The Truth about Student Visas

Due to immigration rules tightening, many Filipinos are now opting to study in New Zealand. In fact, latest official figures showed that the Philippines is leading with a 72% increase of student visa arrivals from the previous year.

It seems that the recent upsurge had been caused by some dodgy agents in the country advertising the student visa as a relatively “easy” pathway or simply by people who jumped on the bandwagon without doing their homework.

nurse
Example of a deceptive Filipino consultant advertising their “Study in NZ” services on Facebook

Of course, student visa as an “easy” pathway is very far from the truth. Remember that when you apply for a student visa you sign on a piece of paper that your “statement of purpose” is to study and leave the country when your visa expires.

Immigration NZ nor the NZ government does not promise or guarantee any jobs, more so permanent residency when you decide to go down the student visa path. You are allowed to study, in some cases work part-time, but at the end of the day, the agreement is that you pack your bags once your study is over. This is all written in black and white.

Pero sa hirap ng buhay sa atin, some pinoys do take their chances and hop on a plane to study with a hope of securing work, any work, which in the case of NZ does not apply. This is quite different from the Middle East or Singapore in that if your objective is permanent residency, it has to be skilled work that is in line with your experience and field of study and that New Zealand has a demand for those skills.

In other words, you have to bring something special to the table before they let you in. No Mcdo managers, factory hands, call center agents or kitchen staff because they have plenty of those people already.

They say “no guts, no glory.” And I agree. Despite all the gloom and doom in the global economy nowadays I still think the rewards outweigh the risks in taking such endeavor. But you also need to assess your odds and prepare accordingly to increase your chances of success.

studying in nz

First, the student visa would be the costliest pathway one can take and you need to be financially prepared. Conservatively, you will be spending over 1 million pesos per year in tuition fees and living costs. Remember that no amount of part-time work (limited to 20 hours per week) will be able to sustain yourself in NZ. If you have to borrow this amount of money, it will take years to recoup even if you end up finding a NZ job.

Secondly, you need to choose a field of study that has to be in an area of your specialization already. Case in point – no sense taking a business course when your undergraduate degree is nursing and you are looking for nursing job.

Third and finally, the skills has to be there for you to compete in the present job market. The course that you will study is just an “icing on the cake” that will let you inside the country so you can job hunt. But in the final analysis, the offer will only come if you can truly add value to the company you are applying for. Frankly, how many comes out of college and be able to hit the ground running? Real skills takes several years to develop, and that’s why Kiwi employers value experience over degrees. It is also important to note that less than 15% of Kiwis hold university degrees and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of them learned on the job and have worked their way up. Practicality and improvisation is inherent in Kiwi culture and oftentimes classroom “theories” are dismissed. To learn more, read about the term “number 8 wire” and its origins.

Academic achievement is not highly valued here (unlike the UK or US) and that is why I have reservations on recommending the student visa path. But if you have money to burn and game for adventure then taking the plunge is definitely worth it.

3 thoughts on “The Truth about Student Visas

    1. Hi Albert. Thank you for your comment. Although I think luck plays a small part especially in job hunting, the immigration process is actually quite technical – diligent research, careful attention to immigration policy, meticulous preparation of documents and people skills will ultimately determine your results. All the best!

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