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Immigration Blog

REGULAR POSTS FROM NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA

Posts with tag: family visa

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 entering your details below.

The value of a good adviser

Posted by Iain on June 4, 2021, 12:52 p.m. in Immigration New Zealand

 

In these trying times of economic uncertainty deciding whether or not to use a competent immigration consultancy can be a difficult choice. Given there’s so much information available online on government websites and on social media the question is constantly asked ‘Are agents worth it?’

To which I would reply that given the majority of those that file Expressions of Interest in Residence of NZ or Australia themselves are declined, the answer is pretty obvious.

You might think of course he’d say that.

Let me give you an example of ‘value add’ and how having strong advocacy often makes a tremendous difference.

An Indian national came to NZ as an international student to do a Master’s programme with her partner. This was done knowing the Government encouraged international study as a pathway to residence by offering a two (now three) year open work visa once study was complete and a residence if they scored enough points. An added bonus was international students doing Master degrees have full-time work rights. The family was not our clients at that stage but did that all themselves.

When we met the client she had her NZ Masters degree, an ongoing and full-time job and had worked her way from managing one Auckland Subway store to managing two. This was at the time the government of the day was trying to purge the immigration system of tens of thousands of International students looking for residence. My advice to the client when she and her husband sought our advice was she ticked all the wrong boxes - on paper she looked to be a very good candidate for residence but she had a number of the ‘unspoken’ traits INZ would undoubtedly try and use against her - a former international student, a graduate job search visa, in a retail management role and working for a ‘fast food’ operation. It couldn’t be worse.

INZ likes to tell the world that the system is objective and every case is assessed on its merits. We have long known this to be untrue and there are plenty of unwritten rules. This was going to be a classic and I saw it coming so had the arguments ready.

Having carefully read her job description (for which INZ had granted a labour market tested work visa for ‘skilled employment’), grilling her on her tasks and daily responsibilities and then discussing all of this with her employer, we were satisfied the job she had was genuine (she’d been working there for around 18 months), was sustainable (the employer paid her salary on time and as per her employment contract) and the role was skilled (managerial expertise is the requirement).

In time INZ did exactly as I expected they would. They tried to argue the role was not skilled and was a ‘supervisor’ role. They were dead wrong.  Endless arguments based on the reality of the role fell on deaf ears and was all the proof I ever needed that their mantra of ‘each case on its merits’ is to put it bluntly, a lie. They pre-determined the outcome and tried to make the facts fit that conclusion.

Ultimately, the client was declined.

However, around that time the Government changed the definition of what constituted ‘skilled employment in NZ’ from one based on an assessment of tasks to one based on the ‘effective hourly rate’ the applicant was paid. I saw an opening. This client was earning less than that effective hourly rate when we filed the resident visa. I explained to her boss that if he gave her a pay rise to the minimum effective hourly rate this satisfied a clearly ‘black and white’ criteria and INZ would have to deem it skilled. The employer agreed and we presented a new application with this new salary meeting INZ’s new definition of skilled.

To my surprise INZ accused the applicant of being a ‘risk to the integrity of the immigration system’. Once I picked myself up off the floor, I asked them to explain the logic. They said the client was only given the new salary to meet the criteria of skilled employment.  That is correct I advised INZ, the employer does not want to lose her but this is your rule INZ and the employer is simply structuring his employment relationship so his employee met that rule. Simple, moral, logical and above all, legal.

INZ continued to argue, disingenuously, that the job offer could not have been ‘genuine’ because of the ‘sudden’ pay rise (is there any other sort of pay rise?). I rebutted that the client had by then been working for the employer for two years so how could the job not be genuine? And yes, the ‘sudden’ pay rise was designed so this employer could keep this highly skilled and educated migrant. The employer was simply playing by INZ’s rules.

I argued with INZ that when the pass mark was raised to 160 points in October 2016 I told any number of clients working in Auckland they needed to change jobs and move outside of Auckland to get the additional 30 points available; others that their partner needed to get a job to add 20 points to their overall claim, others to up-skill and get higher qualifications while in NZ to ensure they had a higher points score. I advised clients to reduce their hours to increase their effective hourly rate. I have told plenty more to give back the company car and get paid a higher salary in lieu and to provide their own vehicle and to forgo commissions and get salary instead. To do so is not dodgy and is certainly perfectly legal representing very good immigration advice. We don’t make the rules I tell everyone but we will tell people how to structure their lives and their visa applications to make sure they meet them.

I had never had INZ argue that any of those clients who had structured their lives to benefit from immigration criteria were a ‘risk to the integrity of the immigration system’. I pointed out to those higher up the food chain inside INZ that it is a bit like tax law - tax evasion is illegal; tax avoidance is not.

Surely an immigrant is entitled to structure their lives so as to maximise the points they can claim to ensure they secure residence? And if they can’t, against which criteria can’t they?

Eventually INZ backed off and approved the client’s residence but what a battle.

A rational person might think INZ would learn from this sort of thing but they don’t. You can imagine our surprise when a few weeks ago another client was also accused of being a threat to the integrity of the immigration system for precisely the same reason - a ‘sudden’ pay rise which made his job skilled by definition. This client had also been working for the company for a long time. As we had done previously we advised INZ that any employer can pay anything they like so long as it is over a statutory minimum and represents ‘market rates’. All designed to protect migrants from exploitation and being paid too little - we weren’t aware the government was concerned about migrants being paid too much.

They fought and fought. They called the client. They called the employer, clearly hoping one or the other would say something which confirmed in their stilted, poisoned world view that there was something dodgy with what had been done. The employer simply pointed out the obvious.

We won that case as well.

Two years after I thought we had helped INZ management understand that if you define skilled employment by what people are paid there will be many who will get pay rises to ensure they stay in the country, that migrants will change jobs or their circumstances to improve their chances of staying and in doing so they do not commit a federal crime. To try and frame this as some sort of ‘risk to the integrity of the system’ is aberrant nonsense and shows the system up for what it really is.

With the right Adviser controlling the flow of information to the bureaucracy and keeping these officers applying the rules as they should be applied, is the essence of how we add so much value, every day.

In a wonderful ending to this story I am over the moon to advise that our ‘pin up family’ for families split by the border and an uncaring Government, who I wrote an article for stuff.co.nz recently, was last night approved residence. The client’s husband and ten-year-old daughter (not hugged for over 420 days by her mum) will be flying to NZ Sunday to start their two weeks of managed isolation and their new lives. At last for them the nightmare ends, not because of INZ or the Government or iNZ but in spite of them. The client had some very nice words for the team at IMMagine.

Until next week

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man 

 


Finally a Good News Story

Posted by Iain on May 21, 2021, 11:16 a.m. in Healthcare

 

In 2018 we agreed to represent a couple in their early fifties from South Africa. Let’s call them Joe and Lucy (not their real names obviously). With to be under 56 years old to file a resident visa as skilled migrants, the clock was ticking. We had moved this couple’s daughter and grandchildren to New Zealand a few years earlier. All three adult children were by then living in New Zealand. Among all the advisers they could have chosen, this couple chose us on the back of their New Zealand based family’s advice.

Quick background. Client arrived in NZ, did all the usual stuff of trying to find skilled employment, suffering rejection along the way - no work visa, no interview, disinterest by recruiters because of visa status, HR Managers not wanting to involve themselves in visa processes, employer wariness, blah blah blah. The usual story. After a few months Lucy found a great job, well suited to her history in technical sales management. We secured her a job specific work visa. We secured Joe a partnership based work visa. He arrived and used that job to secure work with the NZ Government.

Around the time she secured her role, we filed their Expression of Interest given the clients had a prima facie claim to 160 plus points. As expected it was selected quickly and they were invited to file their resident visa application. We did so in March 2020.

Into the so called ‘managed queue’ (backlog) the application went. Then it was likely to take two years to secure residence.  Our advice was unless Lucy could find a higher paying job and we could get her case transferred into the ‘priority processing queue’ she could do nothing but put her life on hold and be patient. Like so many trying to escape the 30 month wait for residence these days, Lucy went and found that better paying job. We got her a variation of conditions to her work visa to take up the new job.

So far so good. So far so normal… 18 months since we met for the first time.

In July 2020 a bombshell. Joe was diagnosed with possible colo-rectal cancer. The couple realised immediately the implications for their future in New Zealand.

Migrants are expected to have a very high standard of health to secure residence at the time the decision on their residence is made (unfairly, not when the government takes their money). The rules are pretty clear when it comes to cancer - an applicant will not be deemed to be of an ‘acceptable standard’, if the chances of them being alive 5 years after diagnosis and treatment isn’t at least 90%.  Following treatment, involving pre-surgery chemo, Joe provided us with advice from his Oncologist that his odds of survival to 5 years was only between 50% and 70%.  A bitter blow. I tried to delay INZ making a decision for as long as possible to allow the maximum time for Joe to start his recovery and for us to get feedback on the success of the operation. I asked them to put someone else in that queue ahead of Joe and Lucy - it would make no difference to INZ but potentially be a game changer for Joe. Any way we sliced it Joe was not, on the face of it, going to be eligible any longer. INZ would have none of it (even though they don’t mind operating a 24-month processing queue and we only filed residence in July 2020).

Immigration policy allows someone applying for residence to seek what is called a medical waiver. This basically allows an applicant to put forward the best possible evidence for allowing them to stay. As part of the medical waiver all parties recognise the health of that person is not up to scratch. It is not a box ticking exercise and is highly subjective. The arguments must be carefully presented and the evidence of a high standard.

In this case we essentially argued:

     All of Lucy’s adult family and her grandchildren live in New Zealand - she is close by in the event the family needed help and support and not 16,000km away

     Lucy has no immediate family left in South Africa 

     One of Lucy’s adult children in NZ has, since he was granted residence, developed a degenerative disease - forcing his mother to leave when she can offer support to him, his partner and his children would be unreasonable and inhumane 

     Lucy had a well-paying job at least twice the median average - well paying enough to get her priority processing of her residence based on (the spurious in my view) ‘value’ (according to INZ management) she represents to the economy

     Lucy and Joe were increasingly well settled and contributing to the economy 

     Lucy had a level of specialist skill that INZ had recognised through the grant of her work visa which could not have been granted if INZ felt a local was being denied a job

     Over her and Joe’s remaining guaranteed working lives they’d contribute at least $450,000 in personal taxes (with Lucy the bulk of that) far outstripping any possible cost for any potential future treatment for Joe i.e. they would likely be net contributors to NZ’s tax base even if Joe needs further treatment

     The inability of the Health Ministry to quantify the cost of any future treatment that ‘may’ (according to the immigration rule book) be required. On these criteria he might need nothing or he might need a lot - such is the nature of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

That final point was the real eye opener for me and shows how asking the right questions can have such a huge impact on outcomes - his Specialist who did the operation, like so many specialists in NZ is a self employed private practitioner who works in the public system. Obviously he has his charges that the tax payers front but it was incredible to me to learn that the heath system itself could not tell him, and therefore us, what the cost of this future treatment might be. Or what the tax payers had paid for the treatment to date. A stunning and very useful revelation and any Immigration Advisers reading this should take note! In my view if INZ could not quantify the future cost that ‘might’ be required and given while Joe is on his current work visa (valid like everyone thanks to Covid, till December 2020) he is covered by the public health system anyway (that’s why if you plan on staying 12 months or more you have to do a full medical to get a work visa), then the ‘cost’ was impossible for INZ to pin down. It would not be fair in our view to deny someone residence citing possible cost if the Government itself cannot tell us what that cost was or might be.

I confess quietly I wasn’t quite so confident but in my mind I thought if the residence was declined there was a very good argument for humanitarian approval under appeal given the facts above. What bothered me was having a client with a known probability of survival in five years as low as 50% was not a great hand to play. However, given at IMMagine we had argued many medical waivers including a number of clients who had been diagnosed and treated for cancer for far less than 5 years I was not without a strong sense of conviction it was a medical waiver, that when all other factors were taken into account, should be approved.

But this is INZ we are talking about…

We were therefore excited and proud beyond words when the case was approved on 20 May. INZ accepted our arguments. 

This is the part of this job I love. To present that precious resident visa to a couple we have collectively worked our butts off for three years to deliver a future in NZ to. It is these complex cases that get me out of bed in the morning and which will likely be the death of me. To deal with the curveballs so many cases throw at us and to hit them out of the ballpark is immensely satisfying. The cases where emotions run high. Lucy’s employer pressured her to take the case off us and to a big law firm when the cancer was diagnosed. She refused. Lucy wanted to stay the course with IMMagine given the faith she had in our team.

They made it. Standing atop the mountain enjoying the view. Exhausted. Relieved. Elated. 

I wish them and their extended family many happy years together.

Until next week

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man


A Good News Bad News Story

Posted by Iain on Oct. 16, 2020, 2:51 p.m. in COVID-19

 

I am not sure if this is the good news or bad news story.

It looks like the government is finally starting to open up the border, inconsistently and somewhat illogically, step by step. Over the last two weeks they have announced that: 

1.       International students - 250 PhD students who were expected to study in New Zealand this year will now all be granted border exemptions to come and complete/start their study, depending on the courses they undertake and if they have support from their education institution in NZ

2.       Those who are offshore holding a work visa will, if they were previously in NZ before the lockdowns took effect, be able to apply to enter NZ with their family. No exemption to crossing the border required.

While that is good news, especially the second point, I am left scratching my head over why those people who hold jobs whilst currently overseas see their family getting priority over reuniting the hundreds of families stuck overseas when one partner is already in New Zealand working. Every week hundreds of border exemption applications, some filed by us, are being declined, for such split families.

While some of IMMagine’s applications are being approved for these exemptions, others have been declined and there is simply no consistency nor rhyme nor reason as to who gets the approval and who gets the decline. It appears to be a complete lottery.

Our team is spending inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to get straight answers out of INZ about those that have and those that haven’t been granted border exemptions to reunify these split families.

What is so frustrating is INZ has always tried to explain away their historically inconsistent decision making by hiding behind the ‘each case on its merits’ line. It’s garbage of course. That is nothing more than a cop out as two cases which are by and large the same should expect the same outcome. But so often that is anything but the case.

Never has this inconsistency been more apparent since we were told by a senior Manager a couple of weeks ago that where one partner was in NZ on a temporary visa and a partner and/or children were stuck on the other side of the border, they intended taking a more humanitarian approach, were dong a ‘wider piece of work’ (if I hear that phrase one more time I’ll scream) and were going to have a team meeting to ‘calibrate’ (seriously that’s this week’s INZ’s favourite and utterly meaningless term).  They were probably going to talk ‘around’ the issues' in the exemption ‘space’.

It transpires that meeting never took place.

Given concerns INZ managers have about the (intellectual) capacity of their own ‘counter level’ staff tasked with making these important decisions a directive was however given to them to escalate requests meeting the bullet point criteria below to a ‘senior experienced immigration officer’ (suggesting there are senior inexperienced officers? God help us) so someone who has been around a bit longer can cast their more ‘experienced’ eye over the 3000 characters which is all you get to state your case.

Six applications later which are all by and large the same, including: 

    One partner in NZ on a work Visa

    Other Partner stuck in the ‘home’ country

    One or more young children stuck in the home country with partner

    Child(ren) not seeing the NZ based parent for at least six months….

 …two were approved, four were declined.

If two were approved isn’t that the benchmark for the others to meet and if they do surely they too must be approved?

Apparently not.

These aren’t complex cases like residence visas. These are on the face of it simple cases with four criteria common to all applications and no differences beyond the names and dates of birth of the applicants. Hardly rocket science. Complex assessments do not need to be made. The only thing that differed in those six cases was the officer making the decision.

When we got copies of the files under the Official Information Act, bearing in mind it is a legal requirement for these decisions and the rationale that goes into them to be recorded, we learned….nothing. None the wiser why some were approved and some were declined.

Who assessed it determined what the outcome was. Pure and simple.

INZ cannot reasonably argue ‘each case on its merits’ was the reason for some being approved and some being declined when in substance they were all virtually identical.

The conclusion is these applications are nothing but a lottery.

This is the best example of the perils of dealing with INZ. They have for years hidden behind the ‘each case on its merits’ mantra rather than face the truth and do something about it. It’s nothing but a smokescreen for their inability to make consistent decisions.

What kind of system is it when who processes your visa is likely the strongest determining factor as to its outcome?

As we have pointed out before INZ has admitted its biggest ‘challenge’ (I’d say handicap) right now, more than ever, is they have so many officers that are still wet behind the ears and have no idea what they are doing.

This is simply not good enough. These decisions impact people lives. The emotional trauma being wrought upon families is, for those of us not trapped in this visa ‘no mans land’, difficult to comprehend. It seems some INZ Managers ‘get it’ but they are powerless it seems to get it through the skulls of the decision makers on the ‘counter’. The only alternative is they don’t care and I cannot believe that.

At some point someone is going to do something desperate born of the despair, frustration and hopelessness they are feeling given their family has been split for months with seemingly no end in sight - not for a few days, not even a few weeks, but for many it has now been over 8 months. Covid is often spoken of as a physical health emergency but to me it is increasingly becoming a mental health emergency and for no one more so than those migrants that the Government has encouraged to come here to be part of its residence programme, people who have brought us their skills, their energy and their commitment to building new lives in New Zealand, for whom ‘going home’ is not an option and who, to a child deserves so much more than this lottery.

We have two clients right now in New Zealand on work visas both of whom are thinking of throwing in the towel because they haven't seen partners and children now since Christmas. How do you make them understand that when another complete family is sitting overseas with one partner who gets a job in New Zealand now going to leapfrog them in the visa process? Are their needs subservient to the family that has never set foot in NZ?

If their employer gave them leave and they flew back to South Africa, we filed new work visas because they no longer need border exemptions, we must assume that they are going to be granted. It’s insane.

On the one hand it's great news that the border restrictions are starting to ease but it's so depressing that the Department seems incapable of prioritising those that can enter in a sensible and consistent way.

Until next week

 

 

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man

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Reading between the lines

Posted by Iain on Sept. 11, 2020, 11:51 a.m. in Immigration New Zealand

Last Friday something very strange happened. 

At the same time as the Government released a press statement about an immigration matter, two lobby groups, unrelated to one another, released press statements applauding the Government for announcing an expansion of the occupations that would be granted border exemptions.

Except that’s not what the Government announced.

It had announced that those with Visitor Visas expiring shortly would automatically be granted five month extensions without fee or application form. The Government claimed no knowledge of any such plans on easing border restrictions for a wider group of occupations other than those ‘critical for the Covid-19 response’ however.

The press releases from Federated Farmers and a school Principals Association were hastily retracted. Embarrassment all round one expects but I’d have liked to have been a fly on the wall in the offices of those two lobby groups because they were clearly expecting an announcement that aligned with their press statements.

What was insightful was these unrelated entities, both lobbying hard for a more sensible approach to allowing managed entry to those whose skills New Zealand desperately needs, particularly Farm Managers and Teachers, were expecting their lobbying prayers to be answered. I suspect the Government denying knowledge of these groups understanding is simply spin, if not a downright lie, when someone higher up the political food chain put a stop to it.  I have little doubt these groups, which have strong Government connections and access, had been told the Government was going to announce something quite different to what they actually did.

With community transmission in Auckland ongoing but seemingly well under control, any news the Government might be thinking of increasing levels of migration, however minor, a few weeks out from this ‘Covid election’ was possibly considered electorally ‘unhelpful’. So it wasn’t announced. I’d wager at the very last minute.

In the meantime, few border exemptions continue to be approved and despite rising unemployment, skills shortages continue to hamper the economic recovery with many sectors outside of farming and education crying out. Letting in those people with specialist or technical skills must surely be considered important by Government. Economic confidence is fragile across New Zealand as it is across many countries right now. While we haven’t (yet) been hit as hard by the coronavirus as many economies we have been hit hard. Denying scarce skills to employers is simply going to further undermine confidence. The pressure has been growing for weeks for the Government to get its border act and exemption policies sorted - we cannot remain closed to the world forever,

I have never understood why Governments fear putting forward the argument that there’s a distinction between allowing entry to those with specialist or technical skills we don’t have enough of and protecting local jobs. These objectives are not in conflict. Right now we certainly don’t need more retail managers but we do need more school teachers. We don’t need more marketing assistants but we do need Farm Managers. We don’t need more middle level managers but we do need, Plumbers, Veterinarians and Engineers.

And New Zealanders should be able to be reunited with their partners stuck offshore when the border abruptly closed back in March to all but a few.

Immigration and more latterly border policy needs to get smart. It isn’t rocket science to establish what the areas of critical skill shortages are but it has always been done piecemeal. The Long Term Skills Shortage List isn’t fit for purpose and never has been an accurate reflection of the extensive skills shortages that have existed here for decades. The public service seems ill equipped or unable to provide the data on what we really are short of (despite issuing tens of thousands of work visas every year that are labour market tested). Coupled with that I suspect is little interest at a political level. Lord only knows why given we keep hearing about a ‘whole of Government’ approach to the crisis brought about by this virus. Skills and labour shortages should play a greater role in border decision making in my view.

Highly skilled migrants only get work visas once the immigration department is satisfied no local should be able to fill the vacancy or be trained to fill it. If the politicians believe the public servants are good at implementing this policy, what is their electoral fear? Is admitting we can’t always precisely predict what our future skills needs might be and tweaking local education and training to ensure we produce enough of our own an admission of failure? I would hope not. The world changes quickly and so too labour markets and skills needs.

Having been waiting for many weeks for the Government to announce an expanded list of occupations that will be eligible for border exemptions reflecting the reality that we still have shortages - like 1500 teacher and 1000 Farm Manager vacancies - it seems last Fridays mis-step was indeed a portend of things to come. Late this week this week an extremely limited number of exemptions for longer term work visa holders who have filed resident visa applications who are stuck offshore will be allowed entry. The criteria to get one of these is so strict I doubt they’ll approve the 850 people they think might be eligible.

In addition partners and dependent children of New Zealanders stuck on the wrong side of the border along with those people granted resident visas but who haven’t been able to activate them will from early October be able to obtain exemptions to enter the country. Twelve month ‘extensions’ are being granted to those with certain visas stuck offshore owing to the pandemic.

Further easing on what defines ‘other critical workers’ who may be eligible for a border exemption have also been announced today.

Sometimes in this game it is about understanding subtle signalling. Reading between the lines proved accurate and last week’s non announcement suggested some announcement on the larger issues highlighted here was never going to be far away. Now we have had the release it is clearly a case of better let than never and it will be relief in particular to the many Kiwis who have not seen partners or children for many months and for a few exasperated employers increasing access to scarce skills.

Things are definitely starting to move in the right direction after months of uncertainty and chaos.

Until next week

 

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man

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Unemployment Close to Historic Low

Posted by Iain on Nov. 23, 2018, 4:33 p.m. in New Zealand Employment

 

During last year's election season when there was much talk from the politicians of toughening up on immigration to New Zealand and ‘cutting’ or ‘slashing’ numbers (depending on who was dispensing the hot air) there was one simple reason I suggested it was never going to happen.

Solid economic growth and job creation at almost unprecedented levels demanded no cut, in fact economics very much pointed to demand led increases in skilled migration levels. New Zealand needed every skilled migrant it could get its hands on.

Alas, economics and politics of course are often not comfortable bedfellows.

Fast forward 12 months and job vacancies are up 9.4% over this time last year across virtually every sector in the economy and every region. The economy continues to fire.

The unemployment rate is currently 3.9% which is among the lowest in the developed world.

Walking through Queenstown last week, it seemed every other retailer, restaurant, pub or action/adventure business had a ‘staff wanted’ sign in their window.

What is even more impressive than 3.9% unemployment is that labour market participation rates are at historic highs. By this I mean, we now have around 70% of all those that fall into working age, working. It hasn’t been higher in recent history. This means everyone who wants to work or can, is.

Even in the United States where much is being made of similarly low unemployment rates, labour market participation rates are only in the low 60%s and have been falling in recent years. This tends to suggest in the US there are many people who have given up on finding work and have simply dropped out of the labour market. The opposite is true in New Zealand.

This doesn’t mean that as a potential immigrant you can expect the precious job you need to gain residence offer over Skype and the employer will wait six months for your arrival.

The no visa/no job but no job no visa ‘chicken and egg ‘situation is still very real. I have noticed this year however that more and more employers appear willing to interview via Skype and to offer positions when they cannot fill them locally, which is increasing. Depressing numbers still won’t engage the migration process, however.

In particular I am seeing more willingness to engage with people not in the country in regards artisans/tradesmen and in particular electricians and mechanics but we are also seeing a lot of construction and engineering related occupations as well - quantity surveyors, construction project managers, carpenters and the like. Teachers continue to be in hot demand and I think over the next year short of any international economic shock we will see more occupations being added to this list.

The rest of our clients coming to NZ to find work are overwhelmingly getting them - it is still around 90% within three months of landing and almost everyone within six.

What continues to confound me is the government has not allowed the pass mark for skilled migrants to fall from the current 160 points. This, despite the fact that the government was around 9000 skilled resident visas short in the year ending June 2018 in terms of filling their own target.

What that clearly indicates is a political sensitivity given those that are currently governing are those that squealed loudest during the election process last year on cutting back immigration.

If they were to now even be seen to allowing more people to enter the country, when all they might do is fill their own quotas/targets, I have no doubt the media would tear them to shreds. If there is one thing the media does not like it is hypocritical politicians.

Overall however, the fact that net migration is falling, any objective assessment makes it clear the government would now be justified in easing that skilled migrant pass mark which would allow more people to qualify for the Job-search Work Visa without needing a job offer first. Right now only a tiny fraction of all skilled migrants can attain 160 points without the offer of skilled employment.

Net migration is falling because of the way a migrant is defined.

A migrant is not somebody coming to New Zealand to settle permanently with a Resident Visa, but rather someone who intends remaining in the country for at least 12 months.

You can therefore add virtually all international students and most work Visa holders to the list of those defined as being ‘immigrants’. Of course, to you and me someone on a temporary visa with no right to remain long-term is not likely to be viewed as an immigrant. Such is the world of statistics that they are. As the government has very successfully pulled the rug out from under the feet of tens of thousands of international students who were promised a pathway to residence of New Zealand if they spent lots of money to complete the first step of the residence journey, they are now leaving in their droves after not being able to secure appropriately skilled employment to get to 160 points. While that is very bad news for them it does give the government room to manoeuvre politically to open things up for the more highly skilled and experienced (our clients).

I cannot however see the government moving away from the current model whereby securing skilled employment will still be the guarantee of a resident Visa. As hard as that makes it on applicants I continue to support that approach as it means New Zealand is only granting residence to those who have demonstrated an ability to break into the labour market.

I often describe the process as being quite Darwinian insofar as the skilled migrant process is all about the survival of the fittest/most employable.

The migration landscape is changing once again and now that the hot air of the election has dissipated and the people that voted for those parties promising migration cuts can see that we don’t have the skills to fill the vacancies being created I can but hope the Government does the right thing and eases the entry points.

I am not however holding my breath.

 

Until next week

Tags: family visa

Transitioning to Primary School - Survey Says We're Doing Well

Posted by Iain on June 15, 2018, 1:55 p.m. in Education

Given most of you migrate to New Zealand for a bit of freedom, lifestyle and education opportunities for your children, a really uplifting and positive report has just been released that shows we are doing an awful lot right when it comes to our children’s early years in school.

Bearing in mind that in New Zealand all children must by law be in school by their sixth birthday, but most start on their fifth, this longitudinal study looked at how the mothers of some 7000 six year olds perceived their child adjusted and coped with the transition from pre-school to primary school.

The study was overwhelmingly positive and here are some highlights:

  • Over 90% of mothers reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the effect their child’s current school was having on their educational, social, emotional and physical needs
  • Over 90% had adjusted and settled into their new school within one month and 72% reported no difficulties or issues in the transition to primary school
  • Around 85% attended their local state (public) Primary School
  • The most common class size was between 20 and 25 children (10% were in classes of fewer than 15 children and 6% were in classes of more than 30).
  • Some 26% had been exposed to what is called a Modern Learning Environment within the school which sees them having access to open and flexible learning spaces and advanced technology
  • Around three quarters live within 5km of their local school yet some 68% are delivered to school by private car, 3% rode a bike to school and 15% walked (pathetic!)
  • Some 88% of mothers were actively involved in some way with their children’s school
  • Around 51% of children get free milk at school and 10% are supplied with breakfast
  • Close to 25% attended after school care (at the school) till their parents could pick them up and 8% were in care before school begins of a morning

The single most important factor in the transition was the teacher. Around 12% of children had at least two teachers in their first year and the report suggests that this needs to be looked at given the relative importance of the teacher in the process of transitioning from a pre-school environment to a primary school and how the children adapt.

Class sizes are growing as more school adopt the Modern Learning Environment. I read an interesting paper on what these are, as they are not viewed as necessarily universally beneficial and as with all things education in this country, everyone has an opinion.

An increasingly mobile workforce saw a surprising 12% of children experiencing a change of school in their first year and close to two-thirds had moved house at least once by the time they were five.

Apparently, the children are going to be surveyed to see if their reality mirrors their mother’s perceptions.

If you are a bit of a nerd (or a teacher) you can read the whole report here. If you’d prefer the highlights you can read them here.

Until next week...

Iain MacLeod, Southern Man


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