 percent) and Spanish (22 percent).

People felt it was worthwhile to learn Chinese because of New Zealand’s trade links, the fact it is a widely spoken language, and because they felt it would enable New Zealanders to understand Chinese people more easily.

The survey reveals a gap between the languages considered the most valuable to learn and those widely taught in New Zealand schools. Chinese is the fifth most commonly studied language in New Zealand secondary schools.

Foreign language learning in New Zealand secondary schools (2012)

  • French – 22,379
  • Japanese – 12,473
  • Spanish – 11,372
  • German – 4,663
  • Chinese – 2,849
  • Indonesian – 0
  • Korean – 0

The survey shows a clear discrepancy between those who think Chinese is important to learn, and those who are actually learning it, says Asia New Zealand Foundation director of research Dr Andrew Butcher.

“It also reveals a gap between New Zealanders’ recognition of the importance of Asia to New Zealand’s future, and their confidence in interacting with the region.”

Four out of five people (80 percent) polled in the 2013 survey believed Asia was important to New Zealand, up from 77 percent in 2012. But two-thirds said they knew only a little or almost nothing about the region.

The Foundation had been carrying out regular research since 1997 to measure perceptions of the peoples and countries of Asia.

This latest survey shows an increased desire among New Zealanders to learn more about the cultures, traditions and languages of Asia, says Asia New Zealand Foundation chairman Philip Burdon.

“This cultural understanding is going to be increasingly important if New Zealand is to have constructive long-term relationships with Asian countries.”

New Zealanders surveyed want more Asian investment in New Zealand, with ownership and control retained by Kiwis.

Most New Zealanders (75 percent) agreed it was good for the New Zealand economy to have Asian companies investing in New Zealand businesses – an increase of five percentage points since last year.

However, those interviewed in a follow-up forum felt that ownership and control of assets and organisations should remain in New Zealand.

The survey also found that nationally, New Zealanders were more likely to disagree (43 percent) that rising house prices were due to Asian people buying properties. But the opposite was true in Auckland – Aucklanders were more likely to agree (46 percent) that Asian people were responsible for rising house prices.

Another report by the Royal Society of New Zealand – Languages in Aotearoa New Zealand – highlights New Zealand’s “superdiversity”, with more than 160 languages spoken.

But the report also reveals the need for a coordinated approach to language learning and teaching.

Asia New Zealand Foundation executive director John McKinnon says it is vital for New Zealand’s economic, cultural, and political interests that Asian languages are more widely taught in New Zealand.

“Parents need to see to that having their children learn Asian languages will improve their future prospects.”

Other countries are already developing policies to boost the availability of Asian languages in schools, he says. The Australian Government’s 2012 Australia in the Asian Century white paper outlined requirements for every school to teach a priority Asian language.

“Even countries outside the Asia-Pacific are looking at Asian languages,” John says. “The Swedish government has asked its National Education Agency to develop a new curriculum for Chinese in its schools.

“Countries across the world are now investing in Asian languages. This is a wake-up call for New Zealand.”

The Royal Society’s paper points out that research has shown learning another language at school improves performance right across the curriculum.

The number of New Zealand children learning Chinese has grown steadily in the past decade, but only a minority of schools offer the language, says John.

Meanwhile, other key Asian languages are barely taught in New Zealand at all.

Of particular concern is Indonesian, says John. Indonesia is New Zealand’s nearest Asian neighbour, the world’s fourth most populous country, and has a rapidly growing economy.

“But Ministry of Education statistics show no New Zealand secondary students were studying Indonesian last year.”

John, who learnt Chinese while working as a diplomat, says improved access to Asian languages does not have to come at the expense of European languages. The Asia New Zealand Foundation would like to see all New Zealand children having access to choices for foreign languages, as well as te reo Māori.

However, shortage of teachers is a major issue in teaching Asian languages in New Zealand. “Obviously this is not going to happen immediately, but we need to take a medium-term approach and invest in the future of our children.”

According to the ministry of education, New Zealand’s two other official languages (other than English) – te reo Māori and New Zealand sign language – are included in curriculum, along with Chinese, Cook Islands Māori, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Samoan, Spanish, Tokelauan, Tongan and ‘Vagahau Niue (Niuean).

 Photo: Ivan Walsh


Immigration News Study Abroad

Learn English: How to pronounce consonants

As a native speaker of the English language, I find it difficult to understand many traps that are set by the language for those that need to learn its twists and turns later in life.

English has become the language of importance and success for many nationalities in the world, and it can be a difficult language to master.

Learning the right way to pronounce words is a useful skill in job interviews, customer service roles as well as in sales and marketing.

English online training

As the head tutor at Enzedspeak, an online training school for the English language,  I have identified some of the most common problems in learning the language, both in general and specifically for New Zealand.

  • Grammar
  • Articles (a, an, the) and Prepositions (in, on, at, etc.)
  • Listening and speaking
  • Consonants

Let’s look at the correct ways of pronouncing consonants in the English language.

Dropped consonants

Now, you know how to pronounce final consonant sounds in English, but sometimes it’s better to skip them, especially in fast speech. Let’s look at when this skipping should be done and with which consonants.

Final consonant is when a word ends with a consonant rather than a vowel.

Grant – pronounced Gran.

When a word ends with a consonant, and is followed by a word beginning with a consonant we drop the final consonant in favour of the beginning consonant e.g. ‘Grant went to the shop’ is pronounced ‘Gran wen to the shop’.

Intonation and stress

Intonation and stress are the key to speaking English fluently with good pronunciation. Intonation and stress are the music of the English language. Words that are stressed are key to understanding, and using the correct intonation brings out the meaning.

Read this: “The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.” (14 syllables) beau/ti/ful Moun/tain a/ppeared trans/fixed dis/tance. (11 clear syllables) Time required? Probably about 5 seconds.

Try another one: “He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn’t have to do any homework in the evening.” (23 syllables) come Sun/day’s does/n’t home/work eve/ning (9 clear syllables) Time required? Probably about 5 seconds.

Though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are five stressed words in each sentence. From this example, you can see that you needn’t worry about pronouncing every word clearly to be understood. Native speakers certainly don’t.

As a former recruitment specialist, I am able to recognise when a CV belongs to someone from India or China simply by the anglicised names chosen, and by the old fashioned but perfect vocabulary and grammar used.

What not to get offended by

In some western cultures, the use of vulgar language is not only common, but readily accepted and can be a little shocking at first. There are few options to prepare students for this, and I  believe that early exposure to this type of language can help greatly.

(Prue Jarvis is the head tutor at Enzedspeak, anonline school that helps immigrants to New Zealand improve their English. Prue also teaches the English language to students and organizations around the world.)

Immigration News Study Abroad Work Abroad

Ex-immigration lawyer charged for fraud

work visa Canada

Richard James Martin has been charged with providing immigration advice without being licensed.

New Zealand’s Immigration Advisers Authority has brought four charges against the former immigration lawyer in Auckland’s the North Shore District Court following an investigation.

Richard of Richard Martin Immigration Limited, was charged under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act with three counts of providing immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt; and one count of receiving a fee or reward for such advice.

The 48-year former immigration lawyer, who helped entertainer Michael Barrymore to obtain residency in New Zealand, entered not guilty pleas in the court on 18 December 2013.

work visa Canada

New Zealand’s green environs attract many people to move to and work in New Zealand.

Registrar of Immigration Advisers Barry Smedts said: “These charges are part of the Authority’s ongoing work targeting people giving immigration advice unlawfully.”

Barry urged people to choose their immigration adviser wisely.

“Licensed immigration advisers are skilled people who have met immigration adviser competency standards and who follow a code of conduct.

People acting unlawfully can be incompetent and have no obligation to treat migrants ethically.”

Licensed immigration advisers are listed on the Authority’s online register at

Richard has been remanded on bail till 7 February 2014. This is not the first time that Richard has found himself on the wrong side of the law. In 2011, the Authority had brought 91 immigration-related charges against him for alleged offences between 2009 and 2010.

Earlier in 2009, Richard was convicted for stealing money from his former employer, and was sentenced to five months home detention, according to a report in Lawyer’s Weekly. Subsequently, the New Zealand Law Society struck him off the lawyer’s register.

Anyone considering seeking immigration advice from a lawyer is advised to check the New Zealand Law Society’s online register. This will confirm the person they are hiring holds a current practising certificate.

Anyone looking for immigration attorney for New Zealand should check the Immigration Advisers Authority online register to find a licensed immigration advocate. The register contains an international list of licensed immigration advisers and can be consulted either online or by contacting the Immigration Advisers Authority directly on New Zealand freephone 0508 422 422 (from within New Zealand).

The Immigration Advisers Authority issues licences to people who are competent to give immigration advice. If you have any complaint against licensed immigration advisers in New Zealand, contact the authority which investigates people giving immigration advice without a licence or exemption.

The Immigration New Zealand website provides detailed information about:

Immigration Study Abroad Work Abroad

Indian visa applicants unfairly treated by NZ

Work visa

Close to 500 visa applications from Indian couples declined by Immigration New Zealand will be re-assessed, following complaints to the Ombudsman.

The immigration authority had wrongly turned down the visa applications of the partners of Indian migrants, the Ombudsman found.

The investigation was caused by 14 complaints against Immigration NZ’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.

The immigration department has accepted the Ombudsman’s findings that the staff had put too much weight on ensuring applicants had incentives to return home.

The immigration department has contacted all potentially affected applicants and informed them if they were eligible for reassessment, says INZ area manager Michael Carley.

The New Zealand Immigration department has set up “a dedicated team of immigration officers not involved in any previous decisions relating to the cases” for the reassessment process.

INZ has also decided to reassess these applications “as a matter of priority by dedicated specialists” in India. INZ has also provided extra staff training.
Work visa

However, INZ’s handling of these cases was not taken lightly by immigration advisers and New Zealand’s leading professional association for immigration specialists, the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) who had made complaints to the Ombudsman.

These complaints related to cases where applicants were declined temporary entry class visas “despite appearing to comply with the requirements”, a statement from NZAMI said. “All were partners of student or work visa holders already here in New Zealand.”

Immigration New Zealand is currently notifying the 480 applicants who may have been affected to advise them of the review process and possible reassessment of their case or refunding of fees paid.

The initial assessments in India were very badly handled, says NZAMI chairperson, Walter Stone. “They show a lack of training and bias. This reflects poorly on Immigration New Zealand.”

“These potential migrants have applied for visas because our immigration policies allow for partners of foreign students and workers to come to New Zealand to join them.

“In the majority of cases the student partner has already come to New Zealand and invested tens of thousands of dollars in an education here.

Walter believes that the situation is worse for applications processed in India. “Partners applying through the Indian branches have been declined at much higher rates than through other branches, including China.

“It is precisely this inconsistent and poor decision-making that impacts very negatively on the reputation of New Zealand as a migrant destination – not to mention the cost to taxpayers of re-opening over 480 cases.”

The adverse outcomes of these applications seem to contradict with the government’s  recently announced plans to encourage growth in education sector.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce had recently reiterated New Zealand’s commitment to international education which contributes $2.6 billion a year to NZ economy and 28,000 jobs for New Zealanders. “Plus it helps build strong linkages with the countries that are our trading future,” the minister had said.

Walter believes that allowing partners to join international students is a great way for New Zealand’s education sector to market courses to overseas students who pay around three times the fees of national students.

“Many of those students then go on to contribute through gaining skilled employment and working their way to becoming NZ residents,” says Walter.

Let us know if you were affected by an adverse immigration decision.

Check your eligibility to get a visa to New Zealand, on the Immigration NZ website.

For US visa applicants too, the process to obstaining a visa and staying with the spouse in the U.S. is not easy.

“You’re engaged or married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and all you want is the right to be together in the U.S. Should be easy, right? It’s not,” says Ilona Bray J.D., author of “Fiancé & Marriage Visas: A Couple’s Guide to US Immigration”.

“Information can be hard to find, the government bureaucracy isn’t helpful, delays are inevitable.”

To help prospective US visa applicants, Ilona wrote the book Finance and Marriage Visas which attempts to make obtaining a visa and green card as painless as possible. “It helps you make sure you’re truly eligible and decide the fastest and best application strategy — whether you’re married or unmarried, living in the U.S. or overseas.

Buy now your copy from Amazon: “Fiancé & Marriage Visas: A Couple’s Guide to US Immigration” (Affiliate link.)

Immigration Study Abroad Work Abroad

Immigration scam exposed in New Zealand

An immigration fraudster in New Zealand faces a possible jail term after an investigation by the Immigration Advisers Authority uncovered a $100,000 immigration scam.

Tengyu (Nick) Yuan, a New Zealand citizen from Albany, admitted providing immigration advice illegally to six migrants at Auckland District Court. The court heard Tengyu, director of Auckland City-based Noahark Consultant Limited, took large sums from migrants promising to secure them visas, only to carry out little or no work.

The 36-year-old pleaded guilty to six charges of providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a fine of $100,000 under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act.

Under the Act anyone providing New Zealand immigration advice must be licensed by the Authority unless exempt. Exempt persons include lawyers.

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up to protect people receiving New Zealand immigration advice.

Anyone seeking help from an immigration adviser, consultant or agent is urged to check the Authority’s register of licensed immigration advisers.

The register contains an international list of licensed immigration advisers and can be checked either online or by contacting the Immigration Advisers Authority directly on freephone (from New Zealand) 0508 422 422.

Immigration News Study Abroad

Job course launched for international students

student visa new zealand

International students in New Zealand can now benefit from a programme aimed at assisting them in their search for skilled employment positions.

The Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) has launched a seven-week employment support programme for international students.

Barbra Estall, an international student, who will be graduating this July with a bachelor’s degree in interpreting, believes that targeted job search skills and NZ workplace knowledge are vital for her career prospects.

student visa new zealand

“The work culture in New Zealand is very different from Tahiti,” says Barbra. “Back home, you can get into full employment without any work experience. Over here, job search knowledge and work experience count much more. As a student, I am not aware of what is required in this country – interview skills, work place communication, CV and cover letter writing – when applying for jobs.”

New Zealand approved 68,980 student visas last year, according to figures released by Immigration New Zealand.  Students who complete at least a two-year New Zealand qualification can apply for a graduate job search visa to help them transit from study to work and then to residency.

“There is a clear gap in employment preparation and support for many international students, wishing to apply their higher learning in skilled employment,” says Dr Mary Dawson, ARMS Chief Executive.

The ARMS Certificate in Employment Search and Work Preparation consists of seven units delivered in three hour sessions. Four of the units are specifically designed to enhance the communication skills of the students as they relate to job searching and employment. There are places still available for the first course, starting Friday May 3rd. The cost is $160 per participant.

Study in New Zealand

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Canada launches online tool for new migrants

jobs in vancouver

Canada has launched a new guide and web tool to help newcomers settle and integrate in the country.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s new publication, Welcome to Canada, will assist immigrants in preparing to come to Canada and to help them navigate their way during their first months.

“The new edition shows our commitment to helping the citizens of tomorrow experience a smoother transition into their new community and into the Canadian workforce,” says Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

Twice as long as the previous edition, the new guide is developed in consultation with several federal partners and experts in the field of integration, and has been reviewed by new immigrants.

jobs in vancouver

The guide features practical information on many different topics including how to access language classes, basic information about Canada’s education system, laws and the justice system, the labour market and much more.

For the first time, the Welcome to Canada guide includes examples of immigrants to Canada who have successfully integrated. The guide was enriched by advice and anecdotes from Nick Noorani, himself an immigrant and an expert who specializes in immigrant integration and career outcomes.

“Canada has given me more than I could ever have dreamed of,” says Nick. “And through my experiences I can help future immigrants succeed in Canada and this guide is a big part of that.”

This is the first time the Welcome to Canada guide has been revamped since it was first introduced in 1997. Like  Discover Canada citizenship study guide, Welcome to Canada is available in PDF or E-book format.

Similarly, the immigration department launched another interactive tool – Living in Canada Tool, also intended for newcomers. The new tool comes on the heels of the success of the Come to Canada Wizard, the online immigration assessment and application tool,

The Living in Canada Tool produces a semi-customized settlement plan filled with tips, next steps, and useful links based on user responses to the initial questionnaire. Users can also find local immigrant-serving organizations with the integrated Find Services map, and can bring with them their customized settlement plan for additional, personalized support.

To help newcomers integrate, the Government has tripled settlement funding since 2005-06 and remains committed to ensuring the distribution of settlement funding is fair, that immigrants receive the same level of service, regardless of where they choose to settle, says the immigration minister.

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UK, NZ, OZ to share visa office in Singapore


Australian and New Zealand clients in Singapore will receive better access to immigration services through a new, first-of-a-kind visa centre from 25 March.

Both countries’ immigration departments today announced details of the first Five Country Conference (FCC) shared visa application centre (VAC) there.

Australia and New Zealand will share the facility with the United Kingdom.

The FCC nations of Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the United States work together to enhance security and efficiency of their immigration services.


A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the VAC would provide more convenient access to immigration and citizenship services for clients in this region.

“These services will include extended operating hours with phones open until 5pm weekdays, and internet kiosks with an online application tracking facility so clients can view the status of their applications,” the spokesman said.

“All applications will continue to be assessed and decided by immigration staff at both the Australian and New Zealand high commissions. VAC staff will not be involved in decisions or have any knowledge of application outcomes.”

The spokesman says the use of shared visa application facilities would lead to improved services for clients of each country and would also achieve greater efficiencies through shared infrastructure and staffing.

“Savings achieved this way are ultimately able to be passed on to our clients,” the spokesman says.

Each country has agreed to share a global network of visa application centres.

From 25 March, the visa application centre in Singapore will be located at 20 Cecil Street, #11-02 to 05 Equity Plaza, Singapore 049705.

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Australia Immigration to meet overstayers

Migrate to Australia

Australia’s immigration officials will be visiting smaller cities in New South Wales, speaking to people who do not have a valid Australian visa and discuss with them any issues they might be facing.

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) officers will visit south-west NSW from 18 to 21 March and provide immigration information to people who have overstayed their visas, as well as local service providers and community leaders.

Migrate to Australia

In some cases, the team from the department’s Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS) section will be able to issue temporary visas (short-term bridging visas).

The team will meet local communities around Buronga, Euston, Murray Downs and Moama.

“This enables people in communities outside capital cities, who do not have a valid Australian visa or are currently on a bridging visa, to speak face-to-face with an immigration officer about specific issues they might be facing,” a departmental spokesperson says.

The team will be joined by staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an independent organisation which provides assistance for eligible people to return home. IOM staff will be available to discuss the services they provide and who is eligible.

“The department is committed to ensuring the integrity of Australia’s migration and visa programs: people must have a valid visa to remain in the country,” the spokesperson says.

Individual appointments will be available at the Alcheringa Sporting Club, Carramar Drive, Buronga, from 9.30am to 4pm on 18 March.

Staff will also be available at the Euston Oval Community Centre, off Carey Street (Sturt Highway), Euston, from 9.30am to 4pm on 19 March.

They will also be available at Swan Hill Conference Centre, Lot 5, Murray Downs Drive, Murray Downs, from 9.30am to 4pm on 20 March.

The team will then visit Moama Bowling Club (The Pavilion), 6 Shaw Street, Moama, and will be available from 10am to 4pm on 21 March.

To book an appointment, contact the CSRS on 02 6195 6146. Walk-ins are also welcome. For more information, visit DIAC website.

Immigration News Study Abroad

Refugee shines with new lease of life

He was only seven years old – sailing on a fishing boat carrying Afghans away from the suppressive regime of the Taliban.

On the fretful day of 26 August in 2001, the boat began to sink. Abbas Nazari, now 17, was one of the 430 people, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, rescued by a Norwegian freight carrier – Tampa.

New Zealand accepted 131 of these people, including Abbas, as refugees, and gave them an opportunity to start all over again.

Ten years later on, Abbas is in his final year at Burnside High School in Christchurch, plays rugby for the school team, and plans to take on study in law and political science at university next year, reports the Office of Ethnic Affairs in its latest newsletter.

He also received the prestigious Russell McVeagh Scholarship for School Leavers and has also been awarded the University of Canterbury Emerging Leaders Scholarship for General Excellence.

Abbas exemplifies what is possible if opportunities are provided to refugees.
He says his life changed forever when the Tampa skipper Arne Rinnan picked them up from the sinking boat.

He credits his parents’ courage, determination and support as the foundation on which his academic achievements are based.

One award he is particularly proud of is coming third in the New Zealand National Spelling bee at the age of 12, after being in the country only five years.

During his visit to the Office of Ethnic Affairs ministry, Abbas spoke about the different Afghan ethnicities and how his own, Hazāra face additional hardships.

The Hazāra face particular discrimination by the Taliban for their ethnicity and for their religion – most are Shi’a Muslim.

(Input from the newsletter of the Office of Ethnic Affairs.)

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NZ signs joint initiatives with India


A New Zealand India Research Institute was one of five memoranda of understanding signed between New Zealand and Indian institutions. The other MoUs covered areas such as vocational training, joint research training, student exchanges and ICT.

Collaboration and trade between New Zealand and India in the aviation sector is also set to grow following the signing of the India New Zealand Aviation Arrangement in New Delhi, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

The agreement was signed by the New Zealand High Commissioner Jan Henderson and the Indian Secretary of Civil Aviation KN Srivastava and was witnessed by Steven and India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, Ajit Singh.

India is predicted to jump from the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world to the third by 2020.

Domestic traffic in India is expected to grow from 46 million to 90 million passengers per year, with international traffic soaring from 34 million to 90 million in the same period.

“This rapidly growing market provides massive opportunities for New Zealand companies involved in aviation,” says Steven.

“It will encourage greater training and technical cooperation in aviation, including in the design and building of airports in India and flight training for Indian students in New Zealand.”

Indian Officer in Royal New Zealand Air Force

Indian Officer Beer Bains in Royal New Zealand Air Force (Image courtesy –


The New Zealand minister visited India with a delegation of nine New Zealand aviation companies. “He is also in India leading a delegation to lift New Zealand’s profile as a destination for international students and to support our tertiary institutions and companies seeking to grow their business in the Indian market,” says a statement from the minister’s office.

The minister also announced the the establishment of the New Zealand India Research Institute, to promote a closer research relationship between the two countries.

The New Zealand India Research Institute will be administratively based at Victoria University in Wellington and will include 40 academics in five New Zealand universities – Victoria, Auckland, Massey, Canterbury and Otago.

“The Institute will allow our two countries to learn more about each other through a greater level of joint research, post-graduate studies and staff exchanges,” says the minister.

The focus of the Institute will be on five areas: society and culture; migration; economics and business, environment and sustainability; and politics and security. In 2013 the Institute proposes to hold a major international conference in Wellington on one of those areas.


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Immigration advisor fined $280,000

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A former immigration adviser in New Zealand has been ordered to pay more than a quarter of a million dollars by a tribunal for “calculated” and “systematic dishonesty”.

Glen William Standing must pay nearly $280,000 in refunds, penalties and compensation – the highest amount demanded from a single person by the Licensed Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

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The Immigration Advisers Authority confirmed 19 former clients had made complaints against Glen – the highest number of complaints the Authority had received against a single person.

Two of the 19 complaints were upheld last year and in August 2011 Geln had his licence cancelled for providing incorrect advice.

The remaining 17 complaints were upheld in August this year.

The Tribunal found Glen had tried various ways to persuade clients to part with excessive fees, including making false claims that:

he provided his services as “an immigration law firm”

could 100% guarantee the client New Zealand residency and

he could be prosecuted if he didn’t secure the visa.

The Immigration Advisers Authority website shows that in 2011-12 the average fees charged by a licensed immigration adviser for residence visas ranged from $2,790, for those applying under the Family (Partner) category, to $3,810 for skilled migrants. Glen charged his 17 clients an average of $7,904.

Liquidators found Glen, the Nelson-based director of Golden Sands Migration Limited and former director of liquidated immigration consultancy Living New Zealand Limited had acquired around $635,000 in fees from overseas clients for work that had not been completed.

Authority Registrar of Immigration Advisers Barry Smedts urged consumers to read the Immigration Advice Consumer Guide.

“Potential migrants about to spend a large amount of money on a life-changing decision need to read our Consumer Guide before hiring an immigration adviser,” says Barry.

“Here they will find everything they need to know. There’s even a checklist so they can make sure their adviser is providing them with all the right documents.”

The Tribunal found Glen “personally tailored a deceitful misrepresentation for the individual client”.

The chair said: “The deceit was not puffery or exaggeration; it was calculated dishonesty for personal gain.

His objective was to solicit fees, with the intention of not delivering the services the clients were promised, and paid for.”

As a result of Glen’s promises, a Japanese woman resigned from her job, cancelled the tenancy of her apartment in Osaka and started having a house built in New Zealand only to be detained at the border and forced to explain why she was attempting to enter the country.

Another couple spent $100,000 relocating with their family and establishing a business only to discover their ability to remain in the country depended on their business having the potential to trade profitably within 12 months.

A Bangladeshi student was told there was a “free flight offer” and “a large volume of interest” from Christchurch employers for post-earthquake work. And another man, living in Spain, was told that finding employment was “the least of his worries” and that there were 132 vacancies.

Several of Glen’s clients lived in the United Kingdom and met him at organised events.

The Tribunal chair said: “In many, if not all, cases the fees Glen solicited came from clients who could ill afford to lose money they had put aside to pursue a major lifestyle ambition for themselves and their family.”

Glen was censured and prevented from reapplying for a licence for two years.

How to choose an immigration advisor?

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up in May 2008 to regulate immigration advice both nationally and internationally.

Under the Immigration Licensing Act 2007 anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence unless they are exempt. Exempt people include lawyers and those working at Citizens’ Advice Bureaus among others.

For more information, read Immigration Advice Consumer Guide

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NZ students protest outside PM’s conference


Many groups from New Zealand’s education sector protested against education budget cuts by the National-led government in Auckland. New Zealand students marched from Auckland’s Britomart to SkyCity Convention Centre, where Prime Minister is attending the National Party Conference.

The ‘Show and Tell’ protest was an opportunity for a range of groups to “show their discontent and tell the truth about attacks on education,” say the organisers. The representatives of the PPTA, NZEI and student movement groups spoke about the impact of the government’s education cuts on their sectors.

Teachers are the experts in education, says Lynley Hunter, Auckland Regional Chairperson of the PPTA. “Ask them how to improve education for everyone.”

Frances Guy from the NZEI says the changes were “about privatisation, charter schools, league tables and performance pay,” and that “every child is entitled to the best teachers.”

One parent of three special-needs children says, “only one in 100 children who apply for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding get it.”

Representing tertiary students, Jai Bentley-Payne, a postgraduate student and tutor in the sociology department at the University of Auckland, believes that students are not included in the government plans.

“Every time we hear about the plans of our government, they are notable for who is not included. Students are not included. Workers are not included. Poor people are not included. Women are not included. The marginalised, harassed and dispossessed are not included.

“Thousands more students will be forced to borrow to eat. Fifteen percent already live in absolute financial distress.

“We have some of the highest fees in the world, and $13 billion worth of student debt. We have forgotten what education is for. It is not a private investment scheme, it is for all of us to solve the big problems we face together.”

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New Zealander finalist at Miss Pakistan World title

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

A Pakistan-born and New Zealand-bred girl is taking part in Miss Pakistan World contest next month. This will be the first time New Zealand will be represented at the controversial beauty pageant which is now in its 10th year. Over the years, the participants and organisers of Miss Pakistan World have attracted death threats.

Maria Mughal, an AUT Business School student, will fly to Toronto in Canada to participate in the pageant, which has never been held in Pakistan since its launch. The winner of the title will represent Pakistan in Miss Earth contest.

Like most girls her age, you will generally hear her talking about “the latest gadgets, and Korean pop and fashion trends,” as she puts it, but probe a little deeper, and you will come across a determined young woman not willing to limit her horizons by her complex upbringing.

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

Born in Kashmir in Pakistan, the 23-year old came to New Zealand with her parents when she was three years old, and struggled to find a balance between her Pakistan and New Zealand values – something that she felt a strong desire to disprove.

“Overcoming this polarity has made me the humble person that I am today,” says the South Auckland-raised girl, in an interview to The Global Indian magazine.

“The scars of my upbringing (are serving as) a reminder of what I would want to change if I had the power to do so.

“I’d like to show that I have found a balance between my Pakistani background and my western life.”

The pageant means “a new start in my life as a confident person”.

“I found it hard mentally, as a young person, to take upon the stress of my family issues,” says Maria.

“I found support within counselling services at school, to persevere through tough times and finish school.

Maria wants to support causes that help young women like her, that have difficult family backgrounds and would not get an equal chance to push for their dreams.

She has found value in discovering her roots.

“I have chosen to continue to learn about my heritage and still speak my mother tongue at home.”

She can read Arabic, and speak a mix of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

“I feel that if you don’t know where you come from, you won’t know who you are; it’s all about finding my identity.”

Maria is very close to her siblings – she is the eldest girl and has seven siblings. She takes her elderly role seriously. “I am constantly pushing them to dream big.”

Initially pursuing a bachelor of science, majoring in sports and exercise science and psychology, she took a break from study and worked in the fitness industry which gave her an opportunity to try her hands at marketing.

“With work experience behind me I changed to a business degree, and I am aiming to be back in the workforce early next year.”

If she won the title, she desires to promote Shakti Asian Women’s Support Group.

“They work with women to teach them what their rights (are), advocate for them and provide support when there is no one.”

Rachel Field, Maria’s friend, wants Maria’s story to show how “New Zealand’s multiculturalism has supported her to be proud of who she is and where she is from. That she would not have been able to do as much as she has in New Zealand as compared to growing up in Pakistan.”

Earlier in 2010, the winner of the pageant, Annie Rupani, known as “Ramadan Queen,” as she was crowned in the month of Ramadan, and the organisers of the event attracted extensive media coverage on the backdrop of massive floods in Pakistan that year.

The winner of Miss Pakistan World title  joined her father at the Rupani Foundation to create jobs, promote equity, and reduce poverty in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, particularly for women.

Annie came under criticism a year later for her vocal support of Veena Malik, a Pakistani actress who participated in an Indian Television show, Bigg Boss (an Indian version of reality show Big Brother).

In the early years of the pageant, fanatic groups and conservative people were against the beauty parade.

The idea of a beauty queen for Pakistan and a female representation of Pakistan was not well digested by the extremists, says Sonia Ahmad, the organiser of Miss Pakistan World title, who has received many threats over these years.

“From hate mail to threats over the phone, and long emails where Islam was explained to us, various forms and methods were used to make us stop. But I went head strong with all of them!” says Sonia in an interview to The Global Indian.

The beauty contest is funded by moderate Pakistanis and the South Asian community. Sonia hopes to use the pageant to showcase the lighter side of Pakistan.

“Pakistan needs to change and to do so, the people have to accept Miss Pakistan World as the only platform where Pakistani women can be patriotic, bold and strong!”

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NZ students to protest against education policy

A group of tertiary students is organising a protest near Auckland’s Britomart Transport Centre to express their discontent about New Zealand’s education policy.

New Zealand has the seventh highest tertiary fees in the world, and yet, the country’s young carry a student debt of $13 billion.

This protest, scheduled for 21 July at 1pm, is the latest in series of organized student protests against the National Government’s recent budget and market-based education policy.

Recently, the government announced $400 million in cuts to early childhood education and cuts to the student allowance scheme and arts funding.

The group of students behind the protests, Blockade the Budget, is extending the protest beyond tertiary students to include all those affected by budget cuts to the education sector.

The group claims that 15% of tertiary students in New Zealand live in absolute financial distress.

The group hopes to draw attention to some of the detrimental steps taken by the government including the damaging National Standards programme, performance-based pay for teachers and charter schools.

“We are bringing together a number of community groups, unions and educators,” says the protest organiser.

“All parties are invited to stand together in our struggle for the future of education in our country.

“This will be a large, festive demonstration. We want to creatively show our discontent and tell the truth about attacks on education, through a combination of a traditional protest march and family friendly street theatre.”

Anyone interested in joining the rally against education cuts are encouraged to meet at 1pm on Saturday 21 July at Britomart, Auckland CBD.