International students and workers are fearful they may have to leave New Zealand because they can't see a way to gain residency.

Palmerston North woman and Massey University PhD student Lily Jia, who is from China but has lived in New Zealand for 10 years, is part of a group of more than 900 students who signed a petition asking immigration minister Kris Faafoi to include PhD students in the group fast tracked for residency.

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