The New Zealand Herald

Too smart to stay in NZ?

Mum fighting for daughter to stay in NZ after she graduates at age 15

- Lincoln Tan

The adoptive mother of a child maths whizz has been spending sleepless nights worrying about the prospect of being separated from her child who could be forced to return to Vietnam when she graduates at age 15.

Vicky Ngo Ngoc is pursuing a double degree in finance and applied mathematic­s and was just 13 when she entered AUT University last year.

The Education Ministry said there was provision within the Education Act to enable the ministry to consider requests for exemption for students under 18 to attend university.

“Vicky is an outstandin­g student and based on her current enrolment is well on track to achieve her qualificat­ion next year and graduate in the university’s 2022 Winter Graduation at the age of 15,” an AUT spokeswoma­n said.

Immigratio­n NZ has said that because of her age there is no student pathway to residency, and she will not be eligible for a post-study work visa – one other internatio­nal students over 18 can apply for.

But AUT believes Vicky’s situation warrants special considerat­ion.

“While the university cannot be involved in individual decisions about the granting of residency, we believe Vicky is good candidate for special considerat­ion by Immigratio­n NZ,” the spokeswoma­n added.

Immigratio­n lawyer Simon Laurent said Vicky’s mother, who did not want to be named, had sought profession­al advice.

“There is always scope to make an exception to instructio­ns, and there’s nothing to stop a manager or a senior immigratio­n officer from granting one. That’s what we can try and do.”

Laurent was awaiting instructio­ns and no applicatio­n has yet been filed with INZ.

The mother, who adopted Vicky in Vietnam from a family too poor to pay for her education, said it was unfair Vicky is being penalised for being “too smart for her age”.

The mother said she has received an internship and job offer for Vicky from a finance company, but they were conditiona­l on her getting a post-study work visa.

“It is so unfair that we are being put in a position where we have to spend thousands of dollars to fight for a visa that is rightfully given to all other internatio­nal students just because Vicky is too smart for her age,” she said.

“I worry every night about whether we will be separated after my daughter graduates and when she’s forced to go back to Vietnam.”

Vicky holds a student visa, while the mother, who has a Kiwi partner, is in the process of applying for a residence visa.

They came to New Zealand in 2018, and Vicky attended St Thomas School where she finished Year 7 with distinctio­n and then moved to Selwyn College and got bumped up to Year 9 and graduated as a top scholar for Year 12 that same year.

Immigratio­n NZ’s general manager Nicola Hogg told the Herald last year that Vicky was not eligible for any student visa pathway to residence because of her age.

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 ?? Photo / Dean Purcell ?? Maths prodigy Vicky Ngo Ngoc was 13 when she began studying at AUT. She graduates next year.
Photo / Dean Purcell Maths prodigy Vicky Ngo Ngoc was 13 when she began studying at AUT. She graduates next year.

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