(Trigger warning: Mentions of suicide)
International students in New Zealand are now reluctant to disclose their mental health status, making them ineligible for student visas.
Following the confusion that has risen around a policy from Immigration New Zealand, students fear for their visa statuses or educational records once they report about their poor mental health status. Hence, they refuse to do it instead.
- An immigration policy has caused misunderstanding among international students in New Zealand.
- International students are reluctant to disclose their mental health status as they can be ineligible for visas once they do so.
- Students have sent an open letter to the minister of immigration to clarify the policy.
The policy states that all non-New Zealanders coming to the country must have an acceptable standard of health. Moreover, a residence class visa application must be declined if any person is assessed as not having an acceptable standard of health, and a medical waiver is not granted.
With the support of the New Zealand International Students’ Association, student Varsha Ravi highlighted this issue in an open letter addressed to New Zealand’s Minister of Immigration, Kris Faafoi.
In the letter, Ravi mentions that many international students fear accessing mental health services as this may have an impact on their visa.
The letter added that it was not the lack of services but rather the misconceptions around accessing these services that caused the issue.
The misunderstanding of rules around immigration has reportedly led to tragic consequences. One case is that of a recent graduate who had taken their own life. The individual had previously voiced out concerns that if they sought professional help, then immigration would not grant them residency.
One graduate also wrote in an anonymous group for University of Auckland students that they were feeling suicidal after struggling to meet the residency application requirements set by the immigration agency.
With these concerning issues, Ravi’s letter calls for the government to adequately address the misconceptions surrounding access to mental health services and its implications in securing visas.
Immigration New Zealand has expressed its dismay at the recent tragedy and encouraged international students to seek appropriate support for their own health and safety.
The immigration agency has also explained that each application is carefully considered on its own merits, including the applicant’s specific circumstances. A visa application will not be automatically declined just because a health condition has been disclosed, Immigration New Zealand has ensured.
If you know someone who’s in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, ensure someone stays with that person to keep them safe. Call your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
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