OPINION: I am just another migrant from a developing country. I came to New Zealand on a student visa in 2017, hoping to change my future.
I studied a Master of Architecture (professional) at the Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland.
This is one of the most competitive courses in New Zealand. I worked really hard to overcome all obstacles.
I remember all the cold winter walks to my accommodation 5 km away, because after 11:45 p.m. there was no more bus with all my architectural drawings and drawing tools.
It was an experience.
A real challenge, however, was during my senior semester when my grandfather died of old age.
The man who raised me was no more.
Fortunately, I was able to return home to attend his funeral within 20 hours.
The times were so depressing that my professors and thesis mentors asked me to extend the work.
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But I wasn’t ready to give up. I pushed myself to complete the thesis within the originally allotted time and graduated in 2019.
Eventually I became a New Zealand architecture graduate.
I come from a low to middle income family. Working was never an option for me. It was imperative.
I didn’t have a choice of choosing my job. I’ve worked wherever the job came up. I worked in a milk food packaging factory, as a midnight cleaner in a shopping center, weekend gardener for a lovely family in Remuera and as a factory assistant in a furniture company.
With my constant commitment, I was also able to take on some jobs that strengthened my résumé, such as an internship at a renowned architecture firm, a design internship at a renowned digital marketing company, a job as a construction worker and an assistant project manager position at a construction company.
Through these jobs I was able to acquire practical knowledge. All of these jobs were either minimum wage or voluntary.
But these jobs gave me a strong portfolio.
In the end there was a light.
After months of struggle, my hard work finally paid off in 2019 with a job as an architectural designer.
This job is a dream come true. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to design more than 75 residential buildings in less than two years.
It’s a big step in my career. In this current job I design conceptual plans, views, do 3D renderings and print 3D models of houses that I have designed.
How cool is my job
People might say I was lucky to get this job. But this opportunity didn’t just fall into my hands.
I worked really hard to get my job.
Nothing in my life is due to happiness. I don’t believe in luck, but I believe in hard work.
I now have a long-distance relationship. It was eight years ago and the trend is rising. I met mine
Fiancée in 2013.
We fell in love quickly.
I wanted to be financially stable before asking her to marry me. After so many fights, I felt like I was doing well in New Zealand.
So I asked in 2019 and she said yes. Like the rest of my story, it wasn’t a smooth path.
Even the most anticipated proposal that I planned and booked was thrown.
From a helicopter ride in the mountains to photographers and a spa. The entire engagement party was booked.
I even designed the diamond engagement ring personally and had it specially made by a jeweler. All of my excitement went south than mine
The fiancée’s visitor visa was refused.
The reason: “We are not satisfied that you have strong intentions to return to your home country.”
One of many ways of immigration New Zealand rejects people from a developing country even though it has issued a multiple-entry tourist visa to Australia for a year.
Heartbroken but unwilling to give up, I moved my whole plan to Australia.
It wasn’t a big alpine commitment, but a modest, deep forest surprise. When the land of the long white cloud said no to us, the mighty blue mountains said yes.
What has changed today? I went home in January 2020 to receive my elders’ blessings on our wedding.
We have planned our wedding for July 2020. After that it went downhill.
Covid-19 happened, borders closed in March 2020. In November 2020 I submitted my expression of interest for a visa in the category Skilled workers for migrants with 185 points.
Based on my professional experience, I will receive an additional 20 points in October 2021.
The pool of expressions of interest is still closed, so it’s no use.
Without approval from Immigration New Zealand, the processing time will be unpredictable.
In addition, Immigration New Zealand has closed its office in my home country, India.
Suddenly everything in life became insecure.
To choose between family and job.
On the one hand, I cannot be with my fiancé because of border closings and we cannot show our union because we lack the typical evidence required by Immigration New Zealand.
Our chances of being together in New Zealand are getting smaller every day.
On the other hand, I have a wonderful, well-paid job, a boss who treats me like family (I spent the Christmas holidays with his whole family with his sister last year), friends and a community that loves me.
I even started saving up for a house that we will build for our future in New Zealand after I get my residence.
Another empty dream or a future that is ready.
We are forced to choose between our family and our job. Why can’t our visa have a pause button in these difficult times?
We could go home and take care of our families and loved ones. And then you return to New Zealand to continue our careers.
Most of us migrants are not afraid of losing our job or finding a new one, but of losing our chance to return to New Zealand when we leave.
What’s going on inside of me I don’t blame anyone in particular. I realize that I am just an unhappy person in a bad situation.
For me there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Life is suddenly so full of uncertainties that my mind feels like it is about to explode.
People who know me well tell me that I am very lucky because I have the willpower to move forward against all odds and not rely on chance.
But I don’t think I’m as lucky as I was before.
I feel uncomfortable and expendable with Immigration New Zealand changing their policies so frequently.
Before the border was closed, I closed my eyes at 10 p.m. and got up punctually at 6.30 a.m. the next morning without the need for an alarm clock.
Everything in my life was meticulously organized, and I always had a backup plan so I could relax and sleep soundly.
However, I hear every clock ticking in my sleep and wake up to every notification on the Immigration New Zealand Facebook page.
I can’t stop thinking about a strategy to keep my family and my job.
I am aware that I am depressed, but I just put on a happy front and go about my business.
Depression, mental health and well-being are luxuries that poor migrants cannot afford.
What’s next? I am a young designer who is intelligent, well educated and very talented.
Instead of a deadline, I’ve decided on a plan. February 2022 marks the end of my two-year battle in New Zealand as a result of the border closure and I will not be traveling any further.
If everything goes according to plan, I will go home, get married, and come back with my wife when the border closure is eased.
If Immigration New Zealand or the border closure doesn’t get better, I’ll choose other options.
I believe if I work as hard and smart as I do now, I will have excellent opportunities in other counties.
I’m sure it will set me back two or three years in my career, but at least I could be with loved ones.
I would definitely miss my job, my boss, friends and this beautiful country.
But it’s a sacrifice worth being with my family again.
I will not see this part of my journey as a sad ending story, but as an adventurous one.
New Zealand made me who I am today. It gave me the best career opportunities, a great work culture and wonderful memories.