Letters from Southern Man

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Letters from the Southern Man

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 New Zealand is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our weekly Southern Man blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.

Immigration changes and review...

Posted by Iain on Dec. 15, 2011, 3:43 p.m. in Immigration

Immigration changes and review...

As the end of the year bears down on us like a runaway freight train and I ponder the holiday season ahead it is worthwhile reviewing some of the changes to immigration policy and processes that have taken place this year.

Those of you that have followed our strong and sustained efforts to effect change in Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Beijing and Shanghai offices will be interested to know that Skilled Migrant decline rates this year:

have fallen in Beijing from roughly 85% of all applications filed a little over a year ago to 35% today which brings that office pretty much in line with global INZ averages; and

have decreased in Shanghai from roughly 85 % a little over a year ago to 50% today. That number is still too high and it is hard to understand with new management in place in both offices why this office has persistently high decline rates totally out of step with the rest of the world; and

for all our clients through those two offices remains zero. In fact it is better than that – as far as I am aware every client, bar one,  in 2011 has been granted a Residence Visa following their settlement interview, one were granted Work to Residence Visas and none were declined. This reinforces the view that if you know what you are doing in this environment and don’t mind investing in  services like ours there is no reason for your application to be declined.

On 5 December new Long Term Skills Shortage List criteria have opened the floodgates to Engineers of many disciplines. Up until last week most Engineers needed job offers to qualify for residence of New Zealand. 

To avoid the need to get jobs, most Engineers had to gain bonus points for qualifications or work experience but the policy made this difficult for most as it was incredibly prescriptive and restrictive. The policy limited bonus points only to those Engineers who had a degree comparable to a New Zealand degree and whose degree was issued by a Washington Accord Signatory country (and only from the date the Accord was established). This meant those bonus points were very hard to get.

The new rules will allow far more Engineers to potentially qualify for Residence Visas without having job offers first which, as we all know, is like being helicoptered half way up Mount Everest rather than being made to climb it one step at a time from the bottom.

If you are an Engineer who holds a Bachelor’s Degree we urge you to get (back) in touch with us – your Christmas might have just come early.

However the party might be short lived given these lists are reviewed every six months and in a meeting with senior Government Officials earlier this week we did warn them that in our view they have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous and this change really opens the floodgates. 

Their response was just as we expected ‘Well, we can always take the occupation off the List of course…..’. 

Therefore there is a window of opportunity here that might not remain open for long. So this is a call to action for all those Engineers who might fancy moving here……


In other changes the criteria for ICT Specialists has changed but in discussing this with the INZ Officials we pointed out their changes were practically meaningless because of the way the new policy is worded. I won’t bore you with the detail but we are talking about the use of the word ‘and’ when they say “they think” they meant ‘or’.

How important it is to get this right because the policy as it is currently written will have zero impact when it was designed to open the game up a bit in particular for Telecommunications and Communications Engineers.

Change the word ‘and’ to ‘or’ and the outcomes will be very very different.

In the meantime however immigration officers and advisers can only base decisions and advice on the policy as it is written not as it was meant to be written. So right now it is no easier to claim and be awarded those bonus points but it may be soon. Watch this space.

We also raised the issue with INZ about English language. As many of you will know my colleagues and I have been undergoing in-depth training on Australian General Skills Policy by my business partner and great friend Myer Lipschitz who runs our Melbourne office. It seems logical to have a working knowledge of the policy and experts at our fingertips when the New Zealand Government has made it so hard to get in here and given it is often far easier to get PR of Australia.

One clear advantage of the Australian policy over ours is that applicants can score points for their level of English language. Certain applicants from particular countries are exempt from mandatory English testing so long as they are citizens of and ordinarily live in that country. If they need more points to qualify they can sit the IELTS and are rewarded for it – the better the English the higher their score and the ‘easier’ it is to meet the current pass marks.

We don’t operate like that but we should and we have suggested Immigration New Zealand look to  adopt something similar.

The reason for this is clear – there is no greater factor influencing a migrant’s ability to secure meaningful employment at the level they want and our policy settings seek than English language. The better, more fluent, less accented your English the more attractive you are to a New Zealand employer.

This would allow for better settlement outcomes through employment and we have urged the officials to take this message back to Wellington. 

It has also been fascinating to learn through Myer how for some clients who might need a job offer to qualify for New Zealand can in fact get PR here using Australia as the back door – and without a job.

This is because Australia is less concerned about jobs before dishing out PR Visas. In fact there are many clients that we can get into Australia without their leaving home. 

Which is brilliant because if they really wish to settle here in New Zealand all they have to do is travel through Australia on their way to NZ; activate the Australian Residence Visa automatically at the Australian airport on arrival, get on the next plane and be granted a Residence Visa of New Zealand automatically on arrival here. And we are done – hey presto! New Zealand PR.

Australia has become the welcome doormat to paradise!


If then we have assessed you as not qualifying for New Zealand without a job offer but you wish to explore using Australia as the welcome doormat and back door to New Zealand let us know and we can assess the possibilities. This pathway won’t suit everyone but if it works, is less risky and gets you here without having to actually live in Australia it might be worth some serious consideration.

With this the second to last Southern Man letter before I head to the beach house and spend a few weeks fishing, planting some more native trees and drinking (in some unhealthy quantity) great NZ, South African – just arrived by boat - along with Australian wine, sleeping in, swimming in the warm Pacific Ocean, barbequing in my new fire pit and lying on the beach under that quintessentially New Zealand of trees, the Pohutukawa, I look back on what has been another crazy year. And crazy it seems to have been.

Crazy economy

Crazy Earthquakes down south

Crazy bureaucrats

Crazy Europe

Crazy America

Crazy Julius Malema

Here at Immagine we are finishing on a very busy note which augurs well for next year. As we all take a bit of a break and reflect on our lives and the futures of our children where ever we may live, the uncertain economic times in which we exist, the seeming never ending pressures to deliver economic comfort to our family, being slaves to the capitalist machine, doing our best to keep our heads above the stormy economic seas economically, I hope gives us an opportunity to pause and think hard about what sort of future we really want for ourselves and our family.

Notwithstanding the difficult journey that migration presents, New Zealand really does present something of an oasis of sanity in a world seemingly mad and getting madder by the month.

As we always say, ‘NZ ain’t perfect’ but there are few places better in the world to raise a family than right here.

Until next week

Iain MacLeod -Southern Man

1 comments on this post
Jan. 22, 2012, 9:28 a.m. by VFS Appointment

Very informative post about immigration laws and changes.

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