Filipino dairy workers given path to residency

Filipino dairy workers in the South Island are relieved they will become eligible for residence under a new visa – despite having initially used false documents to get a work permit.

A visa scam in 2015 involving the dairy workers revealed a problem with some documents which exaggerated experience or qualifications.

That would not be held against those workers still in New Zealand if they met all the other criteria for the new South Island Contribution work visa, said Immigration New Zealand.

A new one-off visa will allow the roughly 4000 South Island temporary migrants to stay.

Standard character requirements would apply for the visa, but Immigration New Zealand said it would waive the good-character requirement if the Filipino dairy workers had done nothing else wrong.

Filipino dairy workers given path to residency

Filipino Dairy Workers Association chair and farm manager Earl Magtibay said some Filipinos on temporary visas had been losing hope of becoming New Zealanders, but this development gave them a new opportunity.

“It’s fair enough that they be given a second chance as long as they’ll be honest in their (next) applications with Immigration.

“Because after all, it’s their hard work and work ethics that brings them to where they are now in the industry,” he said.

Bob Bolanos, who runs a dairy farm in Rangiora, agreed that it was great news as many Filipino workers were worried that every time they had to renew their temporary visa, they would be sent home.

“A lot of them have come to New Zealand in good faith and a lot of them are actually victims of recruiters who have manipulated their paper work to be able to get them here.

“They work hard, they pay their taxes, they’re law abiding. There’s no reason not to give them an opportunity to become part of the community,” he said.

Ben De’Ath, from dairy recruitment agency Cross Country, said it was a pragmatic move by Immigration New Zealand because the sector would be crippled without the Filipino workers.

“The purpose of this South Island Contribution visa scheme is to recognise the contributions of people to isolated parts of New Zealand where it’s near-on impossible to find local staff.

“And granting residence to temporary work visas holders is not going to jeopardise the local labour market,” he said. Source: radionz.co

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Plunge in Kiwis granted permanent residency in Australia

The figures follow rising trans-Tasman tensions over Australian changes to visas, its hike in university fees, and fears New Zealand is a soft backdoor route for migrants.

Official figures show that only 45 New Zealanders were granted permanent residency in Australia in the eight months to February this year, compared with a high of 2500 in the 2012-13 year.

Aussie Malcolm, who was New Zealand’s Immigration Minister under Sir Rob Muldoon, said it was time for the government here to respond.

“I don’t think it’s deliberate, I think it simply arises from the fact that Aussies think that we are not like them. Aussies see New Zealanders as foreigners who have to be controlled, that we’re some sort of a threat.”

Mr Malcolm, who is now an immigration consultant, said New Zealand needed to start treating Australians who stayed here the same way.

“And maybe it’s time that we’ve just gotta say, ‘I’m sorry, if you want to come and live in New Zealand, be treated like the rest of the world’.

“Because this prejudice by Australians against New Zealanders has gone on and on for 20, 25 years – I think it’s time for New Zealand to call it quits.”

Mr Malcolm said the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement was dead because there was no mutual respect.

Plunge in Kiwis granted permanent residency in Australia

Prime Minister Bill English has scotched suggestions of a tit-for-tat exchange, but also said Australia had given no assurance there would not be more policy changes that would affect New Zealanders across the Tasman.

A new pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealanders will kick in on 1 July, but requires permanent residency and a hefty wage.

Some Kiwis seeking citizenship in Australia said there had been contradictory statements from the Australian government about how it would work.

Kent Peters, who lives in Perth and just got citizenship, said his wife Liesl was uncertain if she would be on the one-year fast-track or the new four-year slow-track announced in Canberra recently.

“One of the reasons the numbers has dropped is that it’s an expensive process to do, the cost for the visas themselves is in excess of a few thousand dollars to apply,” Mr Peters said.

A family of four with two children under 18 will pay $A7200 to get permanent residency, then another $A570 total for citizenship.

There has also been a drop in spousal visa numbers, with fees doubling in three years to almost $A7000 per visa.

Perth immigration lawyer Alisdair Putt said uncertainty was prompting many New Zealanders to get in touch with him.

“We’re getting questioned a lot by New Zealand passport holders,” he said.

“So one of the things we’ve done is we’ve published on our blog that it may be worthwhile for people thinking about making citizenship applications … to consider sooner rather than later.

“Because, who knows when the legislative changes will be made and what date they’ll come into effect from.” Source: radionz

When 100 is not enough

ANYBODY taking an exam should be more than happy to get a perfect score – 100 percent.

For New Zealand though, a score of 100 is just the starting point for a foreign skilled worker seeking to qualify for permanent residency.

Getting 100 points is merely a minimum qualifier to get into the common candidate pool. To be taken out of the pool and avoid candidate-hypothermia, one has to add an additional 60 points to earn an invitation to apply for permanent residency.

The current 160-point threshold to be considered for New Zealand permanent residency must be the sum of an applicant’s points for several criteria: age, education, experience, job offer, previous and completed studies or employment and bonus points for combination of two basic criteria.

Of the four Commonwealth nations—Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK —Canada was the first to institute a points-system selection for immigrants with the Immigration Act of 1978, replaced by the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002.

New Zealand Immigration

The common criteria for these countries are age, English proficiency, education/ qualifications, experience, civil status (married or common-law-relationship) bonus points for having studied or worked in the country of intended migration, qualified family relationship or community connections as well as nomination by a province (Canada) or a State/Territory (Australia). Additional points are granted to resident applicants to New Zealand who have worked or lived outside Auckland as well as for qualifications or work experience in areas of absolute skills shortage or future growth area.

New Zealand’s Parliament passed the Immigration Act of 1987—resembling that of Canada—which came into effect in 1991. The 1987 Act ended New Zealand’s preference for migrants from Britain, Europe or Northern America, a selection system based on race instead of admitting migrants based on their skills, personal qualities, and potential contribution to New Zealand economy and society.

While New Zealand was the latecomer, it was the first to use the term “Expression of Interest” under its Skilled Migration category in 2009. Australia followed by setting up SkillSelect on July 1, 2012. Canada, which was a forerunner in setting standards for selection for specific occupations, later announced the Express Entry migrant selection system in January of 2015.

Migrants out of UK with Brexit
While UK’s points-based migration system was introduced in 2003—modeled on the Australian system—it was only in February 2008 that the Labor government introduced the UK’s first points-based immigration system in five tiers, the most common of which are Tier 2 for “skilled workers” from outside the EEA with a job offer in the UK and Tier 4 for students aged over 16 from outside the EEA who wish to study in the UK. Applicants must have a place at a registered UK educational establishment before they can apply.

Of late, this category has diminished in stature and importance. The Tier 4 category became the lightning rod for the campaign against immigrants leading to Brexit as then Home Secretary (now Prime Minister Theresa May) targeted non-EEA students to be part of the categories to be drastically reduced in number.

Migration figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 41,000 fewer overseas students came to the UK in the 12 months to September—three months after the Brexit vote—compared with the previous year, reflecting a substantial drop in net migration to Britain, which fell by 49,000 to 273,000 last year. Read More: manilatimes

 

Auckland primary school students plead for minister to grant visas to grieving shidu parents

New Zealand Visa

A class of 10-year-old primary school students have challenged Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse to change his mind and grant China’s grieving shidu parents lifelong visas to visit their children’s graves.

The year six Bayfield School pupils posted letters to the minister on Tuesday, expressing their anger, frustration and disappointment at his refusal to offer long-term visitor visas to Chinese parents who lost their only child in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake.

In the letters, the 27 students asked the minister to show “mercy”, questioned how he would feel if he lost his only child in a disaster in a foreign country and said they felt “ashamed” over the way the shidu parents had been treated.

“I know your job is hard, having to make a lot of difficult decisions, but on this one you are making a mistake,” 10-year-old Maya Brophy wrote.

Eva Simmonds, 10, said: “I’m ashamed. This isn’t the country that the shidu parents trusted and that we trusted.”

Last month, a Herald investigation uncovered the plight of China’s shidu parents – those who lost the only child they were ever allowed to have in the CTV building, the sole building that completely collapsed in the Christchurch quake due to engineering deficiencies.

New Zealand Immigration

These parents pleaded for the Government to grant them lifelong visas to they could visit and clean their children’s graves every year, as per the annual Chinese tradition of tomb sweeping.

This request was declined by Woodhouse, who said he felt sympathetic for the families but was not considering providing special assistance to them by way of a lifelong visitor visa. A spokeswoman for Woodhouse’s office told the Herald yesterday the minister had “nothing to add to the previous statements he has made in regards to this matter”.

Immigration New Zealand area manager Darren Calder confirmed the law does allow for exceptions to visa policies under compassionate or humanitarian grounds.

Bayfield Primary School teacher James Graham assigned his class to read the Herald story and write to the minister because he thought the exercise would “stir emotion, compassion and empathy” in his students.

He said he was both surprised and impressed at the level of maturity the students had demonstrated in their letters.

“You don’t want writing to sit in kids’ books and be put away at the end of the day. It’s always best if learning can have an end result and our end result is sending these letters. The kids feel really impassioned by that because they know someone will be reading them and that their ideas and opinions will be heard.”

The best result for the students would be receiving a letter back from the minister, Graham said.

“It would really make these kids be aware that even though they are young, they still have a voice,” he said.

Chinese citizens are eligible for long-term entry visas, allowing them to visit New Zealand multiple times over three years. But, speaking through a translator, the shidu parents told the Herald they did not know how to apply for these visas and some did not own a computer and could not afford the application fees.

They wanted to be granted an annual visa exemption to avoid having to undergo the bureaucratic and financial barriers every three years. Read More: nzherald

Immigration NZ stands by decision to deport students

Nine Indian students facing deportation have had ample opportunity to leave the country voluntarily, Immigration New Zealand says.

The students are refusing to leave the country] after an appeal to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse was declined.

They say being deported would ruin their lives, and plan to seek sanctuary at an Auckland church.

Immigration NZ general manager of visa services Steve Stuart said each student’s application to appeal was considered individually on its merits.

New Zealand Immigration

The students’ initial case was centred around their Indian-based education agents submitting fraudulent documents.

Mr Stuart said in all cases the students had declared on their applications that information and evidence supporting their application was genuine, and Immigration NZ stood by the deportation decisions.

He said the individuals had been subject to a fair process, which had included having their appeal considered.

He said there was no timeframe on when they would be forcefully deported but he encouraged them to leave the country voluntarily.

The students have said they will seek sanctuary at an inner-city church in Auckland from Monday until their deportation is dropped or they are forcefully deported.

Deportation Liability Notices or Deportation Orders have been issued to 191 Indian students since May 2016 and 125 have left New Zealand. Source: radionz

Do migrants dilute the New Zealand identity?

Immigration to New Zealand

Migrants do not dilute New Zealand’s cultural identity despite more coming from non-traditional source countries, experts say.

Last year, China was the biggest source country for permanent residents and international students, and India was the largest source for temporary foreign workers.

The New New Zealanders report released this week by the New Zealand initiative said approval ratings for migrants among native-born Kiwis for migrants from India and China, at 6 points, was lower than that of arrivals from the United Kingdom and Australia at 7 points out of a possible 10.

“While many of the concerns New Zealanders have about immigration can be assessed empirically, other concerns strike a deeper chord which evidence cannot prove or disprove – the concern that a large inflow of people from abroad could threaten our national identity,” the report authors said.

The Asian population in the most recent census rose 33 per cent since 2006 and the Middle Eastern, Latin American and African up by 35 per cent.

There are also concerns that New Zealand’s “open door immigration policies” was putting the country at risk of extremism.

New Zealand Immigration

“It would be naive to think New Zealand is immune from terror threats,” the report said.

Security experts had warned that terror events here were almost “inevitable”.

Among New Zealand’s top three source countries for quota refugees are Syria and Afghanistan, two countries ranked in the top five most active terrorist countries by the Global Terrorism Index.

The report authors, however, said the safety risk was linked to how well or poorly a country integrates its migrant populations.

“New Zealand fares well on these terms,” they said.

“Migrants overall do not tend to live in ethnic clusters. Even where ethnicity is concentrated, this is correlated with lower levels of employment.”

Migrants were less likely than native-born New Zealanders to claim a benefit, and their children also achieved higher levels of education.

“These factors indicate New Zealand has the soft factors of migration right for now,” they said.

“When foreigners move here, they generally become part of society, as opposed to an ethnic group distinct from it.”

The report concluded that based on these measures, the risk of the immigration system acting as a pathway for extremists is low.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley said the number of New Zealanders who were anxious about immigrants and current levels of immigration was lower than elsewhere, including Australia.

Spoonley added that New Zealand’s immigration and selection system also targeted skilled and educated immigrants, who were more likely to integrate and settle well after arrival.

David Wong, president of the Chinese New Zealand Oral History Foundation, didn’t think migrants diluted New Zealand’s cultural identity.

“On the contrary, I think it is broadening it and I think migrants are enriching it, and I think it’s good for New Zealand’s national identity,” Wong said.

Data from the New Zealand Election Survey suggested that many New Zealanders did not agree that migrants, if integrated well, would not harm the host culture.

In 2011, 44.4 per cent agreed with the statement “Immigration threatens the uniqueness of our culture and society” and in 2005, 38.4 per cent felt “Immigration is a threat to the New Zealand way of life”.

“Of course, some of this fear is rooted in bigotry, but this does not mean such views should be dismissed, especially when the concern is shared by already marginalised groups such as Maori,” the authors said.

Maori were significantly less favourable towards immigration than other New Zealanders, and more likely to want reduced immigration numbers.

The New Zealand General Social survey found nearly nine in 10, or 87 per cent of migrants felt they belonged to New Zealand.

They also exhibited relatively high mental and physical health and life satisfaction.
But the report identified the exploitation of migrant workers as a concern.

Last year, an Auckland employer, Faroz Ali, was found guilty of 15 human trafficking related charges for bringing Fijian workers here under false pretences.

He employed them illegally and they were made to work long hours for little or no pay.

The lack of official statistics due to the criminal nature of exploitation, however, made gathering data difficult to know how widespread the problem was. Read More: nzherald

NZ tourism, immigration hit fresh records in calendar 2016

New Zealand saw record numbers of tourists and immigrants in 2016, with more migrants coming in on work visas and more holidaymakers than ever before, and economists expect migrant inflows to keep rising.

Annual net migration hit 70,600 in December 2016, with the biggest net migrant gains from China, India, the UK and the Philippines. Migrant arrivals rose 4% to 127,300 in the year, also a new record, while migrant departures dipped 0.5% to 56,700.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which includes tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.5 million in the year ended Dec. 31, up 12% from the year earlier, Statistics NZ said.

New Zealand has imposed tougher criteria for skilled migrants and cracked down on applications for student visas over increased concerns about the level of immigration. At the same time, the government has extolled the benefits of immigration, with a swelling population stoking more activity and record inflows of tourists underpinning an economy growing at a rapid pace. At the same time, a rising population has posed problems for policymakers by fuelling demand for an already-stretched housing market in Auckland, while restraining wage growth.

New Zealand Immigration

Today’s data show the most popular country of origin for permanent and long-term arrivals was Australia, with some 26,000 migrants coming to New Zealand in the year but this was offset by about 24,000 long-term or permanent departures across the Tasman in the course of the year. A net 10,310 migrants arrived from China in 2016, a 16% lift on 2015, while a net 8900 came from India, a drop of 33% on the year earlier. There was a 54% jump in net migration from the UK to 5600.

“The past year has seen a marked lift in arrivals from the UK (up nearly 2000 people on last year’s levels) and China. The increase in arrivals is mainly due to more people coming on work or residency visa, which has offset a decline in the number of international students,” Satish Ranchhod, senior economist at Westpac, said in a note. “Second, the level of departures of New Zealand citizens is currently at very low levels, while the number of New Zealanders returning from offshore has risen steadily.

“These trends are expected to continue to some time, with New Zealand’s positive economic story, including its labour market, making it a very attractive destination. We expect net migration inflows to remain strong for some time,” Mr Ranchhod said.

Of the new migrants who arrived in the year, a net 33,900, or 48%, settled in Auckland, followed by a net 9.6% who moved to Canterbury, net 5.2% going to Wellington and net 3.9% settling in Waikato.

There was a 10% lift in work visas given out in 2016 to 41,600, with that category of visa accounting for the most migrant arrivals in the year, ahead of New Zealand and Australian citizens at 37,700. Student visas dropped 12% to 24,600, while residence visas increased 18% to 16,500.

Today’s data show a 16.2% uplift in the number of visitors holidaying in New Zealand in the year to 1.8 million, with most holidaymakers from Australia, China or the US. On an annual basis, Australians made up 562,000 of the 1.8 million holidaymakers, while China was the second-biggest pool at 311,000.

Business visitors rose 1.4% in December from the same month a year earlier to 17,800, and increased 5.2% on an annual basis to 289,000, about two-thirds of whom came from across the Tasman. Source: nbr

President Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel’s NZ citizenship raises questions

Immigration to New Zealand

The news that billionaire investor and Trump supporter Peter Thiel has acquired New Zealand citizenship has triggered questions in Parliament.

The surprising news of Thiel’s Kiwi citizenship, first broken by the Herald yesterday, has drawn international attention with the New York Times, Mashable and Gizmodo noting the development.

Labour Party immigration spokesman Ian Lees-Galloway said the revelation – that Thiel’s 2015 purchase of a 193 hectare estate on Lake Wanaka didn’t require Overseas Investment Office approval because the buyer was a citizen – raised more questions than it answered.

Lees-Galloway said another wealthy North American import – film director James Cameron – had drawn considerable notice when living in New Zealand, raising questions over why Thiel didn’t attract attention.

“I can’t imagine someone of Thiel’s stature and wealth and not being noticed for five years, it just doesn’t seem very likely,” he said.

This morning Lees-Galloway said he lodged written questions in Parliament with Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Dunne seeking to know when Thiel was granted citizenship, under what grounds and whether the venture capitalist billionaire was a resident for tax purposes.

Immigration to New Zealand

The Herald understands, due to the Parliamentary break, the questions will be required to be answered by February 15.

According to the Department of Internal Affairs website, citizenship requires people to have lived in New Zealand for most of the past five years, or have been born in New Zealand, or have New Zealand parents.

Filings to the Companies Office, requiring directors to provide their residential address, have Thiel only list United States addresses. Thiel is widely reported to have been born in Frankfurt, Germany, to German parents who emigrated to the United States when he was an infant.

An alternate path to the above requires the Minister of Immigration to personally sign off and agree that granting the individual citizenship “would be in the public interest because of exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature”.

Inquiries by the Herald sent to government departments managing the case have yet to result in a substantive response.

The Ministry of Immigration, which handles residency applications – usually a precursor for citizenship – declined to provide any information about the Thiel case.

Immigration New Zealand said that for privacy reasons it could make no comment,” a spokeswoman said.

The Department of Internal Affairs, which deals with citizenship issues, said late this morning they had only just excavated the Thiel folder from storage and were still formulating a response.

Questions sent yesterday to representative of Thiel were answered by Jeremiah Hall of Torch Communications. “I’ll be back in touch if we have any comment,” he said.

No further correspondence has been forthcoming.

Source: nzherald