We are not immigration advisers and do not profess to have the experience or qualification to judge the working style of Immigration New Zealand (INZ). But as a responsible newspaper, we voice the concerns of the Indian Diaspora in New Zealand and other parts of the world, notably India.
While INZ officials claim that their process is robust, efficient and effective, there are many potential immigrants, who say that they are frustrated by the delays and unhelpful attitude of the department.
The following is an edited version of the experience narrated by more than ten potential migrants currently facing an uncertain future. The names, dates and places have been changed to protect their identity.
Bharati and her husband visited New Zealand in March 2008 to see the country and consider the opportunities it offered to professionals. She has more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry with impressive credentials, while her husband is a qualified engineer, in a field, listed under the shortage list here.
Returning to her home in Delhi, Bharati filed her application (along with that of her husband and two sons) for Expression of Interest (EOI) for obtaining Permanent Residence (PR) in April 2008.
She received an invitation to apply for PR in June 2009.
“We were asked to attend an interview in December 2010. We were surprised when the official interviewing us said that we may not get PR but a work visa, which may be converted at a later stage (after two years) to residence visa,” she said.
Prakash from Chennai, Unnati from Nagpur, Kishore from Hyderabad and Kamalakar from Bangalore had similar experiences.
All of them have recently received ‘Work to Residence Visa,’ which obliges them to come to New Zealand, obtain a work permit based on a genuine job offer, and then apply for PR.
“We are not upbeat. We understand that it is extremely difficult for new migrants on PR to get a job in New Zealand and therefore almost impossible for us to get a job without a work permit. INZ would not give us a work permit without a job offer. It is Catch 22,” they said.
Bharati said that she would be taking a major risk with her growing children, one of who will get into intermediate school education this year.
“Employers in New Zealand baulk at applicants who are not in the country. In fact job advertisements categorically mention that one has to be living in New Zealand to apply for jobs,” she said.
Unnati described a communication received from INZ as ‘a joke.”
“We would appreciate if you are able to provide INZ with latest information relating to your ability to settle in and contribute to New Zealand, considering that the New Zealand market has been under recession and the unemployment rate is still high.”
Kamalakar received the following communication:
“Please tell us about the research that you may have completed regarding your employment prospects in New Zealand, job search, feedback and responses received,” the letter addressed to him said, demanding a reply within two weeks.
All of them said that they felt a certain hostility.
“”We feel very unwelcome, to say the least. We are still trying to grapple with what exactly we have landed ourselves into after four years of waiting. We had hoped for PR status. We are told that our children would be treated as international students, attracting high tuition fees.”
Bharati said that she was thinking of leaving one of her children in India.
“We had hoped to begin a new life as a family and INZ rules are creating difficult circumstances. We would be an incomplete family in New Zealand,” she said.