Job hunt dilemma closes doors for migrant pair

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 07:50 15/02/2013

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Ali Far and Mana Ahmadi are likely to have to go to Plan C in their bid to stay in New Zealand.

The plight of the Iranian couple here on Silver Fern Job Search visas and who haven't been able to find work in seven months featured in Wednesday's Central Leader.

Despite holding a masters degree each, the 26-year-olds have found that without actual work experience the door to employment remains closed.

The Silver Fern visa grants people aged 24 to 35 nine months to look for skilled work in New Zealand.

Those who find skilled work can apply for a two-year work visa.

Mr Far says he has had interviews for jobs but none that could be considered skilled. He holds a masters in banking and finance, while Ms Ahmadi has a masters in communications.

Despite their joy at being awarded one of the 300 visas dished out each year, they now find themselves having to rely on family support and savings after failing to get work.

They question why they were granted visas at all when they lack the experience required to get skilled work.

Ms Ahmadi has applied to study for a PhD which would pave the way for Mr Far to apply for a work visa while she is at university.

"I would rather work though," Ms Ahmadi says, worried extra study would leave her overqualified.

An Immigration New Zealand spokesman says the Silver Fern Job Search visa application focuses on qualifications over work experience partly because it is aimed at young people.

Of the 300 visas awarded in 2009/10, 49 per cent progressed to employment, in 2010/11that figure was 44 per cent and so far in the 2011/12 round 39 per cent have gone into work.

Applicants have six months to enter New Zealand from the date their visa is granted so some from the last intake may be recent arrivals, explaining the lower employment rate.

"The Silver Fern Job Search visa allows people to enter New Zealand for nine months to search for skilled employment.

"It does not guarantee them employment or future rights to remain in New Zealand beyond the expiry of their visa.

"The aim of Silver Fern Job Search is to attract young skilled people who can transition to the skilled migrant category with a skilled job. Granting an extension or exception to allow them to work in an unskilled job would be counter to this objective.

"However, if their employer can show that they have been unable to find a New Zealander to fill the position, the person could apply for an essential skills work visa."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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