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  • Writer's pictureDave Ananth


An immigration overhaul is imminent in 2018, going by the recent comments of the Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway. In that regard, there is a need for a clear policy layout that informs all potential migrants, well in advance, about possible fallouts of their endeavours of embarking a journey to migrate to New Zealand. Immigration is always a sensitive topic everywhere around the world. In Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and in most parts of the world this topic is heavily debated.

There are many issues for the newly elected Labour government to look into, as Mr Lees- Galloway says the current immigration system “is a one size fits all’’. Whatever the government intends to do with immigration, the one thing that matters most is that we must have clear guidelines, policy and laws in place. It is important that all stake holders, advisors and most importantly the potential immigrants themselves are able to access information needed to successfully negotiate with the immigration system of New Zealand.

Regardless of whether people come here on visas as varied as the student, skilled worker or investors, the government must have clear policies and guidelines in place about what they can and cannot do while here. For investors, who are required to invest in the range of $3 to $10 million, they will obviously want a bit more clarity and assurance about what their visas allow them to do and what will be their onward journey to permanent migration, if they chose to pursue that path later. 

In other words, they would want clear guidelines before investing in NZ and moving their families and staff here either permanently or on a temporary basis.

There are so many considerations, from schooling, health, religious freedom, and privacy issues to consider before one decides to immigrate.

Auckland is already feeling the heat with a record level of immigrants.

The city infrastructure including roads, schools, hospitals, recreation grounds have to accommodate these massive people moving into Auckland. Not to mention housing and rentals. As the Minister himself said, “It’s not about numbers, but it’s about quality and getting the right people who can adapt and be a part of contributing to NZ economy and social wellbeing.” The Minister also said that migrant exploitation and job skills are areas of priority he will be looking at. Exploitation of undocumented and documented workers happens everywhere – not only in NZ. From my travels, I see NZ has its share of recalcitrant employers, but most are generally well compliant.

Foreign workers are vulnerable because their stay in NZ is dependent on their employers, so there is always a ‘hangman’s noose around their neck’. Some do not get paid for the overtime or weekend work they put in. Some are spoken down to so often depression sets in. Enforcement has its limits; Labour Inspectorate can act on anonymous complaints, even some random checking, but cannot be expected to check all shops and business that employ foreign workers. Whatever the Government comes up with, it is hoped that the process and procedure will be clear and for this to happen relevant stakeholders must be engaged. On the entrepreneur visa, this visa allows one to live in New Zealand permanently if they have established a high growth and innovative business with export potential. At a recent immigration seminar it was disclosed that the success rate for this category is very low and only up to 10 per cent to 20 per cent are successful.

So applicants under this category have to be forewarned that they might have an uphill task for a visa under this category of application.

Either way, the government needs to be more clear and articulate while laying out new policies for immigration.

The current environment of uncertainty is neither helpful for the potential immigrants nor New Zealand. 


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