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Immigration Blog


Posts in category: IMMagine

Immigration Blog

Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork; its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people. Understanding Australia & New Zealand at a grass-roots level is paramount to your immigration survival, and to give you a realistic view of both countries, its people and how we see the world, as well as updates about any current or imminent policy changes, subscribe to our regular blog posts by clicking here.

Is there a flood of migrants?

Posted by Iain on Sept. 9, 2016, 3:09 p.m. in IMMagine

Edmund Burke famously said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

I told myself following the screening this week of Nigel Latta’s The Hard Stuff: Immigration that I wouldn’t lower myself and comment on the ill-informed, ignorant garbage that people have been posting online, on our Facebook page, in emails and I'd be big enough to ignore the usual political suspects and their xenophobic rantings in response to the episode, but I can’t. 

I have long said I know nothing about a lot, but when it comes to this subject, I know a lot about immigration.

Winston Peters, leader of NZ First has (as one might expect for someone that feeds local xenophobia presumably and at least in part to keep his tax payer funded Parliamentary salary) this week released a press statement, and among other things said:

"Mr Latta claims the level of immigrants coming to New Zealand has been stable for the last 10 years and people are not flooding in."

"That's odd considering last month Statistics New Zealand said New Zealand's population grew by 97,000 in the year ended June 2016 – the largest increase ever – and that it was driven by record levels of international migration."

Yes, the population has grown (we do have babies) and there are around 65,000 more people here than the year before through net migration, but only 45,000 or so were 'foreigners' and the recipients of a resident visa, meaning they can stay long term.

What Mr Peters wilfully exploits is how Statistics New Zealand defines a migrant.

Latta explained this very succinctly and accurately. Peters, ever the grandstanding and ultimate celebrity Politician, continues to twist these numbers to tell a story that is frankly false.

Here is how a migrant is defined: anyone that enters or leaves this country is required to complete an arrival and departure card. If, when you land, you state that you ‘intend’ staying for 12 months or longer, you are classified as an immigrant.

If, when you are leaving, you state that you intend spending the next 12 months outside of New Zealand you have emigrated and left the country ‘permanently’ for statistical purposes, irrespective of what you actually end up doing.

And this, as Nigel Latta correctly pointed out, paints a distorted picture of migration because the bulk of those arriving and declaring they ‘intend spending more than 12 months’ in New Zealand are in fact a mix of Holiday Working Visa holders, other temporary work visa holders, international students and New Zealanders and Australians coming home or to settle. 

The Holiday Working Visa, other work visa and International Students do not hold and the majority will not ever get (and it might be noted, do not want) a resident visa. If they do stay and qualify for a resident visa they form part of the Government’s annual target of 45,000 resident visas which has not changed for years and has not been exceeded, meaning, simply – the number of places available to permanent migrants is more or less completely static and is strictly controlled. Has been for years and years.

There is no flood.

Thing is, Peters is not as stupid as those that believe his press releases – he knows full well the majority of those he labels ‘migrants’ are here on finite short term visas.

Holiday Working Visas are not renewable and most are valid for 12 months. Some are a bit longer but never more than two years. These people statistically have all migrated to New Zealand. Yet the overwhelming majority leave when their visa is up.

Equally, International Students, of which at any given time there are tens of thousands, all tick the 'staying for more than 12 months' box because their courses are usually 12-36 months in duration. These people statistically have all migrated to New Zealand "permanently".

It is also true that with strong economic growth and being a great place to live and raise a family, New Zealand is currently the victim of its own success. Far fewer New Zealanders are looking to leave the country for pastures greener and we are seeing unprecedented numbers of Australians joining us and New Zealanders returning home from Australia. When the Australian economy picks up again this trend might reverse and more Kiwis may head back that way for economic opportunity. 

This cyclic movement is contributing to house price pressure but the ‘flood’ that Peters and the "chatterati" keep going on about is not ‘foreigners’ but New Zealanders choosing not to leave the country or returning home and the least foreign of all, Australians, coming with them (often their partners).

Interesting also this week, the Leader of the Opposition weighed in and showed his own depths of ignorance – he commented that we have 6000 people in New Zealand on work visas to work as labourers which he will stop because we have "15,000 unemployed New Zealand labourers".

To be clear, to get a work visa all employers have to satisfy very stringent rules around genuinely trying to fill these vacancies locally and the Immigration Department must be satisfied these foreign workers are not taking the job from a local. And believe me, they do check. Rigorously. The only reason work visas are being issued to anyone is because local employers cannot find anyone locally – I’ll say it till I am blue in the face – no employer I have ever met is ever willing to go through the work visa process to employ foreigners when there are qualified and experienced locals with the right attitude to choose from. I never see it happen.

It takes too much time and effort to employ foreigners, so the need has to be very real. 

I should also add that one of the work visa rules states that the foreign worker cannot be paid any less than the local would for the same job and this is also checked – so the garbage spouted about migrants driving down local wages and this fairytale that migrants will work for peanuts is simply that – garbage. An employer caught doing it faces very strict penalties.

At the more skilled end of the scale there is another uncomfortable reality and that is the small number of locally unemployed no longer have the skills necessary to fill the tens of thousands of skilled jobs being created. There is a clear mismatch between what employers need and what is floating about the local labour market. That suggests we have an issue with our education system but not the immigration system.

Unfortunately in a world where immigration issues are increasingly dominating national politics we are going to continue to see Politicians without another platform exploit the innate sense of distrust we humans have about outsiders.

Our own IMMagine Facebook page received (predictably) a trickle of abuse following the Monday night programme. I have no issue with intelligent, informed, respectful and grown up debate, but one thing I will not tolerate is the ignorant, ill-informed and xenophobic attacking the clients we have helped make this place their home – filling jobs that locals could not or would not fill and who have risked an awful lot in bringing their skills to this country.

Yes it is a two way street – we get the skills and they get one of the world’s best keep secrets. But they have taken nothing, robbed us of less – in fact they have strengthened the country to a man (and woman) in so many ways that extend beyond their skills sets.

I just hope that as the election cycle heats up here over the next year, that people try and stay informed about immigration and see the grandstanding of the Political ‘elite’ for what it is – a desperate attempt to buy votes off a small number of backward looking people who are easily exploited. Adolf Hitler did it pretty successfully. Trump is looking not dissimilar. Brexit happened largely because of it. Europe is going to be in turmoil over this for years.

Permanent immigration to New Zealand is strictly controlled and let no Politician convince you otherwise.

Like it or not, understand the issues or not, we cannot and should not turn our back on the world. 

We should, however, turn our back on political peddlers of lies.

Until next week

Iain MacLeod - Managing Director, IMMagine Australia & New Zealand

Southern Man

When Data Makes the Decisions

Posted by Iain on April 1, 2016, 7:31 p.m. in IMMagine

You may or may not know it but Facebook often uses New Zealand as a test bed for its latest greatest idea on how to dominate the world. It seems we are very tech savvy and what is described as early adopters. 

I am not I suspect one of Facebook’s targets (or maybe I am and if they ever get me their domination will be complete!). I am coming up 52 years old and grew up in a more simple time when you got your news from the TV at 6pm, updates on what happened in the ensuing 12 hours by reading the morning newspaper and you found girlfriends at University not on Tinder. If no one ‘liked’ you they just didn’t come over to play.

I don’t have a Facebook account and nor do I want one. If I have something to share with you I’ll send you a blog. I have no interest in splashing my private life in your face and I am not terribly interested in you telling me how perfect and able your wife is on your wall (or wherever you do it). I don’t tweet. I don’t Instagram (but am being told it is high time I started).

What’s my point?

I have just seen the future and it is scary because it isn’t going to arrive tomorrow, it is happening right now.

Today my senior team which included my (oh how very 2016) in-house social media and marketing specialist spent the day with a Social Media trainer. I did realise that everything we touch online is turned into data that someone uses for or against me. I didn’t quite appreciate how all pervasive it is. I learned for example about ‘app scraping’. That’s right – ‘app scraping’. Whereby using one app but having others on your phone allows the information from those other apps to be used by the one you are using e.g. Facebook.

While masses of data about our behaviours, preferences, purchases and lives can be useful (have a read of my recent blog about how meta-data is proposed as what seems a very useful tool for identifying at risk children in New Zealand and providing greater education funding to them), I am not much interested in living in a world where I am bombarded with advertising for things I might want but do not need.

Yet I spent today learning how to do it as a business and why I am going to need to do it.

It’s in your best interests that I do dear reader...

Here at IMMagine we already collect very limited data on potential clients not to be nosy about them but to learn if the fortune we pay Google every year to put us in touch with people we can help to emigrate can be better spent, i.e. we spend less or at least spend the dollars we do more effectively to help find those that we can help.

I don’t think anyone would find that in any way invasive or sinister. Advertisers have forever wondered which of the 50% that they have spent is wasted and which is not. In that regard little has changed.

I do wonder however about all the other stuff being collected out there not least by Governments.

We already warn our clients who are travelling to NZ to find work not to advertise the fact they intend emigrating here by telling one and all on Facebook, forums and chat groups, because we know that Immigration New Zealand can find this stuff out and do look. More than one client has been told what they put on their Facebook page when being questioned about their ‘intentions’ at the border.

While collecting information by Governments can be put to good use for the betterment of all in the society being governed, I deal with one Government every day. It must be said ours is a pretty non-threatening and benign one and we have real legal safeguards built around who can access and use data about me.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I trust everyone inside it however to act or behave responsibly, sensitively or even legally. No technology ever created that could be put to a different use to the one it was designed for, has not been put. And of course, it has been rumoured for thirty years that the CIA has always had access to our central police computer. I cannot imagine the Americans aren’t poking around in public and private sector databases as they fight the threat of global terrorism and try and stay on top of the economic pile.

It is all a bit of an eye opener really – just how easy it is to find out an awful lot about people. The surprising thing to me is how the younger you are the less you think or care about it. Possibly until you apply for that job but your employer to be sees you half naked and blind drunk swimming in a pool of your own vomit...

I understand Immigration New Zealand will soon roll out a temporary visa application assessment tool where no human will be involved in the decision – it will all be based on risk profiling applied through algorithms. God help us.

While I sometimes think computer algorithms might be more intelligent than some state functionaries, handing over any decision based on profiling and what ‘big data’ says about the risk someone might present is more than a little chilling. At least I can talk to the state functionary.

It is however the path we seem to have chosen or at least have not fought.

Sobering stuff indeed.

Oh, would you mind now clicking on the box below telling me if you enjoy reading the blogs and would like to learn more? 

Just joking.

For now.

Until next week

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man NZ

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