A (kind of) fairytale - Part II
Posted by Iain on Dec. 11, 2020, 11:06 a.m. in Immigration New Zealand
(Dear Reader, if you haven’t read Part I of ‘A (kind of) fairytale’ please do. It was posted two weeks ago.
Down at Immigration headquarters in Neverland, the senior ranking visa fairy pressed his eyes to his microscope and, steadying the hand that held his nano-slicer with a light but firm grasp, he got ready to split some more hairs.
A short while later he received a message from the wise immigration advisor asking him to explain clearly why one animal doctor was granted a border exemption to enter Neverland, but the second was not, especially given the acute shortage of all animal doctors across Neverland.
The senior ranking visa fairy sighed with frustration. “What is wrong with this adviser? Doesn't he know I'm here to keep him and his fellow countrymen and women safe from the nasty virus that is ravaging the world, but not Neverland? I don't have time for this.’
The senior ranking visa fairy took out his quill and dipped it in his bottle of ink.
He wrote to the wise immigration advisor that the first priority of the government of Neverland is keeping its citizens "safe" from the nasty virus.
He went on to say that there was a material difference between the two animal doctors who had applied for border entry exemptions. One had a Master Degree and one a Bachelor Degree. One was being paid more than the other. Although both were going to be operating on small animals one was going to be doing more operations than the other. For these three reasons one was approved and one was denied the border exemption. This he scratched across the parchment, rolled into a tube, tied to a pigeon and sent it flying in the general direction of Auckland.
Upon reading this justification two things occurred to the wise immigration adviser.
Neverland has two weeks of managed isolation in order to keep the good folk of Neverland safe from the nasty virus. Many short-term and temporary workers including sheep shearers, fruit pickers, fishermen, netball teams, rugby teams and two cricket teams had all been deemed "critical workers’ and granted border exemptions. The fact that many of them, in particular fishermen from Russia and cricketers from Pakistan were found to be riddled with the nasty virus when they entered their 14 days of managed isolation appeared to have been lost on the senior ranking visa fairy. The 14 days of managed isolation was the very mechanism to keep the good people of Neverland safe from the nasty virus. It follows therefore that if the animal doctor was allowed in he too would go into 14 days of managed isolation and keep the inhabitants of Neverland safe.
It also occurred to the wise immigration adviser that contrary to what the senior fairy had scratched on his parchment, that all the senior ranking visa fairy had actually done was to explain the difference between the two Vets - something already obvious and known to the wise immigration adviser. The ranking fairy had failed to explain in any meaningful way why one was deemed to meet the definition of ‘unique specialist or technical skills not readily available in Neverland’ and one did not. All he said is that one didn't meet the requirements and one did.
The reader of this (kind of) fairytale should understand that there is a fairly simple definition of who should and who should not be allowed into Neverland and that is it. Specialist skills not readily available locally. Meaning you are highly skilled and there will likely be a lot of employers in Neverland looking to fill vacancies. Like animal doctors?
Nothing in there about minimum level of qualifications, minimum salaries or that two workers in the same discipline must be doing identical jobs when they get to Neverland…
So the wise immigration officer prepared another email in response. He asked three questions:
1. To get a border exemption must an animal doctor hold a master degree?
2. To get a border exemption is there a minimum salary requirement?
3. To get a border exemption must an animal doctor be doing a certain type of animal health work?
The wise immigration adviser also asked the senior ranking visa fairy how many of those fishermen, fruit pickers, sheep shearers, heavy farm machinery drivers and others would be earning at least the salary of the second animal doctor who was denied entry given that he is going to be paid a six-figure salary? Furthermore he pondered how many fruit pickers would hold Master degrees in…fruit picking and sheep shearing?
Tearing himself away from the hairsplitting exercise going on under his microscope the senior ranking visa fairy once again reached for his quill and penned a short blunt message in reply.
‘Hi Wise Immigration Adviser
I explained why one exemption can be justified and one not in my last message to you. Good day to you sir.’
Or words to that effect
This of course was blatantly untrue and the wise immigration adviser fumed even though he understood this is how things work in Neverland’s visa operation. He thought there is clearly a bar over which all applicants must leap in order to get a border exemption but at what height exactly is that bar set? It was low enough for one animal doctor to clear with ease but too high for another. Why? He was none the wiser after the senior ranking visa fairy had effectively told him to sod off.
The wise immigration adviser is not one to just walk away when these visa fairies try to deflect. He sent another message to the senior ranking visa fairy telling him that he was not going to let this go. He expected a reply explaining exactly how high that bar is. If a wise immigration adviser does not know how high that bar is, or the visa fairies themselves do not know, as clearly they don’t given the process appears to be more like a lottery than a considered process, how can anyone, in government or the private sector, advise someone to apply for a border exemption or not?
The sun went down and the moon came up. The stars twinkled overhead.
The moon went down and the sun came up.
The wise immigration adviser saw no message from the senior ranking visa fairy in his inbox and no pigeon sitting on his widowsill.
The sun tracked across the sky on the second day and disappeared over the horizon and the wise immigration adviser decided to send another message to the senior ranking visa fairy and said I am not going to go away, I expect an answer that I can explain to the client who was denied the exemption.
To which he received an out of office auto reply. A common occurrence mid week in Neverland when trying to reach state functionary fairies. Probably in a "calibration" session, or a ‘knowledge transfer circle’, discussing ‘product suites’ and ‘cohorts’ or even doing a ‘piece of work’ on something like border exemptions the wise immigration adviser concluded.
The following morning the wise immigration adviser awoke. As he sipped his first hot beverage on that humid and sultry morning, he reached for his iPad and started reading the news from Neverland and around the world. The first article that caught his eye from Neverland was confirmation that the immigration department had since July 2020 granted 71 border exemptions to thespians and assorted movie makers along with their partners and children.
It cannot be he sputtered into his coffee!
The wise immigration adviser grew angry and sad in equal measure.
Despite the animal doctor that was denied entry having teenage children permanently living in Neverland and whose mother (the animal doctor’s former wife) was being treated for a life threatening illness, he was still denied entry to join them. Yet the children of thespians who have not been invited to apply for residency in Neverland as the animal doctor has, who have not filed Residency applications as the animal doctor has, who do not work in occupations deemed to be in acute demand in Neverland as animal doctors are, who are in Neverland for a short time and not bringing the skills for the longest time as the animal doctor will be, were allowed to enter Neverland.
The wise immigration adviser’s blood started to boil. It was obvious that the senior ranking visa fairy must have known about those 71 thespians and their entourages that had been allowed into Neverland when he justified denying the second animal doctor entry. He knew that not only was the animal doctor coming to live permanently in Neverland but his children needed him more than ever given the illness of their mother.
He reminded himself this is how the immigration authorities in Neverland work. Not just inconsistent but also cruel.
And dear reader you may have read that Neverland is ruled by a kindly soul, with a heart full of love and caring and who is much loved by her people. She sprinkles fairy dust wherever she goes.
The wise immigration adviser could only ponder at what all those gullible people of Neverland might think if they realised what really goes on under the command of the Loving Fairy.
How the Loving Fairy employs an army of hair-splitting functionaries blind to their own inconsistencies and cruelty.
And how they might feel if they realised that what they have just read here is not in fact a fairytale, but a true story.
Until next week
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Thanks, all hands are not equal
The story had me in suspense up to the end, and that's without having any skin in the game myself. Sorry that it didn't come out more favourably.
One thing I was wondering while reading - is there nothing that can be done? Who is in charge of the senior ranking visa officer, and more generally, the problems at INZ? I haven't been in this country long enough to understand where the levers of power and influence are located, but there must be some way to influence this broken system. Is it media exposure (and if so - have you considered reaching out to any journalists?)? Or political pressure (in which case - who or which organisation would need to talk to whom in the government or civil service??)?
In the case of the EOI selection suspension, I get the feeling that the actual reason behind it is in order to work off the application backlog, which was becoming an eyesore (never mind the EOI, submitted or un-submitted, backlog, since that is conveniently out of sight). The fact that they did this seems to me that there was something that got through to someone about the suffering they were causing through their own unreasonable policies. Could that be the case here, that something could happen that could lead to some positive progress?
On the other hand, perhaps there is a reason that is the real one for the apparent arbitrariness, but one that they are embarrassed or unwilling to divulge (like the secret list of countries that trigger a SAT review). In that case, the blow-offs you have experienced make more sense. And again going back to the EOI selection suspension, that's another case where their stated reason is at odds with reality, so this wouldn't be the first example of smoke screens to cover hidden agendas. Or am I just being paranoid?
Also - are you going to continue following up on your line of questions to the senior visa officer?
As my first boss who was a former Minister of Immigration told me once 'Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me'. I don't give INZ enough credit for coordination to imagine they are out to get anyone in particular. They'd have trouble making a cup of tea most days.
To me the problem is simple. Three reasons explain it. 1. INZ is a monopoly and cannot go out of business. They lack the discipline of those of us with competition which keeps us sharp. They can do what they want. 2. INZ has decided, as an anti corruption measure, that no one can direct a subordinate what to decision to make on a visa application. 3. Senior managers, most of whom started on the counter assessing visas, no longer dirty their hands looking at cases where professionals like us point out what appears to be an incorrect decision.
With so many new staff coming on board as a third leave every year we have significant numbers of officers who don't know what they are doing and no one higher up the food chain will intervene - except on very rare occasions. The result is the circus we deal with every day....
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