Auckland, April 19, 2017
A one-off pathway to residence for around 4000 migrant workers in the South Island should be offered to those in the North Island in the same boat.
The deal offered to the South Island families is potentially good for them, but just not fair.
There are families in the North Island who have been here for more than five years and have similarly worked hard, paid taxes and bought up their children.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, in announcing changes to skilled migrant and essential work visa policies, also announced the deal for the South Island workers.
He said that there had been a significant growth in the number of lower-skilled temporary migrants, who help fill genuine labour shortages and have become well-settled in the South Island.
They will be offered a Work to Residence temporary visa, which will make them eligible for residence in two more years provided they stay in the same industry and region.
If the government wants to give low skilled workers on long term work visas a break it would have been fair to give it to all – or not at all.
On changes that Mr Woodhouse announced to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and Essential work visa policies, there was a need to act and the government had listened.
Two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the SMC will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled and at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled, but are well paid
Until now, there have simply been too many international students with low grade qualifications and poorly paid jobs – marginally skilled job offers – moving through the SMC pathway.
The new, essential work visa policy will need careful introduction to make sure that workers and their families already here are given sufficient time to adapt to the new rules – or we can expect some bad outcomes.
David Cooper is a Licensed Immigration Advisor and Manager Operations at Malcolm Pacific Immigration based in Auckland. The above is his response to the changes in immigration policy announced earlier today by Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and posted on the Indian Newslink website (www.indiannewslink.co.nz)