Take action: Studylink

You can find email addresses for relevant MPs at this link: https://www.parliament.nz/en/mps-and-electorates/members-of-parliament/

Kia ora (Name of MP),

My name is _______ and I am a resident of ______. I am writing to you express my concern about the current exclusion of certain refugees from Studylink funding.

Convention Refugees  or Spontaneous Refugees are individuals who have been recognised as having refugee status by the New Zealand Government. Current Government policy means that once a claimant has been granted refugee status they must then apply for residency. This is distinct from individuals who arrive under the Quota programme who are automatically granted residency.

Under the Student Allowance Regulations 1998 (Regulation 12, 1, a, iv) to receive Studylink a person must have refugee status, which Convention Refugees do have, but must also be entitled under the Immigration Act 2009 to “reside indefinitely” in New Zealand. As Convention Refugees are not automatically granted residence, a process which can take two years to complete, they are being excluded from accessing affordable education. The result of this policy is that Quota Refugees are entitled to Studylink and Convention Refugees are not. This effectively creates a second class of Refugees in Aotearoa and a disparity of treatment when both groups have equally been recognised as having refugee status.

This is fundamentally unjust and is in conflict with principles of natural justice and fairness, somethings New Zealanders pride themselves on. Change is required. We must see the interpretation of “reside indefinitely” changed to include individuals who have refugee or protected person status.

Secondly, a spontaneous refugee who bring his children here under a Dependent Child Resident Visa is denied because they are told they have not ‘sponsored them’ the child. However, this definition does include extended family of a refugee. In practice this means that extended family of a spontaneous refugee who are sponsored by that refugee to live in NZ can access Studylink but children whose entitlement to live in New Zealand comes from a Dependent Child Resident Visa do not have access to this. Immigration New Zealand’s website states: “If your children are granted residence, they can live and study in New Zealand, and if they’re old enough, work too.” However, this is not being honoured in practice. The interpretation  of ‘sponsor’ under Regulation 12, 1, a, iv of the Student Allowance Regulations 1998 must include the direct relatives of all refugees and protected persons, including children who arrive in New Zealand on dependent child visas.

We urge you to advocate for a fairer and more equitable education system for all refugees and protected persons in Aotearoa.

Ngā mihi,

(Your name)

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