Migrant points system under review after student case
New Zealand Herald
Monday July 10, 2006
By Paula Oliver
An immigration policy which saw Chinese woman Candy Huang miss out on bonus residency points because she studied too fast is under examination and could be changed.
The Department of Labour has told the Herald that the policy – which grants 10 bonus points to residency applicants for completing two years of study in New Zealand – is under scrutiny as part of a wider review of the rules around skilled migrant entry.
Officials are considering whether the bonus point provision “should be amended”, said Stephen Dunstan, the Department of Labour's Immigration policy manager. Any change would require Cabinet approval.
The fresh information emerged after Ms Huang, 24, provided a written waiver to allow the Immigration Service to discuss her case with the media.
In a story published last week, Ms Huang outlined how she attended summer school and took on a heavy course load to complete a two-year business diploma in 16 months.
She was keen to apply for residency in New Zealand, and thought she would qualify for the 10 bonus points because her course was recognised as a two-year qualification.
However, Immigration Service staff refused to grant her the points because she did not study for two years, as the policy required.
Ms Huang does still get 50 points for her qualification, while she is also eligible for 30 points for her age and 10 points for her partner's qualification. But without the bonus points she is 10 short of the 100 needed to submit an expression of interest for residency under the skilled migrant category.
Ms Huang has described the situation as “ridiculous” and feels she is being punished for working hard.
The Department of Labour is currently assessing an application for residency from Ms Huang, which was made after an immigration officer originally awarded her the 10 bonus points in error.
The department repeated statements that immigration officers have no discretion to make exceptions to the policies.
Mr Dunstan also said that applicants under the skilled migrant category can receive an additional 50 points if their offer of employment is considered skilled. The preliminary view of immigration staff is that Ms Huang's job at the New Zealand Institute of Education – where her duties include interpreting and marketing local education to students in other countries – falls short of this hurdle.
Ms Huang's consultant is contesting this view, and has written to Immigration Minister David Cunliffe to also protest about the 10 bonus points she has missed out on.
A spokesman for Mr Cunliffe said he would not comment on individual cases.