The New Zealand Herald
Too smart to stay in NZ?
Mum fighting for daughter to stay in NZ after she graduates at age 15
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.