Posts with tag: policy changes
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.
Sometimes we are asked to justify the costs of our services. Which is valid but also signals to us that anyone who asks doesn’t deal with immigration rules or bureaucrats very often . In this business one wrong move with a visa application and your grandchildren won’t be Kiwis and therefore we play for very high stakes. We are the best at what we do. Our record suggests that more than 99% of the time our clients get their visa.
At such times it is good to offer examples of just how complicated, if not insane, immigration policy, processes and criteria can be and why navigating a client through it is a challenge. The complexity is often caused by poorly written policy and added to by the varying interpretations put on it by the Departmental Officials across the various branches we work with.
So if by chance all you think we do is fill out application forms ask yourself this question as we have been grappling with for the past 18 months – when, for immigration bonus work points purposes, is an Engineer an Engineer?
This believe it or not is a question that Immigration Department Officials still cannot answer after about 18 months of wrestling with the question and several attempts at issuing what they call Information Circulars and revised skills shortages definitions which set out to clarify such imponderables. We first raised some questions 18 months ago with INZ over the varying interpretations of this policy by case officers. In January 2012 we were given written clarification and took that to the market. Within months case officers were telling us that we were wrong (despite only basing our advice on written advice from their own National Office). The head of INZ forced the advice we were given to be honoured but more ‘clarifications’ were issued. Officers became more confused. Internal departmental circulars were rescinded. A new Long Term Skills Shortage List has just been published to ‘clarify’ how applicants claiming to be Engineers get bonus points. Unfortunately it still doesn’t answer the fundamental question and it looks like parts of the latest release are back under committee discussion in National Office. After 18 months…..
If you are after bonus points for work experience as an Engineer policy says you must meet one of the following criteria – you must have a qualification (note, not work experience) which is:
1. A Washington Accord accredited Engineering Degree
2. Either a qualification comparable to a:
a. Bachelor of Engineering, or
b. Bachelor of Engineering (with Honours), or Master of Engineering Degree
3. A qualification at Level 7 or higher with a letter from IPENZ certifying that the Degree and any further learning meets the academic requirements for registration as a ‘Chartered Professional Engineer’ in New Zealand
4. NZ registration as a ‘Chartered Professional Engineer’
Forget the last criteria unless you have been working in New Zealand a few years in which case you’d have enough points for residence without needing these precious bonus points in the first place. It’s a criteria that shouldn’t be there as it adds no value.
Only a few countries are signatories to the Washington Accord and even then many Engineers have degrees conferred on them from a University in a signatory country before that country signed up This immediately means they don’t satisfy the criteria.
An Engineer can chance an application to IPENZ to try and meet the third criteria but we know that more than 85% at least initially, are unsuccessful with that process.
So that leaves the third criteria but what does it mean when you must have a qualification ‘comparable to a Bachelor of Engineering’?
You might reasonably argue that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flies like a duck it is a duck.
You’d be wrong. The Immigration Department will often tell you it is a horse, despite being covered in feathers.
Take for example a client we are representing right now.
He has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Mechanical) from The University of Leeds. He qualified in 1982. A few years after he completed his Degree the University course title was changed to Bachelor of Engineering but the course content was, as far as I know, exactly the same. He was registered with the Engineering Council (UK) and has worked as an Engineer all his life.
So it’s obvious right? He has an Engineering degree, works as an Engineer and was, at least for a time, a registered professional Engineer so he should get the bonus points for working as an Engineer.
Not so fast.
Although the United Kingdom was a founding signatory to the Washington Accord, the Accord was only ratified in 1989. So he fails the Engineer test based on the first criteria. He got his Degree in 1982.
He has no letter from the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) and we have spoken to them about the likelihood they will give him one. There is no guarantee he will get the letter either (although they tell us he might). So option 3 is uncertain.
We know he can’t meet the fourth criteria because he does not yet work in New Zealand so he simply cannot get NZ registration as a ‘Chartered Professional Engineer’.
Which leaves us arguing his qualification is ‘comparable’ to a Bachelor of Engineering.
So it’s obvious right? He must get the points that way. After all the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Immigration Department both automatically recognise his Degree as being comparable at the very least to a New Zealand Bachelor Degree. The question case officers have to grapple with is ‘Yes, but is it an Engineering Degree?’
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines comparable as ‘able to be likened to another; similar’ so it has to be a no brainer, you might be thinking.
I say it again - not so fast.
And you must surely be thinking – but it’s obvious – he has a Degree that is automatically recognised by the Immigration Department as being comparable to a New Zealand Bachelor Degree and his academic record proves he studied engineering, passed in Engineering and has worked as an Engineer (the more of this I type the more insane it seems) so what he has is ‘similar’ to a Bachelor of Engineering offered in New Zealand right?
Well life could never be so simple.
The Immigration Department right now is saying he does not automatically get the bonus points.
After issuing their new criteria a week ago we seem to be back to square one and I imagine more committee meetings will be taking place at National Office of INZ as they now try to explain to case officers how to determine if clients like mine should get the bonus points.
I say he should get them – he walks, quacks and flies like a duck. I am picking then he is a duck.
Of course this would all be made so much simpler if the Department changed that one criteria to read as follows:
“A qualification comparable to a Level 7 Bachelor degree and three years highly relevant work experience in the past five years”.
Then you are going to get Engineers and nothing else. In fact we suggested something similar to this a few months ago but it appears to have been ignored in the review of the review of the review.
With our definition the work experience bonus points test becomes just that, a test of recent Engineering work experience while preserving the requirement for a recognised University Degree.
It all begs the question why something which in fact is pretty simple is made so horrendously confusing and difficult. And takes 18 months to go round in a big wide circle.
Remember among all of this chaos we still have a success rate in excess of 99%. And that is why we charge what we charge.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
What a week.
And stick with me. Yes this week’s Letter from New Zealand is longer than usual but it is a goodie. I think you’ll find it one of the most interesting ever.
I had a brush this past week with state spin doctoring in respect of an article that was being written by the Christchurch Press for which I was being interviewed. It was an interesting lesson in the power of state officials and politicians to talk crap with a straight face. Although not surprised by the verbal gymnastics of the Minister and his Spin Meisters it has been more than a little Orwellian. I do hope the good readers of the Christchurch Press can spot Government spouted B**S when they read it.
The article was premised on my view that the unwillingness of most NZ employers to head offshore to recruit prospective staff but expect them to come to NZ first is going to severely slow down the rebuild of Christchurch. Sectors like construction, trades and engineering are going to see real and crippling skills shortages in the coming years if employers don’t work with people like us who are in constant touch with a database of over 20,000 highly skilled, motivated and fluent English speakers – who on the whole need skilled jobs here to gain Resident Visas.
I mentioned, by way of background to the journalist researching the article, that employers looking offshore are going to be increasingly important because of Government cuts to skilled migrant numbers over the past two years.
I said this with great confidence knowing the statistics and truth were very firmly on my side.
Like a good journo he went to the Department’s own website to check on my claims about cuts and then to get comment from the Ministry’s spin doctor and the (new) Minister himself.
The spin doctor denied my explanation of this incontrovertible truth (I assume without giggling) and the Minister also chimed in with a well-rehearsed line he and his predecessors have been trotting out every time I have raised this issue over the past two years. ‘Not true’ he cried.
‘Funny that’ I told the journalist – I have it in writing from the Head of the Immigration Department.
Even without that it is easy enough to demonstrate.
The Government sets out its three year rolling totals in its Operational Policy Manual and to quote the current Residence Programme in respect of skilled migrants:
‘The allocation of places within the NZRP for the Skilled/Business stream is approximately 80,700 to 89,925 places across the three year period’
The current three year period started on 1 July 2011 and finishes on 30 June 2014.
Business Migrants also form part of that quota, but they can be measured in the hundreds each year so are statistically not significant.
For the sake of simplicity call the ‘average’ target in a year to be 27,000 Resident Visas to be granted (being 1/3 of 81,000). So how many skilled migrant Resident Visas have actually been issued over the first 18 months of the three years?
The answer is around 28,000.
Why so low when the target was 40,500 at this mid point?
Simple. INZ cut the numbers.
How can I be so sure?
The Department’s stats (checked and quoted by the journalist) show that in 2010 INZ was selecting 750 Expressions of Interest (EOI) from the Skilled Migrant Pool each fortnight as they had been for nine years before that in an attempt to hit that midpoint target of around 27,000 skilled migrant Resident Visa approvals a year. Even selecting 750 a fortnight to further process toward residency they seldom, if ever, reached their annual target.
Two years ago they started routinely selecting only 550 EOIs a fortnight.
Last year they selected on average about 580 EOIs a fortnight.
If you needed to select from your ‘Pool’ 750 Expressions of Interest a fortnight to try and get close to reaching your annual quota of 27,000 people but you never actually achieved quota how can you expect to meet your annual quota if you select 1/3 fewer people?
You with me? It isn’t rocket science.
So what did INZ say in response to this glaring if inconvenient truth?
The Minister said ‘There's no directive to cut the numbers of skilled migrants, but we're not going to lower the threshold for applicants just to try and hit or maintain a number.”
Oh really Minister? Who ordered INZ to cut the numbers being selected from the Pool from 750 a fortnight to 550 and then back up slightly to 580?
And what did the INZ spin doctor say to explain this mysterious fall off in skilled migrant numbers (of which there had apprently been no cut)?
The Christchurch Press reported that an Immigration NZ spokeswoman said the number of skilled migrants was not being kept low by design.
''The numbers are influenced by current skill shortages.
''In times of lower unemployment, more offers of employment are made resulting in more approvals under [the skilled migrant process], and vice versa.''
Oh if only it were true.
Demand to be one of the lucky 27,000 a year to get these (supposedly available) Resident Visas is as great as it has ever been. The evidence for this is equally clear – after each Pool draw there are now more EOIs left in the Pool, hoping for subsequent selection, than at any time in the past. This means that as many people want to be selected as historically have, but fewer are being selected leading to greater numbers sitting in the Pool after each Pool draw.
INZ’s mouthpiece claims these are ‘lower quality applicants.’ Well, they were certainly of high enough quality and good enough up until 2011 to be selected and in most cases approved for residence so how come they are now labelled as ‘lower quality’ and shouldn’t be selected?
Anything to do with potential political concern that with unemployment around 7% the Government does not wish for there to be any perception we are letting in migrants when our own unemployment rate is uncomfortably high? Despite of course every study ever carried out on Planet Earth that proves skilled migrants do not compete with, let alone take jobs from, the unemployed?
So I can assure you this fall of over 10,000 migrants year is nothing to do with the local labour market conditions - it is everything to do with fewer being selected from the pool. And that was a conscious decision by the powers that be.
It goes without saying if you continued to select 750 a fortnight these latter day ‘lower quality’ applicants would suddenly become, in the Spinner’s manual, ‘quality skilled migrants who have demonstrated a high potential to settle and contribute to the NZ economy’. That’s how the spin doctors used to publicly justify letting in people who did not have job offers……before the cuts that is.
Put any spin on it you like but a cut is a cut.
Funny how even with the knife in their hands the spin doctors and Minister want to deny they have used it.
I am not sure how dumb these people think we all are.
So all in all an interesting week and a tale which one might be tempted to pass off as simply a case of lies, damned lies and statistics.
Pity then the employers and people of Christchurch who need skills to rebuild their homes, schools, workplaces and city. It’s going to take a whole lot longer than any of them realise, in my humble opinion, to rebuild it all unless and until the Government gets serious about ensuring it delivers to this economy 27,000 highly skilled, English speaking and motivated migrants a year.
That coupled with employers getting off their chuffs and starting to look offshore for skilled employees before they have exhausted their efforts to find those skills locally and starting to panic over not having enough staff.
What would be really smart is a combination of the two – Government lets in more carefully screened migrants with the skills we will need in the years to come by returning to their pre-2011 selection numbers of 750 a fortnight and employers in Christchurch (and the rest of the country) understanding they may well need to look offshore through companies like Immagine and iPlacements – our migrant to business placement service.
Until next week
The Immigration Department is going through another of its restructuring's and this time it involves many Managers (particularly at a branch level) reapplying for their jobs. This is a way, I suspect, of easing out the career deadwood and bringing in ‘outsiders’ who can, in theory, bring private sector disciplines and approaches.
Which has, in theory, its merits, but someone needs to make those that make these calls understand that a monopolistic Government Department that is not subject to competition and has no ‘bottom line’ financial accountability to shareholders or employees cannot and never will be able to be run like a profit motivated private sector enterprise.
When you can charge what you like, can offer service as inconsistent as you like, spread misinformation like confetti and generally screw peoples’ lives with little to no financial penalty (and setting aside the morality of this model) then you can swap public sector for private sector managers and nothing much will change.
I believe that competition keeps any organisation on its toes. You can have ex-private sector managers, KPI’s and all that garbage till the cows come home but when it is not your money on the line and your staff get paid simply because they turn up to work thanks to your operating a cosy monopoly then what real incentive is there to improve your efficiency, productivity or service offerings?
I get the theory, I question the ability to execute.
For starters, what high flying private sector manager would ever want to go and work for the public service? I question the calibre and motivation of such people. Some of you may be thinking – life isn’t all about money Mr Southern Man and I would agree with you. But money and the risk of losing it is a mighty fine motivator for efficiency, productivity and delivering value.
I rather suspect, however, it is a case of our Government saying, well it couldn’t be any worse.
Although I was assured by the Operations Manager two or three years ago that it would in its first Skilled Migrant Pool draw of each year select everyone who has a job offer, this year, they did not.
In our first Pool draw the only people selected were those claiming 140 points.
As it did the last two times it sent a tsunami of uncertainty around the migrant world.
That meant the precedent was set (if the third time something happens is a precedent) and there were hundreds of people sitting in the Pool who had done just what our Government expects of them – risked everything, sold up, resigned their jobs in their home country, came to New Zealand, broke through the labour market barriers, found skilled employment, claimed, say 125 points with that job, filed an Expression of Interest and were not selected from the Pool.
When I explained to the Acting Operations Manager that this was ‘madness’ and I had been assured, if not guaranteed, by the Head of the Department himself that all those who ever claimed a job offer would always be selected from the Pool, the institutional memory must have lapsed.
To not select everyone with a job offer sends a very clear signal – even if you do come and get employment you may never be selected.
The Department’s response?
Oh don’t worry those with jobs will be selected in the next Pool draw.
Don’t worry? But you have set the precedent now – by not going back and selecting all those in the Pool who had jobs in that first Pool draw of 2013 you have sent a strong signal to the market – if you have a job but not 140 points you are guaranteed nothing.
I pointed out to the Acting Operations Manager that to respond with such a lame defence is to totally misunderstand the motivation of migrants and their tolerance for risk.
If he had wanted to know about migrant motivation he wouldn’t have been talking to the Business Analyst (who I assume sets the pass marks). He would have talked to someone else. Nice. Business Analysts who don’t understand their own business.
If this doesn’t demonstrate quite clearly that this operation is run by a number of left hands and a whole lot of right hands, none of whom knows what the other is doing, nothing will.
You cannot separate from your business analysis Pool draws and pass marks and what drives migrants. Signals sent through cuts to numbers, not selecting those with job offers cannot and do not slip by unnoticed.
Now, I cannot go to the market and say with hand on heart that notwithstanding I have it in writing from the Head of this Department that all those with jobs will be selected each Pool draw you have subordinates either unaware of those instructions or who are off doing their own thing.
A second example is INZ fees. I compete with others for my consulting fees in a free market. INZ does not. They outrageously increased their fees in the middle of 2012 by a whopping 17%. This in a country where inflation is running at 0.8%.
How did they justify it?
Because they didn’t have to.
They have a captive audience and they can do what they like and charge what they like.
If only I could increase my fees by 17%.
So to all those Managers on their way out – welcome to the real world of the private sector (assuming anyone in the private sector might want to employ you). To the private sector people heading into this den of unaccountability and monopolistic behaviour – good luck, you are going to need it. It will probably cost you your sanity.
Just do not ever forget that migration is a two way street and if you are going to call migrants your ‘customers’ treat them as such. Do not, as the Department has always done in the past treat them and their employers as ‘captives’ just because they cannot go down the road and get a better service elsewhere.
Until next week
I remember being really surprised when I was in my third year of Primary School when my school report said among other things that ‘Iain never stops asking why’. My curiosity and unwillingness to take things at face value was clearly getting to my then teacher. I am pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.
Yet to me to question and to delve deeper was, and remains, as normal as breathing. If something doesn’t sound right, requires clarification or to my mind requires deeper analysis or explanation it has never occurred to me not to ask. I’m not a face value kind of guy. And by nature I am curious.
Of late I have begun focussing on the International Qualifications Assessment reports (IQA) that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority carry out which for so many of our clients can be the difference between qualifying for a Resident Visa of New Zealand or not. I did so because increasingly many applicants are spending significant money on this Department’s fees but receiving outcome reports that provide them neither benefit nor advantage in their plans to migrate to New Zealand.
Initially this interest was somewhat restricted to Philippine Bachelor Degree holders’ as their IQA reports were often, but not always, indicating that the five year of degree level study in the Philippines was only ‘comparable’ to the learning outcomes of a two or three year Diploma in new Zealand, if that.
I asked myself why would something that takes five years of fulltime study at a good Philippine University only be deemed comparable to the learning outcomes of a three year Polytechnic level Diploma here in New Zealand?
Thinking about this and digging a little deeper by asking questions of senior NZQA officials and obtaining files under the Official Information Act (OIA) has now made me question the entire assessment process for all countries and the honesty of this process.
What I have uncovered I have found unsettling.
It was always my understanding that NZQA would look at what you studied, where you studied it, what your grades were and what qualification you had. They would then compare this information to a range of NZ qualifications and if yours was similar then the report would be generated confirming the named NZ qualification e.g. your Bachelor of Engineering is deemed to be comparable to the learning outcomes of a named New Zealand qualification e.g. New Zealand Bachelor of Engineering (Level 7).
I no longer believe that to be the process.
What I could never work out is how by simply looking at an academic record/transcript of papers/units studied and grades any state functionary could work out how ‘similar’ that was to the content of say the NZ Bachelor Degree.
I am rapidly approaching the point of concluding NZQA does not do what they say they do.
The assessment, it appears, pretty much only focuses on whether the Institution that issued the qualification is accredited by some higher education authority (itself recognised by NZQA) in that country. If it is, then the assessment outcome seems to be Degree for Degree, Diploma for Diploma, Master for Master.
If the Institution is not recognised by NZQA then the assessment outcome states either ‘there is no comparable qualification’ or it is as assessed as being at a much lower academic level e.g. Degree equals NZ Diploma.
This has major implications for those needing points to qualify for residence, especially those Engineers, IT specialists and the like who can often qualify for residence visas without job offers if their degrees are deemed comparable to NZ degrees.
I am intrigued that notwithstanding the key criteria for recognition appears to be the status of the Institution and its accreditation NZQA still suggest there is far more to the process than these files might indicate. NZQA's explanation of the process they claim to have followed when they issue the assessment report is:
“……there are quite substantial differences in structure, focus, content and intent between your qualifications and similarity to the broad learning outcomes specified at the particular learning outcome level on the NZQF. The academic level recognition afforded your qualification, internationally, by other qualification recognition agencies and databases has been taken into account in reaching this outcome.’
Phooey! My reading of a number of files obtained under the Official Information Act shows quite clearly that NZQA did neither analysis nor comparison of the ‘focus, content and intent’ of these qualifications to anything in New Zealand. They only apper to have looked at the status of the awarding University.
Which in some ways makes sense. How can anyone tell by looking at an academic record of say a Bachelor’s Degree from a British, Malaysian, Singaporean or Philippine University and possibly know what the content of those individual papers were, the scope, the focus and so on? Especially given there are potentially tens of thousands of degree and other courses offered around the world.
So why doesn't NZQA advise those that have spent a significant sum getting the assessment of that? Or warn those considering it that from many countries their particular qualification is not going to be rated at the same level in New Zealand.
I would have thought the simplest thing to do would be for NZQA to publish lists for each country which says in effect and for example ‘If you have a five year fulltime Bachelor Degree from X University that was completed from Year Y to now or between 1970 – 2015 (or whenever)’ then your degree is deemed automatically comparable to a New Zealand Degree of the same type’.
They do not need to do it for all countries – just those from which most of our migrants come – so that’s about a dozen countries, tops. That would not prevent some people having to apply for assessments for immigration purposes but for many more would make their (potential) journey to New Zealand not only more affordable but involve less form filling and dealing with bureaucrats.
Only this morning I consulted with a young Malaysian for whom this assessment is necessary. To her the assessment fee this Government outfit charges to ‘assess’ her Degree represents two weeks of her gross wages.
Of course if NZQA were totally honest and transparent and perhaps published lists of which institutions are accredited and therefore recognised so that we could work out if an assessment is necessary or likely to yield the results the client requires to continue her journey to New Zealand it could save an awful lot of people an awful lot of money in wasted application fees.
But then maybe a few less people would need to be employed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, right?
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
Our media seem to love beating up on New Zealand. One of the ways they do it is by regularly reporting on how many of us are leaving for Australia.
I confess I get really tired of it – we have a common border with Australia and the whole idea is to allow the free flow of people between us. It clearly has advantages for the people of both countries.
A recent series of articles in the NZ Herald has highlighted the issue once again but for the first time asked the question if anyone is actually better off in moving over to Australia.
In the past year something like 30,000 New Zealand citizens have moved to Australia with the intention of remaining there for 12 months or more (which is the statistical definition of an emigrant). The newspaper laments these ‘record numbers’ as if it is some indictment on New Zealand. What frustrates me is that as a percentage of New Zealand’s population the numbers leaving are nowhere near a ‘historic record’ when measured as a percentage of our population. The numbers represent about 0.7% of this nation’s people. In raw numbers, yes, the numbers are the highest they have been but surely a better measure is the percentage? Our population continues to grow and the percentage moving across the Tasman appears to not be.
Given 2% of our population living here are Aussies and 2% of theirs are New Zealanders it is clear huge numbers of them don’t fancy living here just as 98% of New Zealanders are quite happy not to be living there.
What I cannot work out is why anyone might care anyway.
The reality is we enjoy a borderless existence with our neighbours in Australia if you are a NZ citizen (not a resident visa holder). This means I can get on a plane and go and live there without visas and they can come and live here with either a Resident Visa or Citizenship – and every year thousands do.
The issue however is a little more complex than it might at first appear and for years the Aussies have been quietly making it less and less palatable for New Zealanders to move there. One can only wonder why given the statistics on who goes in terms of their education and qualifications, income , tax paying and so on fall firmly in Australia’s favour.
Every study ever done on either side of the Tasman Sea shows that New Zealanders living in Australia are better educated than your average Aussie, earn more than your average Aussie and pay more tax than your average Aussie.
Which makes me wonder why New Zealanders have for so long been something of a political football in Australia. About 30 years ago when asked about the Kiwis leaving for Australia our Prime Minister of the day famously quipped ‘that it raises the IQ of both countries’.
Brilliant line and one that has gone down in NZ history.
Increasingly we are being made into second class citizens there.
In 1994 the Australian Government changed the law and created a special class of visa just for us – it is the ‘you can remain indefinitely visa but you are essentially only temporary resident’.
Then in what looks suspiciously like a case of Mathilda throwing her toys out of her Billabong the Aussies decided in 2004 to make things even tougher it appears because our Government wouldn’t agree to a common immigration policy and our failure to be bullied into reimbursing them for any social security and welfare payments made to our citizens there, they changed the rules and restricted New Zealanders access to welfare.
We have effectively become ‘guest workers’ and I, for one, resent it.
It is all so utterly illogical – their own data shows that ex-pat New Zealanders pay A$2.50 for every A$1.00 we receive in welfare and other social security. Call me a maths weakling but I’d call that a good deal for Australia….and question whether our witty Prime Minister wasn’t actually being serious back when he made the comment about IQ.
New Zealanders now living in Australia who have not gone through the same residence visa process as any other migrant are barred from all sorts of entitlements Australians are entitled to in education, unemployment assistance, accommodation support and health care and last year our new lowly status was made very clear to us when a number of New Zealanders’ homes were destroyed in the Queensland floods and only intervention by their Prime Minister on compassionate grounds saw these people being granted emergency assistance. The Aussies were quite happy to say ‘tough luck, you are Kiwis so you get nothing’ despite their being lawfully resident there, paying their taxes and I am sure contributing to the country.
Which contrasts with how we treated the many Australians whose homes were destroyed in the Christchurch earthquakes – they got everything that their New Zealand neighbours got in terms of financial assistance. I cannot imagine a situation where a New Zealander living in Christchurch would look at his Australian born neighbour, shrug and say, ‘nah mate, you are really just a guest worker here and you are on your own…..’.
Why New Zealand tolerates this inequity I will never know.
The old myth that people migrated to New Zealand only so they could move to Australia was never something I experienced in my line of work (and if anyone should have seen it it would be me). No doubt some migrants obtained their citizenship (until a few years ago it was easier to get only requiring PR here and three years spent in the country including time on temporary visas) and did move over but in my experience they tended to be people who were from ethnic minorities that had bigger and better established communities in Australia or who had been offered jobs, were transferred through work or wished to retire.
Now I find it hardly ever happens.
I have written before that we actively market Australia for those that wish to live there but we also use it as a back door to New Zealand. This is because if you secure a residence visa of Australia you are guaranteed a residence visa of New Zealand on arrival here. I love the fact we can offer it from a commercial perspective but from a national pride perspective I’d stop it. That perhaps would be stooping to their racist and jingoistic level and I’d like to think New Zealanders are better than that.
Given we allow Australian citizens and Resident Visa holders to step off the plane, waltz down to the local Work and Income office and register for the unemployment benefit, put their kids into our schools, use our hospitals without ever contributing a single cent to that system and lead a merry life off our sweat and toil, surely it isn’t too much to ask the same in return?
If there was any real evidence New Zealanders were a drain on the Australian economy then perhaps they might be justified but it is estimated every New Zealander who moves to Australia is worth $3000 net to their economy.
As long as we offer such generosity to them it is a little odd to me that our Government does not get a little tougher with them every time they chip away at New Zealanders’ rights and entitlements there.
We either have this spirit of togetherness and oneness with our Aussie cousins or we don’t.
If I was an Australian politician with a long term view (a little oxymoronic I grant you) I’d keep a careful eye on the future. The world’s climate is changing as it always has, only now, possibly more quickly.
Australia was initially settled at a time of relative wet and this allowed them to farm areas that were never suited for the purpose. Professor Tim Flannery (possibly the smartest Australian I have ever listened to or read) believes that the human carrying capacity of Australia is about 8 million people owing to the aridity of most parts of it and the propensity for drought. Of course they have three and a half times that many people. Access to fresh water is already a major economic and political issue and in years to come it is only going to get worse.
Although many parts of this country also gets regular droughts, overall we are not short of fresh, clean water.
I can see the day when the flow of people may well reverse and the Aussies may want to live in a country blessed with consistent rainfall and a less extreme climate.
I’d hate to think we might restrict their entry on account of the fact that there are too many of them arriving here and they are drinking our water…
Until next week
A few weeks ago my colleague Paul wrote a great piece for this blog, busting some of the common immigration myths.
It got good feedback and comment and as I sit here in Singapore interviewing hour after hour and day after day I realised we could, between us, write an entire book on immigration myths that we bust.
Of my four golden rules for clients to survive the immigration visa process with any of their mental faculties intact (assume nothing, suspend logic, just when you think you know the rules your visa will be processed by an officer who doesn’t) the fourth is to be very careful of spending too much time on the Immigration Department’s website – it can be dangerous for the fine print you miss or misinterpret, it is generally pretty confusing given both the way it is written and the annoying way different bureaucrats interpret their own criteria differently and inconsistently.
This week then I thought I would add a few more that crop up by those considering the Skilled Migrant Category (points) all the time.
First myth - The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is compulsory for applicants and partners. False. It is not. There are three ways of proving your English is of an acceptable standard.
1. The IELTS test and the Principal Applicant must score an average of 6.5 across the four modules tested of reading, writing , listening and speaking; or
2. The Principal Applicant has a recognised qualification (as in recognised for the award of points) for which English was the medium of instruction; or
3. Any other evidence that might satisfy an immigration officer.
Given most skilled migrants have to secure jobs right now following last year’s cuts in skilled migrant numbers most of the time we appear able to convince officers that the securing of that job satisfies the policy.
The second big myth is that qualifications, usually degrees, are mandatory to qualify under the skilled migrant category. That too is incorrect. For those aged 28 to 45 so long as they have an offer of skilled employment in New Zealand then the combination of their age, work experience and that job offer is generally enough to be selected from the ‘Pool’. Our message to those in this age bracket is that the key to certainty of outcome is the job offer in New Zealand, not the qualifications.
Myth # 3. In my book the single greatest myth of all, is the belief that it is illegal to enter New Zealand either visa free or on a Visitor Visa to look for work or to attend interviews. This too is incorrect but the confusion is understandable given we have all heard of stories of people being turned around at the airport. I hasten to add it has never happened to any of our clients but a few have come close.
Let me be clear – it is not legal to enter New Zealand visa free or on a Visitor Visa if you are already in possession of a job offer. Such people must apply for a Work Visa before they leave home. Those who are interested in settling in New Zealand and who require jobs to make that happen are acting within the law if they intend on their visit checking the country out as a possible destination to settle, to check out schools for the children, housing, cost of living and to explore their employability which includes applying for jobs. Those that apply for Visitor Visas before they come to the country who say the sole reason for their visit is a ‘holiday’ or to visit ‘friends and family’ but who also have an intention to look for work are treading a thin line and exposing themselves later (once they secure employment) to accusations from the Department that they lied on their Visitor Visa application form. This did happen to one of our clients when they secured a job while in New Zealand and we filed the Work Visa locally but we pointed out to the officer involved that the client was quite entitled to enter as a visitor and change their status once here. At no point did they lie or mislead the Department on any visa application they had made previously.
We deal with this issue by insisting that clients tell the truth on their Visitor Visa applications or if they are asked on arrival at the airport. If they do they have nothing to fear. They should never be turned around at the airport or denied the ability to change their status later.
Finally, I may rank among one of the harshest critics of the Immigration Department and I make no apology for calling them to account when they break or do not understand their own rules given the enormous stakes my clients are playing for, not to mention the horrendous application fees they charge these days. However, I always like to believe that I am big enough to offer credit where credit is due.
In a ‘can’t life be humbling?’ moment I was almost blocked from boarding my Singapore Airlines flight last Friday when leaving Auckland as my passport expires in 5 months. Although to enter New Zealand a passport need only be valid for three months, apparently in Singapore it is six. My understanding (and this was confirmed by a helpful local immigration officer I consulted with this week!) is this is a guideline only. Anyway having been warned by the airline I might be denied entry and having indemnified the airline they let me go to take my chances. On arrival I was pulled aside but granted a 30 day visa. I was told, however, the Malaysians might not be so accommodating this weekend when I head to Kuala Lumpur. So while I was flying my PA called the NZ High Commission in Singapore and asked them if they would be able to issue me a new passport this week. To their enormous credit and my great appreciation, Susan Woods of the High Commission immediately made contact with HQ in Wellington and got permission to issue me an Emergency Travel Document. On Monday I went to see her to drop off the application form and fee and she advised me it could be picked up the next day. I haven’t yet had a chance to collect it given the pressure of meetings but I am confident that it will be ready when I nip down Orchard Road tomorrow.
So to Susan Woods and any other official that played a part in getting me out of this little ironic slip up – a heartfelt thanks.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
Most people that know me, know that I have a bit of technology fetish, actually forget fetish its more like an obsession – if it has wires or flashing lights, it might as well be a teaspoon and I might as well be a magpie.
I also have a keen interest in engineering and science and one of the television shows I enjoy the most is the Discovery channel show - ‘Mythbusters’. It’s basically a show where two special effects engineers take common everyday myths and try to ‘confirm’ or ‘bust’ them. This usually ends in explosive mayhem, and a fantastic hour of television.
The show itself is also a great concept, taking what most people believe to be true because they heard it from a friend (who heard it from another friend, who heard it from their uncle’s brother-in-law) and working out whether it’s fact or fiction. When you think about it the power of ‘rumour’ can be so strong that seemingly intelligent, ordinary people can be utterly convinced by it; so much so that they will use these rumours to make monumental, life changing decisions.
So ‘myth busting’ can often be very entertaining (and enlightening).
The world of immigration is a breeding ground for myths, urban legends, and half-truths, which tend to originate from either slightly altered versions of people’s previous experiences or, on some occasions, the confusing information that flows from the Immigration Department itself. No matter where they come from, when it comes to immigration these myths can either be harmless, and simply make life a little frustrating or they can result in catastrophic failure.
I don’t have an industrial engineering workshop like they do on the Discovery channel show, but I do have quite a few successful applications under my belt and a significant amount of knowledge within the industry, enough to be able to ‘bust’ a few of the immigration urban legends I come across every day.
Let’s take a look at the top four on my list of greatest hits:
In fourth place, has to be one of the most common misconceptions among would-be skilled migrants, that being that you have to get 140 points to qualify. The Skilled Migrant Category pass mark system is incredibly confusing so most people can be forgiven for misinterpreting this one.
Yes the ‘automatic’ pass mark is 140 points; however you don’t have to get 140 points to make the grade. There are actually a number of different pass marks used to select people from the Expression of Interest Pool administered through six different ‘classes’. The Department introduces and removes these classes periodically with shifting pass marks for each. However, for those who have an offer of employment in New Zealand the 140 vanishes and is replaced by a much lower threshold - just 100 points (including the 50 points you secure for having a job) has been enough to qualify for as long as I can remember.
I would need a separate blog to explain the system, but the shortest way to sum it up is; it’s not always how many points you have but rather what you are claiming points for, that makes all the difference. Check out our ‘immigration policy’ page to find out more about the points process
Coming a close third on the list is the belief that in order to secure Residence with an offer of employment your salary needs to be NZD$55,000.00 per annum. I know where this one sprung up. There are immigration policies where having a salary of NZD$55,000.00 is important, but it’s only for Visas filed under very specific categories.
For a skilled migrant, the most important thing about salary is that it is ‘market rate’. This means that if the labour market considers $45,000.00 to be a reasonable salary for your position, and that position is skilled, then it will qualify for Residence. Unfortunately most applicants tend to focus on the salary and not whether the role is actually skilled (possibly a topic for another blog…stay tuned).
Coming it at second is people believing that you can 'renew' a work visa.
There is no such thing as a Work Visa renewal…seriously people there isn’t.
A lot of people assume that when their Work Visa comes close to an end they can simply fill out a form, pay a fee and roll another blue sticker off the roll. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.
Temporary Work Visas are just that – ‘temporary’. There are a few circumstances where these Visas can lead to Residence however, generally speaking, they are a means for employers to fill a gap in the labour market that exists at that point in time, but not forever. There is an expectation from the Immigration Department (no matter how impractical it might be) that the employer attempts to train people for that particular job or that the labour market adjusts to have more available New Zealand candidates over time. The assumption is that you won’t be needed to fill that temporary skills gap forever.
Every time you file a new Work Visa application you need to meet the relevant policy requirements, and for an Essential Skills Work Visa that means showing that you are the only suitable applicant available…even if you have been in the position for years beforehand.
In first place has to be my absolute favourite, and kind of like the ‘Lord of the Myths’ – one myth to bind them all. It’s that old classic - “But my friend/sister/aunty/uncle/neighbour’s parakeet told me…”
There are very few people that understand immigration policy well enough to be able to decipher it and translate it into everyday English and I work with most of them. Even the people who create and administer the rules struggle to deliver them consistently or accurately.
Yet staggeringly day in and day out we encounter people who have taken advice from either a New Zealander who thinks that owning a 1980’s version of the Reader’s Digest qualifies them to be a leading authority on all things legal in New Zealand or from a fellow migrant who has literally unpacked their suitcase the day before. Of course it’s natural to try and seek information from those who have gone through the process, but ask yourself this, if your oracle of information had made a complete mess of their own application with mistakes at every turn and simply managed to fall successfully through the gaps, would they tell you?
No matter how knowledgeable Bob, Jim or Jacobus from down the road might appear to be, no one’s migration situation is the exactly the same, and everyone’s circumstances needs a different approach. What might have worked for someone before might not work for you now and the rule book often gets very lost in translation.
What friends, relatives, and well intentioned employers often tell you is far from accurate so that is why we rank “But my friends told me…” as the number one ‘myth’ on the countdown.
So there you have it, a small but popular selection of what could potentially be a very long list of myths and mistruths that we come across more often than we should. For most people these myths will do little more than cause some frustration but for an unfortunate few, misinterpreting the rules, following bad advice or simply making dangerous assumptions ends up in tragic circumstances. I have seen people whose applications have simply been delayed because of an immigration myth and then those who have ended up on a slow boat home.
Like anything in life that’s worth doing, do it right the first time round. After all would you trust Jim down the road who works as an Accountant to fix the brakes on your car or would you Google open heart surgery as a DIY project?
The Southern Man returns later this week…
The Southern Man takes a break this week and goes ‘back to school’ with our colleagues in Australia, coming to terms with the Immigration rules across the ditch. Trust me if you thought New Zealand was confusing, the Australians have the concept of ‘red-tape’ down to a fine art.
In his place, I wanted to share a short story that illustrates both how utterly inconsistent the immigration system can be (a topic that has featured regularly here) as well as the importance of knowing how it works and who to talk to – a skill we have very carefully fine tuned in this business.
I recently assisted a very skilled young client who had been in New Zealand as a Student studying towards a professional Master’s Degree. She had been here for a year, having spent thousands of dollars on our education system with a view to living here permanently at some point in the future. Half way through her Master’s course she was offered the option of ‘graduating early’ with a Post Graduate qualification, and she had also been offered skilled employment with a well known New Zealand company, so she felt it would make sense to move to a Work Visa and then apply for Residence. Exactly the kind of migrant that New Zealand wants really, having spent significant money here and being able to secure a skilled job offer and for New Zealand to retain her skills.
I won’t bore you with the technical details (unless you really want me to), but this kind of situation required a very carefully thought out strategy and a little bit of ‘policy manoeuvring’ to make it work, again something we have fine tuned! Given that it wasn’t the most straight-forward of cases, I did what we often do around here and contacted a senior person within Immigration who understands the logic and takes a few minutes to consider the plan. They aren’t easy to find and they certainly don’t grow on trees, but we know a few and so the call was made.
“Sounds like a good plan to me” was the general response, so off we went. Application prepared, filed and lodged in quick succession.
First problem occurred when the application ended up with an entirely separate branch of INZ (we shall call that branch number two) and not with the person with whom I had discussed the plan. Shouldn’t be an issue though right, after all it is one organisation?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
When approached about this particular application, another senior officer, at branch number two, gave me the following general response; “It’s not my problem” and “We don’t approve those sorts of applications”…“We have started toughening up on those kinds of things”. Really? So you don’t work for the same Government department with the same lovely blue logo and the same set of rules?
It took a considerable amount of will power and teeth grinding to stomach that call, but nonetheless we persisted and reverted back to branch number one to try and sort out this mess. The conversation with branch number one was the polar opposite and of course ‘we want this kind of applicant…why wouldn’t we?’
In the end, we had to resort to withdrawing the original application from branch number two, changing the plan and filing an entirely new application with branch number one, which incidentally was approved inside of a week.
If I was the Government bean counter, sitting in my ivory tower somewhere in Wellington, the first thing I would have wanted to know is, “who on earth authorised such a colossal waste of man hours?”, three separate conversations, half a dozen officers involved in the process and numerous emails and phone calls from me. All of which could have been so easily avoided.
Again, if I was the head of the department, sitting in a slightly larger office in the same ivory tower (a few floors up from the bean counter) the next thing I would want to know is why on earth we have two employees of the same organisation with completely different attitudes, only one of which has any concern for the actual migrant. For all their talk of ‘customised service’ and ‘customers not applicants’ this was hardly a good example…perhaps branch number two missed that memo?
These are all questions that I suspect will go unanswered…
I do, however, take my hat off to the officer (and her team) that did initially and finally assist me, and although we rarely have praise for INZ (as we don’t have much cause to offer it), this particular individual took a common sense, practical approach to what was a relatively simple problem. She saw the benefit that this migrant would bring and looked at how we could keep her in New Zealand, rather than whether or not it was ‘her problem’.
But there in lies the rub; unless you know who to speak to and how to negotiate it, this scenario could have panned out very differently for the client. If there was ever a justification for seeking the services of an advisor this is it – the rampant inconsistency within the immigration system is well…to put it mildly – very scary.
Just because you get one answer from one officer doesn’t necessarily mean that your problems are solved, and being able to speak ‘the language’ goes a long way when it comes to dealing with the immigration service. It isn’t all forms and tick boxes and any suggestion that the system is black and white, should be replaced with a light shade of grey. The immigration system operates in a number of miniature kingdoms, each with their own rulers (often tyrants) and their own interpretation of how the laws of the land should (or shouldn’t) be applied.
These kinds of examples are rampant throughout the system and we see it day in day out, and to be honest, it’s why we do what we do. I am not claiming to have a ‘Batman complex’ but there is always a certain sense of satisfaction to be derived for winning the battle for the ‘little guy’ or in this case girl.
Getting the outcome that you know a client deserves is rewarding and whilst we don’t run around wearing capes or masks with pointy ears, we do often feel like we serve up a little bit of justice…at least for the migrants who we deal with.
The Southern Man returns next week, with tales of his travels so until then…
Paul Janssen - standing in for the Southern Man.
If you have no choice in where you have to go to obtain a service are you a customer or a captive?
I so tire of Governments and the state functionaries they employ using the language of the private sector and acting as if they have ‘customers’ when the poor sods that have to use them have nowhere else to go and are at their mercy. They are not customers - they are captives and as a consequence cannot expect the same market efficiencies and business disciplines to apply to that institution that apply say, to your or my business.
Nothing better illustrates the captive versus customer illusion of these state functionaries than last week’s announcement by the Immigration Department that they are putting up their visa fees from 2 July by an eye watering (and market damaging) 16.7%. This in a country where inflation is around 2%.
In what must be the cheekiest bit of spin ever in my 23 years in the industry, the Government justified the increase in fees of over 8 times the current inflation rate on the fact that migrant numbers are lower than what the Government was expecting.
Ah, hello…….for the past 18 months the numbers of Expressions of Interest (EOIs) being selected from the Skilled Migrant ‘Pool’ has been cut by a third from historical levels by the Government, yet apparently the Departmental Spin Doctor is surprised that they are not approving as many Resident Visas as before those cuts.
Maths 101 anyone?
If your quota is 27,000 Resident Visas a year and you used to have to select around 19,500 EOIs annually to ensure you issued 27,000 Resident Visas, how do you expect to issue 27,000 Resident Visas when selecting only 14,300 EOIs??
If a 270km car journey usually takes a full tank of gas but for this trip you decide to only put in two thirds of a tank of gas you should not be surprised if you run out of petrol.
They are either more stupid at maths than even I believe and someone really is surprised that numbers are down or the Government is lying. Again.
Regular readers of the “Letters from New Zealand” will recall I finally got the Immigration Department to admit around a year ago that they had slashed Skilled Migrant numbers by around a third. One can only conclude on the orders of the Government.
At the time they advised me that they were confident they would issue their quota of Resident Visas. It was as obvious then, as it is obvious now, they could not.
And they haven’t. Not even close.
My allegations were initially met with denials and as always the senior state functionaries inside the Department probably hoped that if they ignored me, or told me I had it all wrong that I might go away.
Unfortunately for them the evidence did not lie. And I did not go away.
In the end, they confirmed they had cut Skilled Migrant numbers and further advised that until the economy improved and unemployment fell, EOI selection numbers would remain lower than they had publicly stated they wanted.
Yet now they feign surprise that migrant numbers are down!
The cuts in numbers that began 18 months ago has had huge implications on many levels. Not least the fact that no one (but us) appeared to be telling prospective migrants that although historically they may have had sufficient ‘points’ to be selected from the Pool, they now stood no chance and should not waste their money filing these EOIs.
If Expressions of Interest were free and migration was not an enormous logistical, emotional and financial exercise for applicants my anger might not be as intense as it was.
However, at $440 a pop for Expressions of Interest that now stand no chance of success still leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. Thankfully our clients were not adversely affected because we realised what was happening and advised them accordingly.
An important point in all of this is that the Immigration Department is self funding – that is to say, user pays. It is the migrants that fund this inefficient and monopolistic Department.
If I ran my business in such a way, issued such misleading statements and continued to encourage clients to file applications that were now 16.7% more expensive and certain to fail I would lose my licence to practice and would probably be charged with fraud.
This fee increase means the average migrant family of four applying for Skilled Migrant entry will now pay between NZ$5000 - $7000 in Government fees and charges.
Will migrants now get a service that is 16.7% quicker? Or 16.7% more efficient? Or 16.7% more accurate? Or 16.7% more consistent in its decision making?
If this sort of fee increase was announced as applying to anything that New Zealanders had to buy in the current environment such as car licences, passports, local body rates or even visits to the doctor there would be an absolute outcry.
The Government should have had the courage to call it how it really is – they can increase the fees so they have and skip the Spin Doctors’ pathetic attempt to explain it.
Naturally they will get away with it because migrants are largely defenceless against the monopolistic juggernaut that is the Immigration Department.
And when the unemployment rate falls to 5.5% and the Government decides they want more migrants so they return to selecting the 19,500 EOIs required to fill their annualised rolling quota of 27,000 will they drop the fees they charge by 16.7% given this is only a self funding operation and the increase is only a consequence of fewer visa applications?
I somehow doubt it.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
We have just helped a family get their Resident Visas under the Skilled Migrant Category in about three weeks. Although this isn’t the quickest case we have argued – I think the record is 24 hours - this was particularly pleasing given the complex policy barriers that seemingly conspired in an attempt to collapse the whole application.
In this case we needed to find a solution to the real conflict that exists between temporary (Essential Skills Work Visa) and permanent (Resident Visa) entry policies where labour market tests apply to one (the Work Visa) but not to the other (Residence).
A brief history is required.
The client travelled to New Zealand requiring an offer of skilled employment to secure the points to be granted Residence. Our client obtained a job offer to work as a Personal Assistant (PA). This occupation is ‘skilled’ for the purpose of the Skilled Migrant Category and is worth 50 points. However, because it usually takes the Immigration Department 6-9 months to process the Resident Visa we needed to get a Work Visa.
So where is the conflict?
Essential Skills Work Visa policy requires that we demonstrate the employer had made a genuine effort to fill the vacancy, that our client was the only suitable applicant and that no New Zealander should be able to fill the vacancy. That, as I think you can imagine, is a fairly high threshold and helps explain why many Work Visas are declined each year.
Residence policy, however, does not apply this same test. A Resident Visa can be issued simply because the position is skilled and relevant to the applicant’s work experience or qualifications. There is zero interest in whether the position can be filled by a local or not.
This puts the Immigration Department in a difficult position.
In this case the client’s Expression of Interest (EOI) had been selected from the Pool at the same time as the Work Visa application had been filed. An Invitation to Apply for Residence was, as it should be, issued a short time later, as the client had a prima facie claim to a Resident Visa.
Then the Department faced a real dilemma. On the one hand the temporary team processing the Work Visa advised us that it believed the position was one that should be able to be filled locally. Therefore the Work Visa application was going to be declined in line with that temporary entry policy.
We countered that argument by saying that even if we agreed this is a position that should be able to be filled locally, to prevent the applicant taking up the position would be to sabotage the Residence application for which that the Department had just issued an Invitation to Apply.
The initial and predictable reaction from the Department was to tell us that the client was a little premature in filing the Expression of Interest. This of course is nonsense. Why would the client not file their Expression of Interest if they met all the requirements to obtain a Resident Visa?
We suggested that a way through this conflict in the two policies was pretty simple – grant the Work Visa as an exception to policy and let the Residence cards fall where they may a number of months later.
That was rejected.
We then suggested that there was an even more simpler solution – because our clients generally (if they have followed our instructions) have all the paperwork to prove their points, health, identity and character ready to file when they are invited to apply for Residence, the Department should, once the Residence application was filed, prioritise it and process it with urgency. If they would agree to that it would allow the family to secure their Resident Visas and make redundant the need for the Work Visa.
Much to our surprise they decided this was perhaps the lesser of the two evils (from their perspective) following a private meeting with the Branch Manager.
This was a first for this local branch in all our years of dealing with them. It is a commonsense solution we have suggested to other branches that only some have acted on.
Of course the difficulty that this very sensible and pragmatic approach now raises is why we wouldn’t stop filing Work Visas for all clients with job offers where the argument could be made that locals should be able to fill the position offered to the migrant. Shouldn’t INZ offer all such clients ‘priority processing’?
In this way the clients would save significant money – Government fees are not cheap.
The Department becomes more efficient and productive – why process temporary Work Visas and ‘double handle’ paperwork when you can process one Residence application and be done with it?
This answer remains outstanding and as is usual we are told this is a ‘one off’ but we may be about to file another application for another PA who is also going to run smack bang into this conflict between Work and Residence policy.
It will be interesting to see if the same solution is offered to a second client in the same situation.
I have a view that current Work Visa policy is daft. Of course a New Zealander should almost always be able to fill any vacancy offered to a migrant but the fact of the matter is that there are many positions, that for all sorts of reasons, locals are simply unwilling or unqualified to fill.
Skilled migrants become the meat in the sandwich between a Government rightly wanting to lower local unemployment rates and employers wanting candidates willing and able to do jobs.
In the absence of any change in policy that, for example, allows the automatic issue of a Work Visa to an applicant who has been invited to apply for Residence (perhaps through licensed advisers like ourselves with a track record of close to 100% success), the Department is going to repeatedly be put in the situation described above.
On this occasion I have to offer a bouquet to the Branch Manager for working with us so closely to quickly find a solution that worked for the family.
The clients of course, having suffered three weeks of sleepless nights wondering if IMMagine could solve the problem were elated (and very relieved).
A pity, however, that Government requires us to argue each of these cases individually rather than put in place some commonsense policy alternatives that might allow clients like these to not feel like the system is working against them until the minute when their Visas are actually issued.
It isn’t rocket science.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man