In our next profile edition, we feature Sahar Shamia. Our own stories have brought us to where we are today. This is Sahar’s story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I migrated to New Zealand with my family in 1996 when I was 10 years old. Initially, I found it challenging as I didn’t speak English and had little knowledge of New Zealand culture. The school system was also different, which added to the challenge. However, I was determined to succeed and managed to integrate well at school by making friends and taking extra classes to learn English. In high school, I set my sights on becoming a lawyer, and I worked hard to achieve that goal. I successfully completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Law degree from the University of Auckland. I have now been practicing immigration law for almost 13 years. I am fluent in Arabic and English which has been a great asset in my work. Outside of work, I enjoy travelling, playing tennis and socialising with friends.
You’re an immigrant yourself. What makes immigrating so challenging?
I know what it feels like to go through the immigration process and what people expect from an immigration professional. Immigration can be challenging for many reasons, such as language barriers, cultural differences, and navigating through complex legal systems.
What advice do you have for immigrants who face similar challenges as part of their immigration process?
It is important for immigrants to seek out resources and support available such as community organisations. I also found it helpful by connecting with other immigrants who have gone through a similar process. Most importantly, integrating with the New Zealand community – learn English, make friends with other Kiwis.
What do you love the most about New Zealand?
New Zealand is a place that I hold dear to my heart. I have witnessed two wars by the age of 10, so the peacefulness I found in New Zealand is something that I always appreciate. The scenery is breathtaking, the people are incredibly friendly, welcoming, and made it easy for me to call New Zealand home.
Why do you do immigration work?
It’s incredibly rewarding. My passion for helping others achieve their goals and resolve their difficult issues is what drives me. As an immigration lawyer, I have the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the complex legal system and immigration policies. I love the ability to be creative and find solutions to different challenges. I take pride in being able to use my understanding, accuracy, compassion and ability to take on new challenges to help those in need.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?
Being able to see the relief on someone’s face after receiving news that they have secured a visa to live in New Zealand, or that their problem has been resolved. Bringing joy to people by helping them achieve their goals, unite them with their families is something that I will always be proud of. Every day is a new challenge, a new scenario and it all revolves around helping people, which is something I truly enjoy doing.
What do you think immigrants find the most challenging about the immigration process?
Navigating through the complex system and understanding the policies can be very challenging. The immigration process can be confusing and overwhelming, especially for those who are not familiar with the laws and regulations. Immigration policy can be vague and difficult for immigrants to understand and interpret, which can lead to mistakes made in the application or cause unnecessary delays in the processing of their applications. Also, language barriers can make the immigration process more challenging for immigrants.
What are some of the biggest mistakes immigrants make when they apply for visas?
Not being honest with Immigration NZ and not declaring correct information can be one of the biggest mistakes immigrants make when applying for a visa. Providing false or misleading information and withholding information can have serious consequences. They could become liable for deportation or be denied a visa.
Another common mistake is submitting an incomplete or inaccurate application. This can lead to delays in the processing of the visa application or decline of their visa. The other mistake usually made by immigrants is not checking if they meet the criteria for the visa application they applied for.
How can you help them to navigate the immigration process safer/better?
The best way to help clients navigate through the immigration process safely and effectively is by ensuring that they meet the eligibility criteria under the relevant immigration category. We provide accurate and complete applications with all the required documents. Working in the immigration industry for more than ten years has given me a lot of exposure to the type of documents that are required to ensure our clients will meet the requirements. Sometimes, we need to provide documents that are not listed by Immigration NZ to help make a strong case on behalf of our clients.
It is important to help clients address any issues that may arise during the application process. Being transparent and upfront about any issues or concerns can help prevent delays or other complications in the process.
Finally, providing clear guidance throughout the process can ensure our clients navigate the process safely and effectively.
Why do people immigrate and why is New Zealand a choice for those that want to immigrate?
New Zealand is a popular destination for migrants due to its stability, peaceful environment, and natural beauty. It is an attractive place to live and work in because it is safe, welcoming country with a diverse multicultural population. New Zealand has great landscapes, beaches, and provides a range of opportunities for migrants to start a new life in a new country.
Book your appointment with Sahar now.