Highlights

2017

October

International students stealing our jobs? Immigration bad for the country? Let’s break down the rumours. – Article by Ms. Mehak Singh

Immigration NZ, MBIE use fake social media profiles

September

Clarification on current Skilled Migrant Category points – Skilled Work Experience

Why Immigration is important for New Zealand’s Growth.

Immigration proposes visa processing changes
Numbers Don’t Lie

August
Skilled Migrant Residence Visa – Points calculator announced
Essential Skills Work Visa – Policy changes announced
NZQA Rule changes announced – English language requirements for international students
Immigration Changes: What’s all the hue and cry about? – Article by Ms. Arunima Dhingra

July
Work & Resident Visa Changes – Effective from 28th August 2017
Skilled Migrant category changes – Effective from 28th August 2017

SKILLED MIGRANT CATEGORY CHANGES – EFFECTIVE FROM 28TH AUGUST 2017

June
SELECTION OF EOIs WILL CEASE AFTER 19TH JULY 2017 – Amendments to the Skilled Migrant Category Residence
WD1 work visas – Who’s to say what’s relevant?

April
Skilled Migrant Category changes
Indian students left in limbo
Aims Global Indian market Student visa approval rate is 91%

March
Indian students left in limbo
Aims Global Indian market Student visa approval rate is 91%

February
Why NZ is a paradise on earth
Migrants enrich us as they enrich their own lives
Overcrowded wilderness

January
Teaching the experts
Migrants can and do make a difference
At NZ border
Job vacancy websites for migrants
Statistics NZ: Trends and outlook 2015/16

2016
December
Holidays break
Safety Tips during the Holidays
New Zealand is more popular than ever
Expressions of interest selections over the holiday period
On breaking the bubble: advice to new migrants
New Zealand Residence Programme – Skilled Migrant Category Fortnightly Selection Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Immigration New Zealand Visa Gateway shortlisted for the IXD Awards
NZ Government News: Funds required for NZ migrant investor visa will double
NZ Government News: Joanna Kempkers will be New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to India
INZ News: On 5 December 2016, the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment to be updated

November
Thinking of immigrating to NZ?
Parents Sponsorship increased from 5 to 10 years
International Students Matter
Immigration NZ assess the Indian market
More seasonal workers approved for 2016/17
New Zealand continues to be a favourite destination
What happened to the Indian students from IANZ
Beware of embellished versions of realities in NZ

October
Migrants contribution to the economy of NZ is significant and growing
Parent Category Residence Changes
New Zealand Residence Programme – Skilled Migrant Category Changes

September
A former migrant speaks: Why do I care? About exploited students and other migrants

August
NZ Skills Shortage List should be revamped

 

International students stealing our jobs? Immigration bad for the country? Let’s break down the rumours. – Article by Ms. Mehak Singh

With the future of the country still to be decided, and NZ First’s decision eagerly awaited, lets talk about immigration and what it means for NZ over the next three years. Firstly, as we all know, NZ First has a well-documented and publicised stance on immigration – in short, the best way to fix our country’s unemployment woes is to slash immigration numbers. What has not been explained is the factual basis, if any, for this assumption.

From the research and statistics, the assumption that high volume immigration has a negative impact on wage growth, or that it undercuts the local labour market, has been widely discredited. Research shows that unemployment rates for local populations remain unaffected by variations in immigration numbers.

Migrant workers bring with them a variety of skills that may not exist within the local labour market, and therefore are not taking away jobs from anyone. So the rumours that have been flying around about how cutting immigration numbers will solve all of our unemployment or infrastructure woes is completely false.

Regardless of who forms our new government, immigration will be a priority. Though immigration policy has evolved over the past couple of decades under both National and Labour governments, the major elements mostly remained the same. Other than some sporadic tweaks, the residence points calculator itself has remained largely unchanged until earlier this year. With an election to win, the National government decided to target immigration.

With extensive changes to the points calculator effective since 28 August 2017, the pathway to residence has been significantly altered. It is almost as though migrant workers, and international students in particular, have been demonized by the campaign rhetoric of all the major parties. What the politicians are not recognising is how much NZ needs international students. We are encountering skill shortages in a variety of industries, and we need to attract migrants to fill these shortages. International students are not the enemy but rather an exceptional resource that is not being tapped effectively and efficiently enough.

NZ needs construction workers, dairy and horticulture workers and trades people. Instead we are getting a vast influx of international students to courses in business, healthcare and computing. Skills and demand are encountering a mismatch. If an international student wishes to come to NZ to learn a trade like carpentry, often they cannot gain admission into these courses. If the provider does offer such courses to international students, they are ineligible for a job search visa because trades courses are at a lover level on the NZ qualifications framework. Therefore, without a clear post- qualification pathway, there is no incentive to attract international students to study toward a career in the trades.

Regardless of who is left standing in Parliament after the dust settles, they need to understand that international students need to be incentivised into meeting labour market demand, rather than using the term ‘international students’ as scapegoats in a scaremongering campaign to mislead the public.

NZ is made up of primarily a migrant population, from Pakeha migrants who arrived on our shores from Europe in the 19 th Century, to Asian international students who have come here in recent years for a brighter future. We cannot ignore the fact that we need migrants to make our country flourish and our economy grow. What needs to happen is a recognition of the types of skills we really need, followed by a targeted approach to attracting the right type of migrants with a tailored and streamlined immigration policy. Let us look toward our new government with optimism and expectation to see how it handles this responsibility.

Mehak Singh
Full Licensed Immigration Adviser (#201500252)

Immigration NZ, MBIE use fake social media profiles

Immigration New Zealand and its parent – the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – use false social media profiles for investigations and risk assessment, the ministry has confirmed.
Generally, MBIE staff were not authorised to use pseudonyms or false names in their work, a spokesperson told RNZ.

“However, some ministry staff use false social media personas on social media to support verification, intelligence, and investigation work relating to the exercise of regulatory, compliance, and enforcement functions.

Read More

Clarification on current Skilled Migrant Category points – Skilled Work Experience

Many of you have contacted us asking for clarification on how many points they would get for one-year skilled work experience as per the current SMC calculator. The answer is, unfortunately, none. It is only when you have acquired two years skilled work experience, would you be able to claim the 20 points.
For a complete points breakdown, find the points calculator here.

Immigration proposes visa processing changes

Immigration New Zealand is proposing changes that will see more visa processing done in fewer, strategic locations, and to specialise visa processing by customer sector, i.e. business, education, tourism.

Online visa applications and INZ’s technology provides the opportunity for a new approach to ensure more accurate, timely and consistent visa decision making says INZ General Manager of Visa Service, Steve Stuart.

“INZ is proposing that they would reduce their offshore presence and bring it to five from 17 different location. There will be processing centres in Beijing and Mumbai, with three offices in the Pacific also remaining,” Mr Stuart says.

ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson says INZ is a close partner and will be keeping ENZ informed of its proposed changes and the impact they may have in our key markets.

Read More

Numbers Don’t Lie

In a recent Official Information Act request made to Immigration New Zealand, some interesting information and patterns have emerged from the data.
This information confirms the issue we raised around a rapid and alarming shift in the rates of decline of WD1 visa applications, as well as a significant shift in the amount of time taken to process the applications.
In the period from July 2016 to July 2017, the rate of decline for WD1 work visas had gone up, the length of time spent processing the applications had increased, and the result of both of these factors in conjunction was ex-international students who were rendered unlawful with very limited options for regularising their immigration status.

WD1 Post Study work visa – employer assisted applications

The bulk of Post Study Work Visa – Employer Assisted applications went to one of three INZ branches – Auckland Central, Henderson and Hamiltion. Perhaps the most alarming of our findings from the OIA request shows approval rates for the Auckland Central branch (ACB) dropped from 87.3% in July 2016 to 34.6% in June 2017. The applicants are all graduates of NZ tertiary institutions who have successfully completed their courses of study, been granted their Post Study Work Visa – Open, and have secured an offer of full time employment from a NZ employer.

WD1 Approval rates

Timeliness

What was perhaps even more concerning in the statistics obtained from the OIA request was the notable increase in the amount of time these offices were taking to process WD1 applications. The extrapolated data I present uses a timeframe of 29 working days as standard processing time, and a clear trend of applications taking increasingly longer to process can be seen in the data.
The longer INZ takes to decide on the outcome of an application, the more likely the applicant will be issued an interim visa and in conjunction with the increase in decline rates, be more likely to become unlawful following a decision to decline.
ACB – processing timeliness reduced drastically from 85.30% in July 2016 to average 30.32% between December 2016 to April 2017.

Timeliness
Henderson – processing timeliness reduced substantially from 87.20% July 2016 to 51.10% in January 2017. These statistics demonstrate the link between increased timeframes and applicants becoming unlawful.

Statistics of Section 61 approval rates from July 2016 to July 2017

Overall approval rates for Section 61 requests had dropped from 68% in July 2016 to average 28.85% in June/July 2017. It seems unlikely that the clear link between these factors would be the result of coincidence – increase in decline rates, longer processing times and a massive drop in section 61 approval rates all point to a bigger picture.

Section 61 Approval Rates

When all of this data is viewed collectively, a developing pattern is discernible and in fact quite obvious. When the instructions remain unchanged, why has the number of applicants obtaining a successful outcome from the application process in this category decreased so rapidly? I think these numbers are quite significant, and we as practitioners need to open up a discussion to determine the cause of these alarming trends.

Arunima Dhingra
NZAMI Director

 

Skilled Migrant Residence Visa – Points calculator announced

Changes to the Skilled Migrant Category were announced on 19 April 2017 and will be implemented on 28 August 2017.

The changes to the Skilled Migrant Category include:

– The introduction of remuneration thresholds as an additional means of defining skilled employment:

– Jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 must be paid at or above $23.49 per hour, which equates to a salary of $48,859 per year based on a 40 hour week
– Jobs that are not ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 must be paid at or above $35.24 per hour, which equates to a salary of $73,299 per year based on a 40 hour week.

– The introduction of bonus points for high remuneration at or above $46.98 per hour, which equates to a salary of $97,718 per year based on a 40 hour week.

– More points available for work experience, but points will only be awarded for work experience that is skilled.

– Ten points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more, with no additional points for work experience of two years or more.

– Points for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase to 70 points.

– Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase to 30 points.

– Points will only be awarded for partners’ qualifications if the qualifications are either a Bachelor’s level degree or higher, or a post-graduate (level 9 or 10) qualification.

– Points will no longer be available for: employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas; points for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage or points for close family in New Zealand.

– All applicants who meet the health, character, English and selection point requirements, but do not have either skilled employment or a higher degree gained in New Zealand will be invited to apply for a ‘job search visa’ to enable them to find ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand.

– There will be greater flexibility for offshore applicants to travel to New Zealand within the 12 month validity of their ‘job search visa’.

– The new immigration instructions, effective from 28 August, are published in the Amendment Circular. Some frequently asked questions are set out below.

How is the SMC changing?
The SMC is changing to improve the skill composition of people gaining residence under the Skilled Migrant Category and ensure we attract migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand.

The changes affect many aspects of the policy, including:
– The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
– The points awarded for work experience, qualifications and age.

Some points factors are also being removed:

Points for employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas, as well as points for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage and points for close family in New Zealand.

When will the changes come into effect?
On 28 August 2017.

What requirements are changing under the SMC? How will this affect the points awarded?
The number of points that people can claim for criteria under the SMC has changed. New requirements may also need to be met to gain these points.

Please click at the link below to read more detailed information:
Read More

Please click at the link below for the new SMC points calculator:
Points Calculator

Essential Skills Work Visa – Policy changes announced

Changes to the Essential Skills work visa policy were announced on 27 July 2017, following an extensive round of consultation. These support changes already announced to the residence Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). Changes to SMC and Essential Skills policies will both be implemented on 28 August 2017.

The changes to the Essential Skills work visa category include:

– The introduction of remuneration bands to help assess the skill level of employment offered to Essential Skills visa applicants

– The introduction of a maximum duration of 3 years for Essential Skills workers in lower-skilled employment. After 3 years, lower-skilled workers will need to spend 12 consecutive months outside New Zealand before they can be granted a further Essential Skills visa to undertake lower-skilled work

– Requiring the partners and children of Essential Skills workers in lower-skilled employment to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right

– The introduction of transitional instructions for existing visa holders. These will allow partners and children of Essential Skills workers in lower-skilled employment to remain in New Zealand if they already hold a visa based on their relationship

– The introduction of immigration instructions which allow international students who transition to lower skilled employment to continue to support work and student visa applications for their family, if they were able to support those applications while studying

– The introduction of visa conditions which require that visa holders continue to be paid above the relevant remuneration threshold and that they provide evidence of remuneration payment if requested by an immigration officer.

The new immigration instructions, effective from 28 August, are published in the Amendment Circular. Some frequently asked questions are below.

What are the changes?
The changes apply to all applications made on and after 28 August 2017. There are 3 key changes from the existing Essential Skills policy:

1. Remuneration will be used when determining the skill band of a visa applicant’s employment. The skill band is used to determine the visa length and whether a visa holder’s partner or dependent child can apply for visas on the basis of their relationship.

2. People who have held Essential Skills work visas for 3 years for lower-skilled employment must spend 12 consecutive months outside NZ before they can get a further Essential Skills work visa for lower-skilled employment. The 3 year calculation does not include time spent in New Zealand while holding a visa granted before 28 August 2017.

3. Family members cannot be granted visas based on their relationship to an Essential Skills work visa holder who is undertaking lower-skilled work (note there are special arrangements for those already in New Zealand and family members of students/ex-students).

When do the changes take effect?
The amended immigration instructions come into place on 28 August 2017. The changes do not affect existing Essential Skills visa holders until they apply for their next Essential Skills visa.

How many skill bands are there?
There are 3 skill bands: lower-skilled, mid-skilled, and higher-skilled.

Read More

NZQA Rule changes announced – English language requirements for international students

Internal tests are not acceptable for a student who holds a passport from a country that has had its name and visa decline rate of more than 20% [India’s visa approval rate is 65% i.e. more than 20% decline rate]. Evidence that the student has achieved, within the two years preceding the proposed date of enrolment, one of the internationally recognised proficiency test outcomes specified in the Table for the level of the programme in which the student is enrolling.

The listed outcomes in the Table represent the minimum scores or grades for each test or qualification that qualify a student for enrolment at each programme level. Students with higher scores or grades than required for a particular programme level may still enrol at that level. Where the entry requirements for a programme are for a higher English proficiency outcome than is listed in the relevant row of the Table for the programme level in which the student is being enrolled, the student must meet that higher level [i.e. While enrolling for Level 5 qualification, student must have submitted IELTS score of overall 5.5 with no band less than 5 but before enrolling for Level 6 student will require to provide new IELTS score since the IELTS requirement for Level 6 is overall 6.0 with no band less than 5.5]

As per NZQA
18.1 An institution (other than a university) must:

(a) verify, prior to enrolling an international student in a programme (other than an English language programme) at level 3 or above, that the student has the necessary English language proficiency as demonstrated (except as provided in Rule 18.2) through the use of evidence of one of the kinds described in Rules 18.3 to 18.6; and
(b) retain a copy of that evidence for at least two years from the date of enrolment of the student.

18.2 Evidence of the kinds described in Rules 18.5 and 18.6 must not be used for a student who holds a passport from a country that has had, under Rule 18.7, its name and visa decline rate of more than 20% published for one month or more.

18.3 Evidence that the student has:

(a) achieved NCEA level 3 and has met New Zealand university entrance requirements; or
(b) been awarded a Bachelor Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree with English as the language of instruction, from tertiary education providers from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States; or
(c) been awarded the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA).

18.4 Evidence that the student has achieved, within the two years preceding the proposed date of enrolment, one of the internationally recognised proficiency test outcomes specified in the Table in the Appendix for the level of the programme in which the student is enrolling.

18.5 Evidence of either of the following kinds of previous primary and secondary study in English by the student:

(a) completion of all primary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand primary school years 1 to 8) and at least three years of secondary education (being the equivalent of three years from New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or
(b) completion of at least five years of secondary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction.

18.6 Evidence that the student has achieved an outcome in the institution’s internal English proficiency assessment that is equivalent to or better than the outcomes listed in the Table in the Appendix for the programme level in which the student is enrolling, where:

(a) the institution is a Category 1 or 2 institution;
(b) the internal English proficiency assessment is administered by the institution;
(c) the institution has been granted NZQA’s approval for the internal English proficiency assessment in accordance with Rule 18A; and
(d) the approval referred to in paragraph (c) has been listed on NZQA’s website.

18.7 Immigration New Zealand will measure (based on statistics generated over a period of time set by Immigration New Zealand) the student visa application decline rate of countries, and where the measurement shows that a country’s student visa application decline rate is more than 20%, Immigration New Zealand will publish on its website the name of that country and its student visa application decline rate.

Read More

Immigration Changes: What’s all the hue and cry about?
Article by Ms. Arunima Dhingra

In an election year fraught with scandal, controversy and conjecture, immigration has moved to the forefront of every political debate, and for good reason. As a nation, New Zealand has a reputation around the world as an idyllic location for tourists, as well as the destination of choice for international students and skilled migrants. In recent years, the number of people coming to NZ, for a variety of purpose, has risen steadily. Though this has had multiple positive effects, including boosting the economy, bringing important skills to the NZ workforce and giving industries such as tourism and education a shot in the arm, there have also been some negatives – pressures on infrastructure and roads, house prices being driven up, employment issues and an impact on the public health system.

Much in the news of late are the significant changes being introduced to the Skilled Migrant Category for residence, as well as the Essential Skills category of temporary entry work visas. However I find all the negative publicity around these changes, a bit disturbing. Could the negativity be because of fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge about what exactly is going to happen?

To understand the potential impact and reasoning behind the changes to key immigration policy, it is first essential to learn what exactly the changes entail. Through my own decade and a half of experience in the industry, I have seen immigration go through much change and development. However, the past year has been perhaps the most interesting. Firstly, the government has made significant changes to the Skilled Migrant Category for residence, beginning in October 2016 and culminating in a complete overhaul of the points system to be implemented on 28 August 2017.

For those who are unfamiliar with the changes, here they are:

– SMC applicants must now meet one of two income thresholds for their employment in NZ. This rounds up to $48,859 for skilled occupations, and $73,299 for unskilled but highly paid occupations. These minimum income thresholds ensure skilled migrant workers are earning remuneration that is commensurate with their qualifications and experience, and only those who earn appropriate remuneration are eligible to apply for residence.

Though this is expectedly upsetting a lot of people and rendering some of them ineligible for applying under this category, on the other hand it is opening up gates for so many high earning and high value skilled occupations that earlier did not have enough points for SMC due to factors such as no recognised qualification. To put things in perspective, a fresh graduate with a diploma in business could start working at a dairy as a manager outside Auckland at $40K, and be eligible for residence whereas a Business development manager at $80K with some years of work experience but no formal qualification could not! Clearly the system needed to swing in the right direction, and a change was necessary.

– Bonus points for identified future growth areas and areas of absolute skills shortage will no longer be offered. This change seems to no longer reward skilled migrants for filling important skill needs and shortages, and seems quite problematic. How industries such as ICT, healthcare and construction, for example, get affected by this, only time would tell as we all know that these industries desperately need an injection of skilled workers to take up the jobs available, and removing the bonus points for job offer, experience or qualifications in these specific, recognised fields may subtract from the quality of skilled labour coming into NZ.

– Extra points will now be able to be claimed for applicants aged 30 to 39. In my opinion, this is a positive change. In my wide experience, people in this demographic group are often at their best in terms of their career trajectory. They often have significantly more work and life experience than their younger counterparts. This makes them perhaps the most valuable group of skilled migrants.

– Removal of points for close family in NZ is also on the cards for the SMC following the implementation of the changes at the end of August. For those applying for residence, their potential for successful settlement into NZ is significantly increased and improved if they have a member of their immediate family resident in NZ. Therefore, I do not believe that the removal of this category of points was a warranted change.

– Lastly, there will be changes to points for work experience and some specific post graduate qualifications, as well as an increase in the number of countries considered to have labour markets comparable to NZ. However, exact details of these changes and how they will affect the point’s calculator are yet to be released by INZ. We will need to wait and see what the impact would be.

It is expected that further details around these changes will be announced before or on 28 Aug 2017.

In addition to the SMC changes, there are also a number of changes coming into effect on 28 August, to the Essential Skills work visa category. These include:

– Three bands of remuneration will be introduced under the Essential Skills category. This means that any migrant earning below $41,538 a year will be considered lower skilled and will be subject to the stand down periods explained below. Any migrant earning between $41,538 and $73,299 a year in an occupation classified as ANZSCO Level 1 – 3 will be considered mid-skilled, and those earning over $73,299 a year will automatically be considered higher-skilled, regardless of their occupation.

Those whose occupation is considered low skilled are able to apply for a maximum of three one-year work visas, and once they have completed three years of said visas, a stand down period of 12 months will be imposed. For these 12 months the applicant will need to be outside of NZ and will be unable to apply for another Essential Skills work visa. In addition to this, those who fall into this low skilled category will be ineligible to support partners’ or dependent children’s’ applications. Their partners and children will have to apply for and be eligible for visas in their own right.
I believe that this will cause a lot of turmoil and tension initially and through the transitional period. This, though unfortunate, is ultimately unavoidable. However, I also believe that the government’s long-term vision here may in fact be spot on. Essential Skills work visas are supposed to be temporary in nature especially when there may be no pathways to residence due to low skill levels.

The purpose of the visa category is to bring in migrant workers to fill vacancies that cannot be filled locally. Those who hold these visas are here to work, gain important work experience, and then return to their home country to utilise the work experience gained. According to the government, they are focused on driving home the point that ‘temporary means temporary’. Those coming to NZ for a maximum of three years on this type of visa perhaps should not in fact be uprooting their families to come over with them, only to return to their home country a short time later, and face a struggle to readjust.

However those who will get affected by this change may find this unfair. I agree and only wish there was an interim solution for those already here. But for any government to affect change, there is an unavoidable and inevitable period of upheaval that cannot be overlooked.

– Those who fall into the mid skilled and high skilled categories under Essential Skills will not face any restrictions on supporting partners/dependent children, nor will they incur the stand down period after three years. The rules for these types of applicants will remain largely unchanged.

The purpose and direction of these policy changes is clear – bring in migrants to fill important skill shortages, and only offer a potential pathway to residence to those who are likely to have positive outcomes and settlement. However, though the intention may be positive, and may in fact change the face of immigration in NZ in a positive way in the next five years, the way in which these changes were brought in was problematic to say the least. First the government makes an ambiguous announcement in April, stating in broad and uncertain terms that SMC and Essential Skills would undergo significant change, which would be implemented in mid August. A clarification was promised in June, which never really came about. The roll out date was decided for mid August and then pushed out to the end of August. Even today, with just two weeks to go before the roll out of the new policy, wherein the SMC Expressions of Interest are to reopen on 28 August 2017, there is still no sign of the points calculator.

We as practitioners of immigration law are at a loss as to what to tell our clients when they ask if they are eligible for residence. All we can say to them as that we know as much as they do at this point, and can only give them a clear answer once INZ releases the points calculator. This is a complete flip flop on the part of the government, and has left a bad taste in the mouth for the majority of industry stakeholders with regards to the changes, taking away from what these changes are actually bringing to the country.

Ultimately, we are sure of one thing and one thing only. Immigration is the hot button issue, and the most talked about policy issue of the moment. Through these policy changes, the government seeks to improve outcomes for migrants, as well as build and maintain the NZ brand, boost the economy and maximise productivity for employers across a wide range of industries. Where once there was a clear pathway to residence for international students working in retail, hospitality or ICT following completion of their studies, there is now an uphill struggle. What the government is trying to drive home is that temporary entry means just that – temporary. And opening pathways to highly skilled migrants who may not have the necessary qualifications but do have substantial work experience and are highly paid.

I believe this is a justified shift but whether it will have the desired impact or effect, and whether it will in fact meet all its intended objectives, is something that only time will tell. I am excited about this new chapter in NZ’s immigration system, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for us – both Kiwis and migrants alike.

Arunima Dhingra

 

Work & Resident Visa Changes – Effective from 28th August 2017

The Government has made decisions on proposals announced in April to change the settings for temporary migrant workers under the Essential Skills policy.

The changes will support already announced changes to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) residence policy and strike the right balance between ensuring New Zealanders are at the front of the queue for jobs and preserving access to the temporary migrant labour necessary for New Zealand’s continued economic growth.

THE CHANGES INCLUDE:
– The introduction of remuneration bands to assess the skill level of roles offered to Essential Skills visa applicants
– The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders, after which they will need to spend 12 months outside New Zealand before they can be granted an Essential Skills visa to work in another lower-skilled role, and
– Requiring the partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right (they will still have access to short-term visitor visas).

The changes will be introduced on 28 August this year, at the same time as the changes to the SMC. Detailed information about the application of these policy changes will be available within the next fortnight. That will include how the remuneration threshold will be calculated, implications for family members of workers in lower-skilled roles, and how the stand-down period will be applied. Stay tuned to this page.

Why are we introducing remuneration bands and what will they be?

Remuneration is an excellent proxy for skills and the introduction of remuneration bands will complement the qualifications and occupation framework (ANZSCO). The bands are:-
Higher-skilled – Any Essential Skills visa holder earning above 1.5 times the New Zealand median full-time income (currently $73,299 per year), regardless of their occupation
Mid-skilled – Any Essential Skills visa holder earning above 85 per cent of the New Zealand median full-time income (currently $41,538 per year), in an occupation classified as ANZSCO Level 1-3, and
Lower-skilled – Any Essential Skills visa holder earning below the mid-skilled remuneration threshold.

How many lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders will be affected by the proposals?

Setting the mid-skilled remuneration threshold at 85% of the New Zealand median wage would mean that between 9,700 and 11,800 Essential Skills visa holders at ANZSCO levels 1-3 would be classified as lower-skilled (totalling between 38% and 46% of Essential Skills visa holders at ANZSCO levels 1-3). As at 13 May 2017 there were 11,214 Essential Skills visa holders in occupations at skill levels 4 and 5. While a small number may earn above the higher-skilled threshold we expect the majority to remain lower-skilled under the new definition.

How will employers be able to source the labour they need under the proposals?

Immigration policy is premised on a New Zealanders first approach and employers are required to ensure they are doing all they can to train and employ New Zealanders. However, these changes are not designed to reduce the number of migrants coming in on temporary work visas. Where there are genuine skills shortages, employers will still be able to recruit temporary migrant workers, as long as they can demonstrate there are not New Zealanders available to do the job.

Why has three years been chosen as the maximum duration for lower-skilled Essential Skills work visas?

A maximum duration of three years provides a balance between giving lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders the opportunity to transition to a higher skilled Essential Skills visa or obtain residence, while also ensuring that migrants with no pathway to residence do not become well-settled in New Zealand.  It also provides employers with time to recruit new staff or upskill existing staff to fill the role.

How will the decision to limit lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to a maximum initial three-year period affect people already here?

The change will not be applied retrospectively for lower-skilled Essential Skills workers already in New Zealand.  The three year maximum duration will start from the date their next lower-skilled Essential Skills visa is granted after the introduction of the changes to the Essential Skills policy.

Why are you restricting the ability of partners and children of lower-skilled migrant workers to come here?

The changes are designed to ensure that lower-skilled migrants are clear about their future prospects in New Zealand. Lower skilled Essential Skills workers will take up employment in New Zealand with a full understanding that they will only be able to bring their family to New Zealand as a short-term visitor, unless they meet visa requirements in their own right. Removing eligibility for open work visas for partners of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders will potentially provide more opportunities for local workers to take on those roles. While some lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders could be discouraged from coming to New Zealand it is not expected to reduce the numbers of principal Essential Skills applicants.

Will the change affect families already here?

Families of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders already in New Zealand will be able to remain here for the duration that the Essential Skills visa holder remains legally in New Zealand.

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Skilled Migrant category changes – Effective from 28th August 2017

Two remuneration thresholds are being introduced for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). One will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set 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.

The automatic selection mark for applicants under the SMC was increased from 140 points to 160 in October last year and the Government has now realigned the points system to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.

More points will be available for skilled work experience and some recognised post graduate qualifications, and points for age will increase for applicants aged 30-39.

Points will no longer be available for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage, for employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas and for close family in New Zealand.

The changes will be implemented on 28 August 2017.

How is the SMC changing?

Amendments are being made to the Skilled Migrant Category to improve the skill composition and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand. The changes affect many aspects of the policy, including changes to:
– The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
– The points awarded for qualifications and age.
– Points for some factors will be removed.

When will you know the details of the points allocation?

The Cabinet papers relating to the policy announcements have now been proactively released so the proposed values are accessible.

When will the changes come into effect?

On 28 August 2017.

Are the changes designed to allow fewer people to be granted residence under the SMC?

While there will be an impact on some people in low paid employment, the changes expand the definition of skilled employment to allow some people to obtain residence who have previously been unable to claim points for their employment in New Zealand – people who are not currently considered to be in skilled employment because their job is not in an Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupation will be able to claim points for their job if they are earning $73,299 or more per year.

Will particular types of applicants benefit from the changes?

The changes put more focus on skilled work experience, more recognition of skill levels in the 30-39 age group and high salary levels.

What are the specific changes in each policy area?

Skilled employment
– The same number of points will be awarded for both an offer of skilled employment and current skilled employment in New Zealand.
– Remuneration thresholds are being introduced as an additional means of defining skilled employment.
– Applicants with jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 will only be awarded points for their employment if they are paid at or above NZ$48,859 per year (or NZ$23.49 per hour).
– Applicants with jobs that are not in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupations may be assessed as being in skilled employment if they are paid at or above NZ$73,299 per year (or NZ$35.24 per hour).
– Bonus points will be awarded for remuneration at or above NZ$97,718.00 per year (or NZ$46.98 per hour)
– Remuneration thresholds will be updated annually based on New Zealand income data.

Work experience
– More points will be available for work experience.
– Points will be awarded for skilled work experience in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 and 3 occupations.
– Points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more. There will be no additional points for work experience of two years or more.

Qualifications, age and partner’s qualifications
– Points available for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase.
– Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase.
– Partner’s qualifications will only be awarded points if they are a recognised Bachelor’s level degree or higher or a recognised post-graduate (level 9 or higher) qualification.

Which factors will applicants no longer be able to gain points for?

Points for the following factors will be removed:
– qualifications in an area of absolute skills shortage
– skilled employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas
– close family support in New Zealand

Are there any changes to the health, character or English language requirements?

No there are no changes to these aspects of the SMC instructions.

Why is the SMC changing?

The Government is committed to ensuring our immigration settings best support the economy and the labour market. These changes are designed to improve the skill composition of the SMC and ensure that it prioritises higher-paid and higher-skilled migrants.

Is there any way to comment or provide feedback on the SMC changes?

No. The proposals were already consulted on in 2016 and the changes will happen on 28 August 2017.

Will the selection point change when the new SMC comes into effect?

The selection point is able to be adjusted by the Minister of Immigration as necessary for the overall planning range of the New Zealand Residence Programme, so the selection point may change from time to time. There is no information at the present time concerning where the selection point will be set when the adjusted Skilled Migrant Category is implemented.

Will the salary thresholds change?

The salary thresholds are based on information from New Zealand income data and will be reviewed annually.

Will there be a regional variation to the remuneration thresholds?

No there is no regional variation.

Will the new policies affect the way that student visas are assessed?

The changes apply to the SMC residence policy, not student visa instructions.

Do the changes to SMC affect the post study work visas available to graduates?

No. There are no changes to post study work visas (graduate job search or employer assisted) as a result of these SMC announcements.

It was announced that graduates of level 9 and 10 qualifications will be able to claim more points under the SMC for those qualifications. Does this mean that there will be fewer points for qualifications under level 9?

No. There are no point reductions for qualifications below level 9.

There are students who commenced their studies under the impression that they would meet the points threshold and be able to apply for SMC. What happens to current students who are worried that they won’t meet SMC requirements because of the recent changes?

While we understand that changes to immigration policies can cause confusion and uncertainty for students, they will need to meet the SMC requirements that apply at the time they lodge their application. People whose EoIs are selected from the SMC Pool before the change to the policy will be able to apply under the current rules if their selection results in an invitation to apply.

I have already submitted my SMC application but it has not yet been finalised.  What will happen to my application if it is not decided until after the changes come into effect?

Because your application was submitted before the changes come into effect it will continue to be assessed under the current instructions.

My SMC Expression of Interest (EoI) has been selected from the SMC Pool but I have not yet been invited to apply: if I obtain an invitation to apply before the changes come into effect but do not submit my SMC residence application until after the changes come into effect, can I be assessed under the current SMC instructions?

If your Invitation to Apply was issued on the basis of a selection from the SMC Pool before the policy change your application will be assessed under the SMC instructions that were in place at the time your EoI was selected, regardless of whether you application is submitted after the changes come into effect.  The application must be received within the standard four month limit.

If my EoI is selected from the SMC Pool before the changes come into effect but is then returned to the Pool, what will happen to my EoI?

If your EoI has been selected from the Pool but is returned to the Pool because it does not meet the requirements for an Invitation to Apply, you will be able to edit and resubmit your EoI on the new EoI form, at no cost.  The new form will reflect the new requirements. However if, as a result of the changes, you are no longer able to claim 100 points, your EoI will not be accepted into the Pool.

When will more detailed information be available about the changes to the SMC?

We hope to have more information available in early August 2017.

Read More

SELECTION OF EOI’s WILL CEASE AFTER 19TH JULY 2017 – Amendments to the Skilled Migrant Category Residence

Skilled Migration Category residence instructions have been amended to include the last date of selection from the current Skilled Migrant Category pool, which will be 19 July 2017. EOIs that have total points of 160 or more are selected automatically from the Pool. Selections of EOIs will cease after 19 July 2017.
More news to come shortly, stay tuned to this page.
Read More

 

WD1 work visas – Who’s to say what’s relevant?

Once again, I find myself faced with somewhat of an anomaly in my immigration advice practice. International students from all over to world come to New Zealand for exposure to a superior education experience, as well as to pursue brighter career prospects upon completion of their qualification. Immigration New Zealand recognises that academic knowledge in isolation is not enough to produce well-rounded professionals. In order to hone acquired skills and get real world context to the things a student learns in the classroom, it is important to gain valuable work experience. Because of this, New Zealand offers international students the opportunity to apply for graduate work experience visas, first for the purpose of finding a job and then for the purpose of gaining relevant experience so that they may eventually gain a pathway to residence in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand’s immigration instructions for the Post Study – Employer Assisted work visa category (WD1) – state that for the grant of a visa under this category, the offer of employment must meet two key criteria:

– Be relevant to the main subject area of the qualification
– Be a key factor in the employer’s decision to offer the applicant the role

Seems fairly self-explanatory doesn’t it? We would think so, but this visa category has caused endless confusion, misinterpretation and ambiguity amongst migrants, advisers and numerous other stakeholders within the immigration industry and this has been particularly prevalent in recent months.

In the last couple of months, we have come across countless work visa applications under this category that Immigration New Zealand officers have raised concerns around ‘relevance’ between qualification gained and employment. We have submitted numerous such applications with successful outcomes for many years now. However, in the past few months we have noted a shift in the way assessment of ‘relevance’ is done. A Level 7 Business graduate with a job offer as an Assistant Manager in any retail or hospitality setting is facing an uphill battle to get assessing immigration officers to recognise relevance between their qualification and employment.

I believe that the recent VisaPak on WD1 instructions that came out a few months ago, plays a big role here. In the VisaPak, there are three examples of qualifications and job offers, categorised as relevant, maybe relevant and not relevant. The ‘maybe relevant’ example makes mention of assistant managers and supervisors with management qualifications. The ‘clearly relevant’ example points to a junior bookkeeper who has studied a diploma in accounting.

It appears that to err on the side of caution, officers are making the assumption that most business graduates with mid management roles, do not meet the relevance requirement.

The other concern that assessing officers have with WD1 applications is whether or not the qualification was a key factor in the employer’s decision to recruit the applicant. I believe there may be a flaw in the way this is being discerned in multiple dozens of PPI / decline letters we have seen recently. An employer supplementary form is the only area where an employer can state entry requirements for the role. So the question is around how assessment of whether a qualification was a key factor in an employer’s decision to recruit an applicant or not, is done.

Again, the factors outlined in the VisaPak are perhaps the issue here. It outlines various methods that can be undertaken for this assessment and I believe this approach is very narrow. I will be covering a detailed analysis of this in my presentation at the next NZAMI seminar in Auckland on 9 June.

Obviously not all job descriptions match academic transcripts down to the letter, but that doesn’t mean the qualification isn’t the primary reason for the applicant being recruited. In fact on the contrary, a job description that very closely matches with the applicant’s transcript should perhaps be questioned for authenticity and genuineness. An advertisement cannot be so skewed as to match academic transcripts paper by paper. In fact where in the instructions does it state that the qualification and job must match paper by paper.

The main requirement for this visa is that the key responsibilities utilise skills acquired in the main subject area of the qualification. An IT graduate uses a wide range of IT skills in his day to day tasks as a fibre technician, but he did not learn to be a fibre technician specifically in the course. The whole point of this visa is to provide applicants with a pathway to skilled employment, not place them directly into that skilled employment.

I believe there needs to be some close scrutiny of the WD1 instructions and assessment procedure to determine why there is such an inconsistency and ambiguity in the decision making process. Have any of you come across these issues in your practice? I invite other practitioners share their experience on this instruction to open up a discussion on this topic and get some varied views and perspectives.

Arunima Dhingra

 

Skilled Migrant Category changes

Two remuneration thresholds are being introduced for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). One will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set 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.

The automatic selection mark for applicants under the SMC was increased from 140 points to 160 in October last year and the Government has now realigned the points system to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.

More points will be available for skilled work experience and some recognised post graduate qualifications, and points for age will increase for applicants aged 30-39.

Points will no longer be available for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage, for employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas and for close family in New Zealand.

The changes will be implemented on 28 August 2017.

 

How is the SMC changing?

Amendments are being made to the Skilled Migrant Category to improve the skill composition and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand. The changes affect many aspects of the policy, including changes to:
– The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
– The points awarded for qualifications and age.
– Points for some factors will be removed.

When will you know the details of the points allocation?

The Cabinet papers relating to the policy announcements have now been proactively released so the proposed values are accessible.

When will the changes come into effect?

On 28 August 2017.

Are the changes designed to allow fewer people to be granted residence under the SMC?

While there will be an impact on some people in low paid employment, the changes expand the definition of skilled employment to allow some people to obtain residence who have previously been unable to claim points for their employment in New Zealand – people who are not currently considered to be in skilled employment because their job is not in an Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupation will be able to claim points for their job if they are earning $73,299 or more per year.

Will particular types of applicants benefit from the changes?

The changes put more focus on skilled work experience, more recognition of skill levels in the 30-39 age group and high salary levels.

What are the specific changes in each policy area?

Skilled employment
– The same number of points will be awarded for both an offer of skilled employment and current skilled employment in New Zealand.
– Remuneration thresholds are being introduced as an additional means of defining skilled employment.
– Applicants with jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 will only be awarded points for their employment if they are paid at or above NZ$48,859 per year (or NZ$23.49 per hour).
– Applicants with jobs that are not in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupations may be assessed as being in skilled employment if they are paid at or above NZ$73,299 per year (or NZ$35.24 per hour).
– Bonus points will be awarded for remuneration at or above NZ$97,718.00 per year (or NZ$46.98 per hour)
– Remuneration thresholds will be updated annually based on New Zealand income data.

Work experience
– More points will be available for work experience.
– Points will be awarded for skilled work experience in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 and 3 occupations.
– Points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more. There will be no additional points for work experience of two years or more.

Qualifications, age and partner’s qualifications
– Points available for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase.
– Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase.
– Partner’s qualifications will only be awarded points if they are a recognised Bachelor’s level degree or higher or a recognised post-graduate (level 9 or higher) qualification.

Which factors will applicants no longer be able to gain points for?

Points for the following factors will be removed:
– qualifications in an area of absolute skills shortage
– skilled employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas
– close family support in New Zealand

Are there any changes to the health, character or English language requirements?

No there are no changes to these aspects of the SMC instructions.

Why is the SMC changing?

The Government is committed to ensuring our immigration settings best support the economy and the labour market. These changes are designed to improve the skill composition of the SMC and ensure that it prioritises higher-paid and higher-skilled migrants.

Is there any way to comment or provide feedback on the SMC changes?

No. The proposals were already consulted on in 2016 and the changes will happen on 28 August 2017.

Will the selection point change when the new SMC comes into effect?

The selection point is able to be adjusted by the Minister of Immigration as necessary for the overall planning range of the New Zealand Residence Programme, so the selection point may change from time to time. There is no information at the present time concerning where the selection point will be set when the adjusted Skilled Migrant Category is implemented.

Will the salary thresholds change?

The salary thresholds are based on information from New Zealand income data and will be reviewed annually.

Will there be a regional variation to the remuneration thresholds?

No there is no regional variation.

Will the new policies affect the way that student visas are assessed?

The changes apply to the SMC residence policy, not student visa instructions.

Do the changes to SMC affect the post study work visas available to graduates?

No. There are no changes to post study work visas (graduate job search or employer assisted) as a result of these SMC announcements.

It was announced that graduates of level 9 and 10 qualifications will be able to claim more points under the SMC for those qualifications. Does this mean that there will be fewer points for qualifications under level 9?

No. There are no point reductions for qualifications below level 9.

There are students who commenced their studies under the impression that they would meet the points threshold and be able to apply for SMC. What happens to current students who are worried that they won’t meet SMC requirements because of the recent changes?

While we understand that changes to immigration policies can cause confusion and uncertainty for students, they will need to meet the SMC requirements that apply at the time they lodge their application. People whose EoIs are selected from the SMC Pool before the change to the policy will be able to apply under the current rules if their selection results in an invitation to apply.

I have already submitted my SMC application but it has not yet been finalised.  What will happen to my application if it is not decided until after the changes come into effect?

Because your application was submitted before the changes come into effect it will continue to be assessed under the current instructions.

My SMC Expression of Interest (EoI) has been selected from the SMC Pool but I have not yet been invited to apply: if I obtain an invitation to apply before the changes come into effect but do not submit my SMC residence application until after the changes come into effect, can I be assessed under the current SMC instructions?

If your Invitation to Apply was issued on the basis of a selection from the SMC Pool before the policy change your application will be assessed under the SMC instructions that were in place at the time your EoI was selected, regardless of whether you application is submitted after the changes come into effect.  The application must be received within the standard four month limit.

If my EoI is selected from the SMC Pool before the changes come into effect but is then returned to the Pool, what will happen to my EoI?

If your EoI has been selected from the Pool but is returned to the Pool because it does not meet the requirements for an Invitation to Apply, you will be able to edit and resubmit your EoI on the new EoI form, at no cost.  The new form will reflect the new requirements. However if, as a result of the changes, you are no longer able to claim 100 points, your EoI will not be accepted into the Pool.

When will more detailed information be available about the changes to the SMC?

We hope to have more information available in early August 2017.

Read More

Clarity on Student Funds Issue

As many of you may remember, in the NZAMI eNews dated 17 March 2017 I had presented the matter of Immigration New Zealand declining second year student visa applications on the grounds of allegedly misappropriated maintenance funds during the term of their previous student visas. Officers were interpreting the requirement of $15000 per year or $1250 per month as meaning that a student visa holder must maintain a minimum balance of $1250 per month in their accounts at all times, and that the funds should be onshore. Also that the funds shown with their offshore application, must be transferred to New Zealand once they are onshore.

We came across a number of student visa applications that were declined on such grounds, and I raised this matter with higher officials after receiving ambiguous responses initially. We have since received some important clarification from senior management on this issue, which I believe to be nothing less than ground breaking.

To update you all, I have since received feedback from the Operations Manager at the Palmerston North branch. This has been extremely informative and helpful in providing clarity on the issue and providing a fair outcome to our clients. Two key points were communicated, in contradiction to what was previously being implemented:

There is no specific requirement that states that a student must maintain a minimum balance of $1250 in their account at all times while in New Zealand.

Instructions do not state that a student must transfer all, or even some of the funds evidenced in original offshore student visa application to New Zealand. They must only have the means to access those funds.

This very important statement sheds some much-needed light on a prominent grey area highlighted recently in student visa instructions. I believe that this will lead to an improvement in the interpretation of immigration instructions and therefore improve the quality of service provided by the Palmerston North branch.

Immigration is a very dynamic industry and the interpretation of immigration instructions should also be reviewed and adapted to keep up with the everchanging demands of the industry.

I am of the opinion that Immigration New Zealand has a very important and difficult task on their hands especially in the student sector where so much fraud has come to light. However it is of utmost importance that the officers maintain a fair and genuine stance on their interpretation of instructions so it does not catch innocent and genuine students off guard and severely disadvantage them. There is always room for improvement and growth, and I am pleased that student visa application processing has been given a closer look in this instance. Students should not have to suffer declined applications because they have been caught out by a requirement that is not actually explicitly stated, and is in fact a result of incorrect interpretation.

I am keen to know what other practitioners think about the way student visa applications are processed onshore and offshore, and whether the way each branch handles them should be more streamlined so that students are made aware of what is required of them in the future, at the outset before they come onshore.

Arunima Dhingra

Aims Global Indian market Student visa approval rate is 91%

This report captures Immigration New Zealand India market student visa approval data (%) and application volume range for immigration adviser companies whose owners and/or staff represent applicants in their capacity as offshore exempt advisers (OEA) and/or licenced immigration advisers (LIA).

For inclusion in the report a minimum of ten applications must have been lodged in the period by the adviser companies.

a) The data represents decisions made by the Mumbai Area Office for the period: 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016.
b) Total approval rate for this group is 48%.
Read more

 

Indian students left in limbo

Multiple dozens of second year visas have been denied when Indian students applied to go from one level to higher in their education in New Zealand. Their papers and attendance seemed to be in order. What was wrong, then?

The decline letters sing a common song – these students have been found to have not maintained sufficient funds during the currency of their last student visa.

Is it the students’ fault this time? Let’s see: It is a requirement of the off-shore New Zealand Immigration office in Mumbai to show documents that confirm an amount of NZD 15,000 maintenance money for anyone who wishes to apply for a one year student visa. This means NZD 1,250/month for twelve months. However, no rule says that this amount of NZD 15,000 be taken by the students with them when they come to New Zealand unless they have been approved under the FTS (Funds Transfer Scheme). So, students may choose to take only a fraction of it when they come over. Or part of it, depending on their situation. Most students would take a sensible fraction amount, and then either gain a part time job in New Zealand to meet their living costs while here, or get the required amount transferred from their family overseas.

So, these students have shown the money, they get the visa, then they come to New Zealand. They get part-time jobs (maximum 20 hours/week during semester time), while studying to complete their first year of study. Many students don’t use all of the $15,000/ year (or $1,250 / month) because they have part-time jobs, so at the end of the year they may have substantial balance from this FTS amount. For those who did not come here on FTS, they never maintained a minimum balance in their account and may have some left over savings. They finish level 5 and want to move on to level 6. By the end of the first year, they have good attendance for their studies, they have paid their fees, and all their papers seem in order.

However, when they apply for a further visa on-shore, it is denied. Any guesses why?

We have been inundated with requests from such students. Initially, we were almost as puzzled by the visa rejection as they were since their papers seemed in order. But we soon realised what the problem was. On-shore INZ seem to expect students to maintain a minimum balance of $1,250 per month in their account during the entire duration of their latest student visa – whether on FTS or not.

After seeking further clarification, we were advised by INZ officials at Palmerston office that ‘maintaining’ for them equates to keeping a minimum balance of $1,250 per month throughout the duration of their student visa. So for an entire month, they expect the student to keep this money frozen in their account and only use it for the next month. We were shocked! When did this interpretation change? In my 13 years of being in this industry, this is the first time I have heard of this expectation. My concern is not so much about this flawed and unreasonable expectation, however, it is about the administrative process followed by INZ around applying this. If this is the expectation, then why can INZ not put this clearly in the approval letters given with their offshore application.

The students had never been advised of this so called ‘requirement’ ie that they must maintain $1,250 / month in their account – by the offshore branch approving their visa nor by anyone else after arriving in New Zealand. So wouldn’t fairness and natural justice command that these naïve students get the benefit of doubt for not knowing – why can’t INZ give students a warning on this rather with their visa approval rather than decline straight out leaving them stranded in the middle of their course?

To summarise these are the key issues we have identified here:

a) INZ onshore has only fairly recently started enforcing this condition/requirement
b) Mumbai isn’t advising student visa holders of this expectation when granting the visa
c) LIAs, education agents and lawyers aren’t advising their clients either because we generally weren’t aware of INZ taking this attitude
d) And INZ cannot be persuaded to make ETI decisions where the circumstances warrant this (for example a diligent student half way through degree course, fully compliant with limits on work rights and clearly sufficient funding available – even if not maintained in New Zealand).

This issue is spreading like an epidemic and we have submitted CCRP requests on a couple and are awaiting responses.

 

Why NZ is a paradise on earth

NZ is well sought after not only by people who want a better life here economically, but also by people who, having tons of money, want a quiet, pristine piece of paradise.
“It is an ancient landscape imbued with a natural sense of drama, where the stars blaze bright every night and the nearest town has no traffic lights. At 18,000kms from London and 23 hours by plane from New York, you are reliably at the end of the world – but also an eight-minute drive from a supermarket that stocks duck confit and chilled Veuve Cliquot,” according to the Guardian.
Read more

Migrants enrich us as they enrich their own lives

Perceptive migrants understand that they integrate into NZ culture by following its laws, learning the language, and giving something to the community of their adoptive country.
Read more

Overcrowded wilderness

In a crowded and increasingly urbanised world, NZ offers wilderness and tranquillity, and the opportunity to connect with the natural environment. About 4 overseas visitors are expected to visit NZ this year. “Outgoing chief executive of Tourism New Zealand Kevin Bowler told an audience in Queenstown in October that at the present growth rate, the number would reach almost seven million by 2023 – much higher than the official projection of 4.5 million by 2022.”
Read more

NZAMI

TEACHING THE EXPERTS

Arunima has been recently invited to talk to a gathering of immigration and education professionals where she emphasized the need for professionalism in dealing with International Student issues. An interesting position that one of the speakers held was that some of the problems that Indian Students face come from the commission that unlicensed Student Advisers get from Training Providers. People should be paid professional fess for their services, and be held accountable for their advice. The concerns that Arunima’s presentation rose included how to
– safeguard naive students from the predatory behaviors of some of the Student Agents
– provide individual immigration counseling to these students rather than one approach for all
– make sure that all students who come to NZ have reasonable levels of English.

More about international students in NZ, speaking English, and honesty in self-representation for NZ visa.

How to look after International students in NZ. English language requirements removal – a blessing or a curse?

 

Migrants can and do make a difference

I have always been an advocate for considering New Zealand not only as a bi-cultural country, where both Māori and Kiwi cultures are valued, but also as a multicultural country that acknowledges, respects, and embraces all cultures that contribute to its make-up. Many of us love our hāngi, or our international food, from curries and dumplings to tacos, from sushi to gelatos, but we often forget to say a silent prayer of thanks to the people who have brought them to our country.
It’s not only food that migrants contribute to NZ culture. The input of migrants extends from sports to cultural events, and from education to social work. All of us would have come across examples such as
• the teacher who set up an environmentalist group and a magazine that have converted kids to green warriors,
• the mother who started a surrogate grandparents scheme, or
• the Chinese doctor who teaches writing classes to migrant women.
The input of migrants extends even to predominantly Kiwi areas such as politics.
A migrant’s story
I’ve been living in NZ for ten years and have made quite a few friends. Some are from my husband’s country, some from my own, some are Kiwis. Ethnicity is never a criterion for making friends, but human quality is. One of my Kiwi friends emailed me in December:
‘My family and I are travelling down to Greymouth, to support the Pike River families. We saw them on the TV the other day and they looked as if they could use some support. They have been trying to have their voice heard for six years now. They are now picketing the entry to the mine to stop Solid Energy sealing it off for ever. They think the mine is a crime scene and should be investigated.’
An old NZ story
I remembered the tragedy. 29 people died after the mining disaster of 19 November 2010. One of them was a 16 years old boy, on his first day at work. For six years, their families have been requesting Solid Energy and the NZ Government, who owns the company, to return the bodies of their loved ones to them. (While still a PM, John Key had promised this would happen.) But neither Solid Energy nor the Government have relented: it is risky to enter the mine they said. However, the Pike River families have heard from independent experts who say that it is safe to enter the area known as the drift, where they believe many of the men may lie.
The plight of the families struck a chord. My father had passed away recently at the antipodes, in Romania. I considered myself blessed to have been able to be there when it happened. The fact that I got to say good bye meant a lot. But the Pike River families didn’t get to say their goodbyes. Last rites are part of any tradition. Other than creating cultures, traditions define us as humans.
Helping the Pike River families to be heard
I thought that these families needed to have their voices heard, so I started an online petition. In two days there were 500+ signatures. My friend suggested presenting the petition to the Parliament. I contacted the West Coast MP, Damien O’Connor. He agreed to present it, but the petition had to bear an original signature. I was in Auckland, and catching a plane to Wellington on the same day seemed impossible. Dame Fiona Kidman, who has been touched by the plight of the Pike River families, kindly agreed to submit a petition herself that would be backed by the online one. Parliament officers chipped in to support. Dame Fiona and her husband Ian Kidman, 85, raced against the clock to draft the petition, print it, and submit it before the 1pm deadline on the day before the Parliament closed for the year. It was also the day when representatives of the families travelled to Wellington to meet the new PM Bill English and the Labour leader Andrew Little. The PM refused to meet them, but the petition was presented to the House of Representatives.
Making history
A few days later I got a telephone call from a journalist:
‘Congratulations! You’ve made history! Due to your petition, Dame Fiona Kidman has now been invited to make a submission before the Commercial Select Committee, after the Parliament resumes in February.’
He passed the phone to Dame Fiona.
‘The Pike River families will be able to go home now and have their Christmas,’ she said.
I was in tears. Other than a Christmas celebration with friends, it was going to be a lonely festive season, with only our son, my husband and I. We miss our extended family the most at Christmas. But it felt as if we weren’t alone any more.
A few days later our Kiwi friends in the Bay of Plenty invited us over. They felt like the family we couldn’t be with.

This is just a story among many. Do you know stories of migrants who are making a difference? Share them with us.

At NZ border

Year at the Border annual report reveals interesting facts about the work of Immigration New Zealand’s Border Operations team. During the 2015/16 financial year:
* 5.9 million passengers arrived in New Zealand, an increase of 9 per cent on the previous year
* 2,930 people were prevented from boarding a flight to New Zealand
* 1,371 people were refused entry on arrival in New Zealand.
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Job vacancy websites for migrants

Accent Health Recruitment
A recruitment agency helping health professionals find work in New Zealand.
Seasonaljobs.co.nz
Search for seasonal job vacancies across the country, in many industries.
Seasonalwork.co.nz
A job vacancy site listing a range of short-term work across New Zealand, mainly in hospitality, agriculture and horticulture.
Working in New Zealand
Find information on employers and recruitment agencies relevant to the occupation and industry you want to work in.
New Kiwis
A site that links New Zealand employers with skilled migrants who are eligible to work, and currently live or intend to live, in New Zealand.
Workhere New Zealand
A company that connects skilled migrants and expat Kiwis from around the world to New Zealand-based companies with jobs in demand.
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Statistics NZ: Trends and outlook 2015/16

One in five international students gained residence
International students have become an important source of skilled migrants for New Zealand and other OECD countries. By 30 June 2016, 19 per cent of students had transitioned to residence five years after their first student visa. In 2015/16, 45 per cent of skilled principal migrants were former international students.
Net migration continues to grow
A net migration gain of 69,100 people occurred in 2015/16, the highest net gain ever recorded, and an increase of 19 per cent from the 58,300 recorded in 2014/15. This was due to a low net migration loss of New Zealand citizens (3,100 people) combined with a large net gain of non–New Zealand citizens (72,200 people), the highest recorded.
International student numbers on the increase again
A total of 91,261 international students were approved to study in New Zealand, an increase of 8 per cent from 2014/15, the third year-on-year increase. China has remained the largest source country of international students (28 per cent) followed by India (22 per cent) and South Korea (5 per cent). After a sharp rise in the numbers from India in 2014/15 (up 42 per cent on 2013/14), only a small increase (3 per cent) occurred in 2015/16.
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December 2016

Holidays break

Please be advised that the Aims Global, Auckland office will be closed during the Christmas and New Years break from 24th December 2016 to 4th January 2017. We will resume work on the Thursday 5th January 2017.
For any urgent queries during this period, please contact our Licensed Immigration Adviser Hamneet Jaggi on 0223446472 or Tanvi Pande on 0220002467.
We would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Safety Tips during the Holidays

People tend to be less vigilant during holidays, and that’s exactly why accidents happen.
We have compiled a few tips that will hopefully keep you safe:
– Always supervise children around water
– Never leave your child unsupervised in the car after you have left the car
– If your child cannot swim and they wish to paddle in water, keep them within reach and make sure they wear swimming aids (swim float bands or swim rings)
– Always wear sunhats and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen.
More tips:
* Before travelling, note the Civil Defence Centres in the area you are holidaying
* When you arrive at your destination do a reconnaissance. Look at exits, procedures and evacuation areas
* In the event of a tsunami warning, evacuate up a building (Level 3 or higher), or to higher ground. Have your car parked facing outwards
* Have the petrol in the tank at least 1/2 full, so if you need to travel you are all ready to go
* Keep shoes and clothes close to the bed. Plus a torch for a quick evacuation. And a small radio on batteries in your bag.
* Check access into and out of hotels (count the paces from your door to the exit)
* Arrange a meeting place away from the building/area you are staying in
* Keep your phone charged and on you
* It is easier to link to family by ringing from outside the area affected so set up a plan as part of readiness
* Make up car kits with warm clothes, water, food, torch, walking shoes, medication and backpacks.
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New Zealand is more popular than ever

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The number of people who arrived in the country for a long-term stay is greater by 70,400 than the number of people who left the country in the year to November. This beats the previous annual record of 70,300 set a month earlier.
Permanent and long-term migration was dominated by arrivals from Asia (about half of the 70,400 arrivals). Some 10,280 migrants came from China, up 17 percent from a year earlier, while 9,100 came from India, down 31 percent.

‘But the tourism bug wasn’t just inbound,’ says NZ Newswire. ‘Kiwis heading abroad also set new records, with 2.58 million overseas trips made in the year to the end of November, up 8 per cent on the year earlier. This included a record 208,400 New Zealand residents taking an international trip in November, up 14 per cent on the same month last year.’
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Expressions of interest selections over the holiday period

During the upcoming holiday period, the Expression of Interest selections will be delayed until later in January 2017.
The Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest (EOI) final draw for 2016 will take place on Wednesday 21st December. The first draw in 2017 will take place on Wednesday the 18 January 2017.
The Investor 2 Expression of Interest (EOI) final draw for 2016 will take place on Thursday 22 December. The first draw in 2017 will take place on Thursday the 19 January.
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On breaking the bubble: advice to new migrants

Many students or other migrants who come to NZ live in a sort of bubble. They meet with people from their own country, they seek employment with them, they are sometimes cheated or exploited by them (remember the Masala incident?). They stick with what they perceive as being the more familiar: people from their home country or from the same geographical area.
Having come so far from home, this is an understandable reaction: everyone seeks reassurance and safety in the familiar.

However, over ten years of experience have shown us that, if they want to be successful in a new place, migrants should be doing the exact opposite. Here are some reasons why:
• Job and business: Mix and mingle with people from different backgrounds. Opportunities come from unexpected places: If you mix and mingle with people from different backgrounds, job and business opportunities might open up. What you miss the most in a new place, other than the emotional comfort that your family and friends offer, is a network of contacts. Any business person knows that friends are as important as acquaintances in extending your network.
• Language. Many of our clients speak English very fluently, but some don’t. Rather understandably, those whose English is worse are less inclined to interact with people whose mother tongue is different from theirs. So they practice English less than they should. This is a huge mistake. One of the main questions Immigration Officers ask you when you apply for PR is: have you got any friends outside the people from your home country? Have you got any Kiwi friends? This is a measure of migrants’ ability to integrate in the country, and assimilate some of its ways. Moreover, migrants’ employability will improve as their English improves.
• Habits: Migrants need to learn to imitate some of the locals’ habits. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Nobody’s asking anyone to binge drink or walk barefoot (I know, touché, isn’t it?), but there are some cultural aspects that are worth acquiring. These are but a few:
– Being on time. If you are going to be late or cannot make it to an appointment, even if it’s an informal one, you need to call/ email the other person and let them know. Make sure that your message reaches them. Check that it does. Explain your reasons and fix another appointment.
– Not talking over your interlocutor. Wait until they finish what they have to say, then you can add your reaction. It is considered impolite to talk over people.
– Keeping your word. If you promise to do something, your word should be as binding as a contract. Or close to a contract. People will respect you if you keep your word. Talk to them and explain if you cannot. Communication is vital in NZ. Nobody can read your mind or guess what your difficulties are, but if you explain, they usually understand.
I cannot empathise enough: any migrant should focus on assimilating the local language. You cannot pretend that you never left home. You cannot live in an English-speaking country and not be fluent in English.

There are other small things that migrants can notice if they pay attention. Small customs and cultural protocols are part of a vocabulary that migrants need to acquire if they want to integrate. You are not a chameleon if you do, but an intelligent and flexible person who knows their own interest.
Share customs from back home with your interlocutors. Kiwis and migrants from other places are curious to listen to stories. These could help them in their job or travels, and they know it, so they’ll be keen to learn.

In your turn, learn as much as you can about the stories and histories of the place. (The Te Ara website has quite a few stories about NZ and its people). Knowing some of the Kiwi background stories (The Treaty of Waitangi, Māori Wars etc) can help you integrate easier and faster; they’ll provide topics for conversation, and show that you are willing to learn and assimilate. Kiwis will appreciate this.

There are many reasons why international students tend to stick by their conationals: most students prefer to live in the city and close to their schools, while the locals live in the suburbs, from where they commute to their workplaces. But it’s beneficial to attend events such as exhibition or book launches, seminars, cultural or political events. Interact with people at the event. Afterwards, pursue such connections within the first 48 hours: email or text them, arrange to meet them for a coffee or at another event.

Remember: stories build bridges. So listen to people’s stories and tell your own life story. Many people will feel more inclined to help you if they know you. I know the story of an Indian MSc who landed his first job in his field because he was chatty and talked to people from different countries. His English was not perfect, but he was brave and friendly, and the more he spoke the more he learned.

The Korean or Japanese lady next door can be just the contact you need. Break the bubble and talk to people who don’t speak your mother tongue. You’ll be glad that you did.
You’ll become a successful migrant, and you will prove to INZ that you can integrate, get a good job, and contribute to life and culture in NZ.

The Beehive – where many crucial decisions are made

The Beehive
Wellington’s most iconic building is The Beehive – the site of New Zealand’s parliament. It was designed by British architect Sir Basil Spence and built between 1964 and 1979. Its distinctive shape made it the city’s most love-it-or-hate-it piece of architecture.
Next door is the more classical building of Parliament House, built in 1907 in Neoclassical Edwardian style and home to The Chamber, where parliamentary debates are held. Further to the North (right as you face the Parliament) is the Parliament Library (1899), built in the Gothic revival style.
Free tours of the parliament buildings are held daily between 10 am and 4 pm. These tours trace New Zealand’s parliamentary history as well as visit the most important government rooms. The gardens around the buildings are open to the public.
Address: Molesworth Street, Wellington

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New Zealand Residence Programme – Skilled Migrant Category Fortnightly Selection Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest selection took place at approximately 1.00pm NZ time on Wednesday 7 December, 2016.
The following EOIs were selected:
Selection criteria No. of EOIs
All EOIs with a points total of 160 or more. 369 (712 registrants)
The next selection will take place on 21 December
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Immigration New Zealand Visa Gateway shortlisted for the IXD Awards

Immigration New Zealand Visa Gateway project has been selected as a finalist in the IXD Awards – in the Optimising category.
The 6 categories are:
> Optimising: Making daily activities more efficient
> Connecting: Facilitating communication between people and communities
> Engaging: Capturing attention, creating delight and delivering meaning
> Empowering: Enabling people to go beyond their limits
> Expressing: Encouraging self expression and/or creativity
> Disrupting: Re-imagining completely an existing product or service by creating new behaviors, usages or markets.
The Immigration New Zealand project will be featured in the 2017 finalists gallery and will remain a permanent part of IxDA’s Interaction Awards online archive – The Digital Yearbook.
Based in New York, the annual Interaction Awards (IXD Awards) celebrate design thought leadership and innovation around the globe. Award recipients will showcase how interaction design impacts and improves human lives.
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NZ Government News: Funds required for NZ migrant investor visa will double

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says changes to the migrant investor policy will encourage investments that provide greater economic benefits for New Zealand. The changes include:
– Doubling the funds Investor 2 migrants must invest to $3 million
– Removing the need for Investor 2 migrants to hold $1 million in settlement funds
– Recognising higher levels of business experience and English language skills through changes in the points system
– Increasing the annual cap of approved Investor 2 migrants from 300 to 400.
– Rewarding investment in growth-oriented investment with incentives such as bonus points, priority processing, and a financial discount.
“Many investors tend to move into growth focused investments as they become more familiar with the New Zealand environment. These changes will encourage them to do so earlier in the process while incentivising investments that deliver greater economic benefits for New Zealand,” Mr Woodhouse says. The changes will come into effect in May 2017.
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NZ Government News: Joanna Kempkers will be New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to India

Foreign Minister Murray McCully today named diplomat Joanna Kempkers as New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to India. Ms Kempkers will be based in New Delhi and cross-accredited to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
“As members of the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand and India have a close relationship,” Mr McCully says.
“India is our second largest source of skilled migrants and international students.
“Two-way goods and services trade exceeds $2 billion, and the Government has high expectations for the further development of India as a key economic and political partner for New Zealand.
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INZ News: On 5 December 2016, the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment to be updated

It is recommended that people in the following situations check the updated lists as the changes might impact whether they can claim points for their qualifications without an individual assessment from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority:
those intending to complete an Expression of Interest under Skilled Migrant Category instructions
those who have already submitted an Expression of Interest
those who have been invited to apply for residence.
People affected should apply to NZQA to have their qualifications assessed. They should also update their Expressions of Interest accordingly, or contact the Immigration Contact Centre if they have any concerns.
The updated lists effective from 5 December 2016 are included in Amendment Circular 2016-08.
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November 2016

Thinking of immigrating to NZ?

Go to the migrant skills Points Indicator on the Immigration NZ website, and check your score.
You need to get a score of 160 or more to apply for NZ PR.
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Parents Sponsorship increased from 5 to 10 years

Amidst concerns that migrants’ parents cost the tax payers too much, Immigration NZ has decided to double the time when parents need to be sponsored by their children. Around 5500 parents of migrants settle in New Zealand every year, of whom about 50% are Chinese and 20% Indian. See page 5 of Parent Category Guide INZ 1207.

A few years after you become a NZ PR, you can invite your parents to come and live in NZ. However, the Parent Category is being temporarily closed to new applications. It will take INZ until after the end of the 2017/18 financial year for to clear all the applications already in the system.
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International Students Matter

In an article about South Auckland students in a decile 1 school (from challenging socio-economic neighbourhoods), the director said: “These students don’t need our sympathy. They need our professionalism.” This comes to my mind every day when I walk into the office and there are a few students waiting for me, despair writ large on their faces. This has become the norm recently.

These are students who have spent tens of thousands of dollars to come and study in NZ. Now their Institute has closed, their English is not great, so they’ll have to go back home. A can of warms opened when the Government decided that IELTS scores are not necessary for international students to come and study in NZ. It became open season for Private Training Establishments (PTEs) and student agents.

About a year ago, international students, some of whom with very little English, started coming to NZ in droves, lured by agents’ false promises: “you’ll get a job in no time, and then you can apply for permanent residency. Don’t worry about the English test – it will be arranged.”

THE REALITY CHECK
Well, you can get a part-time job in NZ while you are on a student visa. Then you can, indeed, apply for PR. IF your English is good enough and IF you can find a job in your field, especially if your position is on the shortage skills list. Students usually get a one year study visa, with which they can work 20 hours/week during semester time. This is followed by one year job search visa, if the students’ attendance is good, and they fulfill all the other conditions. This gives them one year to find a full-time job in their area of expertise.

But I know of people, even PRs and citizens, who could find a job in their field only years after they had completed their degrees. Especially if they lived in smaller places like Dunedin or Tauranga. So one year is really quite a short time.

NZ is a wonderful place to live in, but nothing is handed to anyone on a platter. Migrants need to be fluent in English, be socially aware and culturally adaptable. They need to mingle with the locals, make Kiwi friends, learn their ways, rather than stick to their enclave of Indian connections. Their English would improve in no time, and so will their employability.

But this is something that no or few PTEs or agents will ever tell them. Student Agents capitalise on triumphalist success stories, many of which are untrue, to make more money for themselves and sometimes ruin these students’ lives.

PROFESSIONALISM AND CUSTOMER CARE
The lack of professionalism shown by many Student Agents and some Private Training Establishments is surprising. Perhaps the moral and professional standards are different for some Student Agents from India (and perhaps elsewhere, as well), who do not have any moral qualms to cash in the commissions from Private Training Establishments in NZ while providing questionable services.

But PTEs in NZ should know better: they should check their Student Agents and assess their professionalism. If possible, they should see if Student Agents enlist students through false claims, check if the documents they supply to INZ are genuine. PTEs should make sure that the students’ level of English is acceptable, rather that contribute themselves to the charade started by Student Agents, through faking English test results.

International students are our guest here in New Zealand. They are our customers. In a country like NZ, there are rules about customer protection. Businesses shouldn’t simply abuse customers because they can. Lied to, despoiled of tens of thousands of NZ dollars, Indian students’ treatment by some PTEs is simply appalling. After the Student Agents, PTEs profit the most from the students’ desire to study here (with international students’ fees upwards of 20,000/year), so they should show some interest in their wellbeing.

The whole country profits when new consumers join the market, and international students are sophisticated consumers. Government agencies should acknowledge this and make sure that international students receive the fair treatment that they deserve.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
There’s a serious communication gap between NZQA and NZI. The INZ policy is to consider any visa application that looks genuine, not to question the bona fide of education providers. NZI will only know that something is wrong with a Training Establishment when the provider in question is closed due to corruption or lack of adequate training standards. Unfortunately, this is way too far in the game and scores of students would have had their visas approved by then. They would have committed to two years’ study in NZ, often after taking huge loans that will bury their families deep in debt for the rest of their lives. NZQA needs to start sharing with INZ their suspicions about dodgy PTEs as early as possible. Perhaps from the first complaints they receive from students.

WHAT CAN THE STUDENTS DO?
Of course, it’s students’ responsibility to do as much research as possible. They need to talk to people from different backgrounds, and with representatives of more than one agencies, not just with their Student Agents.

Then, students should choose a Licensed Adviser, even if this costs some money. This is money well-spent. Licensed Advisers offer professional advice and, often, ongoing support. Tell any prospective international student you know, and ask them to tell their friends and relatives to:

· Use a Licensed Adviser

· Contact INZ directly, if worried about something that the adviser cannot clarify for you. Ask questions. If something seems suspect, chances are that it is.

· Research in the social media and elsewhere, read news stories about other students. And if you hear stories about dodgy student agents or PTEs, check them out, ask around, share your doubts with your friends. If something appears too good to be true, it often is.

· Check your facts. Contact the education provider. Gauge how professional they are. Are they just after your money, or they wish to help you further your studies in NZ?

At Aims Global, we fight tooth and nail for our clients. We advocate for them with INZ. We even lodge appeals against INZ decisions, if we think that the students are right and INZ is wrong. And we often win. If a case can be won at all, we will win it.

But I’m heart broken when I have to tell students:

“I’ve talked to INZ and have advocated on your behalf. Unfortunately, the best solution for you at the moment is to go home, study English really hard for a year, then re-apply for a NZ visa.”

Of course they are not happy to hear this. I’ve been tormented over whether I have failed them. But I cannot fix in a few days what Student Agents and PTE have spoiled in months by giving these students false hopes, and telling them they can function in NZ even when their English is substandard.

WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER
However, we also need to understand that we cannot only take (fees, tax, money spent in services and consumer goods) without giving anything back. When these international students are hurt and disappointed in their expectations, the image of NZ is hurt. Indirectly, each inhabitant of NZ is hurt.

The recent USA elections have shown clearly that we are all connected, sometimes in unexpected ways. A vote in America can send the Asian market tumbling down.

We need to look after the wellbeing of these students who are in our care. As if they were our own. As immigration specialists and citizens of this wonderful country, we need to do our best to make migrants’ experience in NZ as smooth and positive as possible. Even if this means that we expose and shame those who take advantage of migrants, from exploitative employers who pay students wages below the minimum national wage to fraudulent Student Agents or Private Training Establishments.

We cannot play with these students’ lives. We need to establish pathways of communication between the various agencies concerned, so that students who have sacrificed so much to be here are not in for a shock when their PTE is closed.

I’m also hoping that students will develop a more professional approach to their own career by doing their research thoroughly, taking ownership of their studies, and learning to be more cautious. They need to stop putting their lives in the hands of unlicensed Student Advisers and dodgy PTEs.

These are very difficult times for these students, and for anyone who hears their stories and has a heart. But I’m sure that something good will come out of it. Perhaps we’ll learn to work together so that these students, who come here lured by dreams of freedom and opportunities, are fairly and humanely treated.

Immigration NZ assess the Indian market

The India market has a young, ambitious population who are becoming increasingly affluent and mobile. This has led to significant growth in the number of Indian nationals seeking to study internationally. All student visa applications from Indian applicants, in addition to applicants from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan are assessed at the Mumbai Area Office.

Approval rates for nationalities in the Indian region from January to end of July 2016 (map shows the 2015 calendar year):
Indian nationals: 44.2%
Sri Lankan nationals: 63.6%
Nepalese nationals: 44.7%
Bangladesh nationals: 22.2%
Bhutan nationals: 33.3%

Why such low percentages? Because of fraudulent documents included in the application.
Use a licensed adviser, and be very careful when you lodge an application.

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More seasonal workers approved for 2016/17

A thousand more seasonal workers will be let into New Zealand, after the Government sought assurances that job opportunities for Kiwis would “continue to be maximised”. The cap on foreigners who can work seasonally in horticulture and viticulture will increase from 9500 to 10,500 for the 2016/17 season. Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the horticulture and viticulture industries had estimated they needed an additional 2500 workers for the upcoming season. Read about recognised seasonal employer limited visa.
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New Zealand continues to be a favourite destination

The country’s annual net gain of migrants registered a record high in October, at 70,300. The previous record was of 70,000, set in September, according to Statistics NZ. Annual migrant arrivals were 126,100, which is another annual record that surpasses the “record 125,600 set in the September year,” says Edwin Mitson, business reporter for Scoop.

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What happened to the Indian students from IANZ?

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Students from the International Academy of New Zealand (IANZ) have been in the news after their college folded amidst accusations of corruption and malpractice. I am one of the advisers who has been working extensively with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) for a few of the Indian students from IANZ, and I can say that some of the media stories are only half correct.

The English of some of these students is extremely low, in the sense that they would score only about 3 in an IELTS test. This is the reason why they have been offered by INZ the option of going back to India, to study and improve their English until it reaches acceptable levels. Any other option given here in NZ would not help them achieve this…

Once they pass their test and get the required IELTS level, these students can come back and pick up their studies from where they have left them. I have written confirmation of this from INZ, on condition that the students still meet all the other visa requirements. Moreover, Aims Global is hoping to negotiate discounted rates with education providers, so that these students can get a good deal.

But the prospect of going back and having to study hard to improve their English is obviously not appealing to these students. Unfortunately, most of these low-level quality students seem to be looking for shortcuts, hoping for miracles that would safeguard their dream of living in NZ.

Again the Student Agents are the all-around winners: IANZ has closed, the students have to find another provider if their English is good enough, or return home if it is not, but nobody can trace the Agents down. They have disappeared, and have, most likely, reemerged somewhere else, with a new brand, while the students due to whom they got plump commissions are still suffering. Student Agents should have noticed these students’ low level of English and they should have notified the Training Provider, rather than arrange for hired people to take the English interview with INZ over the phone.

It’s important to know the whole story. It’s not that INZ has poor standards that let people who do not meet the necessary requirements come to the country, but if these students’ English does not allow them to function in NZ, then it is logical that they should improve it. They have showed already that a few months in NZ would not do the trick. They’ve been here for more than a year.

If they stayed in NZ for another six months, these students would most likely work most of the time to survive, while paying little attention to their studies. They’ll also look for ways to cut corners, in which case they may put in visa applications that may result in deportation.

If they are to reach the necessary IELTS score of 6, they will need to take intensive English classes and concentrate on studying. This is more likely to happen back in India, where they have the support of their families. However, when talking to most of these students, they acknowledge that achieving an IELTS score of 6 is a far-fetched goal for them, and are looking for alternatives.

What INZ has offered them, after hours of negotiation and appeals to their empathy, was the only legal and feasible pathway, along with the possibility of a future in NZ.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss the matter further, feel free to contact me.

Arunima Dhingra

Read more of Arunima’s LinkedIn posts here.

Beware of embellished versions of realities in NZ

Speakers at an International Student Forum at Auckland University of Technology blew the whistle on the problems they face: labour exploitation, high living costs, poor quality education and minimal access to residency visas.

University of Auckland international students’ representative Yilong Chang said foreign students were forced to work long hours in low paid jobs, on top of their full-time study, in order to meet basic costs.

“The immigration website for applying [for a] student visa [says] it requires $15,000 for living expenses for each year, and if we divide it up to each week it will be $280 per week, which is impossible living in Auckland at the moment – unless you work.”
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Immigration New Zealand (INZ) continues crackdown on forged bank documents from Indian students
Radio NZ cautions: Since May, INZ has been warning private training schools and polytechs every time an Indian education agent submits a fraudulent application.
However, the total number of cases of fraud has grown from 75 cases involving 60 agents in April, to 640 cases and almost 300 agents by mid-August, since INZ’s clampdown began.
Student Agents are inventing new types of fraud, now that fake bank documents are being curtailed, such as using “rent-an-uncle loans” in which students pretended their finances came from family members.

30 new Indian education agents are popping up every month – though their applications were immediately put in a ‘not trusted’ basket.
Four out of five of these new agents’ visa applications are being rejected.
A quarter of those agents are not actually new, but are companies that have rebranded themselves to try to get a clean sheet.
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Some Americans look to Canada, NZ as Trump surges to victory
Canada’s main immigration website remained down on Wednesday and New Zealand reported increased traffic to its website for residency visas from U.S. nationals as Donald Trump surged to victory in the U.S. presidential election.
A spokeswoman for Canada’s immigration department said the website crashed “as a result of a significant increase in the volume of traffic” as election results rolled in Tuesday night.
In New Zealand, immigration officials said the New Zealand Now website, which deals with residency and student visas, had received 1,593 registrations from United States citizens since Nov. 1 – more than 50 percent of a typical month’s registrations in just seven days.
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Visa changes for South African nationals

INZ update: All South African visitors to New Zealand will require visitor visas from the 21 November this year.
These changes are being made as a result of an increase in the number of South African nationals who have been refused entry at the New Zealand border in comparison to other visa waiver countries.

Currently, people from South Africa do not need to apply for a visitor visa before travelling to New Zealand, with genuine visitors being granted a visitor visa on arrival. As a result of the change all visitors from South Africa will need to obtain a visa before travelling to New Zealand.
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Permanent and long-term international migration to Rotorua is at its highest level in more than 25 years
Almost 1,000 people have settled in the North Island town of Rotorua since September 2015. This is the highest gain of inhabitants in more than 25 years, about 55% increase since last year.
Multicultural Council Rotorua president Waitsu Wu is overjoyed and believes that migration benefits “Rotorua and the country and its economy by creating more job opportunities, more tourist infrastructure and enriching the community through cultural diversity.”

While most migrants previously settled in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington, the housing crisis has determined more migrants to consider the smaller cities. “Since last year, Rotorua has seen a significant percentage of old migrants moving here from Auckland and also many new migrants settling directly into Rotorua,” said Ms Wu.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick agrees on the positive aspect of this new wave of migration to the region and thinks that the population growth is great for the district: “People from other parts of the world also bring greater diversity to our population and that’s also valuable. They bring cultural diversity and new and different skills, ideas, perspectives and thinking.
“Citizenship ceremonies are one of my favourite duties as a mayor.
“When you hear people’s stories and see how grateful they are to be here it makes us reflect on what a wonderful place New Zealand is and how privileged we are to live here in Rotorua, a place they’ve chosen to be their new home because they love it.
“It’s nice to be reminded of just how special this place is and reflect on the positive,” she said.

Ms Ranson said the regions had been suffering with vacant jobs and migrants were able to fill them.
“These migrants are actually providing a benefit to the economy by paying their taxes.”
Rotorua is a picturesque town set on its namesake lake on New Zealand’s North Island. It is famous for its geothermal activity and Māori culture. There are bubbling mud pools, forest walks and activities, and a 30m-tall geyser that erupts many times daily. It’s also home to a living Māori village and the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, with traditional wood carving and weaving schools.
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Immigration regulations are tightening
Fewer residence approvals will be granted over the next couple of years, while the number of points required for residents will be raised to 160, instead of 140 points needed under the previous skilled migrant category, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has announced recently.

This will encourage highly skilled and educated migrants, but might prevent people with experience but fewer degrees from settling in the country. This may also pose a problem in view of the shortage of labour work force, needed especially for reconstructing Christchurch after the devastating earthquake of 2011.

Such decisions are heavily loaded politically before the 2017 elections, as there seem to be strong currents of opinion in favour of restricting immigration. These are due mainly to the small increases in wages in the past few years, and the heated property market (few houses for sale, numerous buyers, ever rising prices). The present right wing government cannot ignore such currents of opinion if they are not to lose electors before next year’s election campaign.

For NZ citizenship, there is talk of extending the number of years one is required to be in the country from 5 to 7, as well as adding a general knowledge test to the criteria for being eligible. If enforced, such measure could help preempt NZ passport abuse.
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October 2016

Migrants contribution to the economy of NZ is significant and growing

Migrants need to be valued as economic and cultural contributors to the local communities in various parts of NZ.
Marlborough Migrant Centre manager Margaret Western said that “Marlborough today attracts and needs migrants. Their contribution to our economy is significant and growing.”
Marlborough is a region of New Zealand at the northeastern tip of the South Island. It’s well known for its winemaking industry, and the Marlborough Sounds, an extensive network of coastal waterways, peninsulas and islands.
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Parent Category Residence Changes

The Parent Category is being temporarily closed to new applications. Immigration New Zealand will not make selections from the Parent Category Pool until further notice.

The Government previously set the total number of places for the Capped Family categories (the Parent Category, and the now-closed Sibling and Adult Child Categories) across the 2014/15 and 2015/16 years at 11,000 visa approvals. This number is being reduced to a total of 4,000 visa approvals across the 2016/17 and 2017/18 years.
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New Zealand Residence Programme – Skilled Migrant Category Changes

Two changes to the Skilled Migrant Category have been announced:
– the points threshold for automatic selection has been increased from 140 to 160 from 12 October 2016 (regardless of whether an applicant has a job offer)
– the way applicants show evidence that they meet the minimum standard of English language is changing

Skilled Migrant Category points threshold.
From 12 October 2016 only EOIs with 160 points or more will be selected. This will enable the number of Skilled Migrant Category resident visas granted in 2016/17 to remain within the target range.

Evidence of English language.
The minimum English language requirement for applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category is an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall score of 6.5 across the four language domains (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

Prior to the 12 October change, immigration officers could also consider a variety of alternative pieces of evidence of English language ability in place of an IELTS score, including:
– a recognised qualification where the medium of instruction was English
– one year of skilled employment in New Zealand
– other evidence that the applicant is a competent user of English (for example the country in which the applicant resides, the nature of their current or previous employment, whether members of the applicant’s family speak English). In any case, an immigration officer could still require the applicant to provide an IELTS test.

Changes about who has to do a test. People who are invited to apply from 12 October onwards will not be able to use the same alternative evidence of English language in place of a test as previously.
People invited to apply before 12 October will not be affected and may still use the alternatives previously in place. They only need to provide what Immigration New Zealand has already requested on the invitation to apply.

Do the new English language evidence requirements apply to partners and dependent children? If you have already been invited to apply, the new English language evidence requirements do not apply to you or your partner or children.
If you are invited to apply after 12 October, the new English language evidence requirements will apply to your partner and any dependent children over the age of 16. If you have claimed points for your partner’s qualifications or work experience, those points will not be awarded unless your partner meets the new evidence requirements.
If your partner or dependent children do not meet the minimum standard, you will be required to pre-purchase English tuition. The amount of tuition fees you will be required to pay depends on their test results.
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New Zealand Residence Programme policy changes
The Government has announced changes to the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) for the next two years.

The planning range for the NZRP is being lowered for the two years between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2018. The range will be 85,000 to 95,000 compared with 90,000 to 100,000 for the last two years.

To ensure the number of residence approvals is within the revised planning range the automatic selection mark for migrants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) is being raised from 140 to 160 points.

There are also changes being made to the way SMC applicants can show evidence they meet the English language requirements, which will require more people to undertake formal tests. From November 2016 Immigration New Zealand will be able to accept a wider range of English language tests.

The policy is also being reviewed so that it continues to deliver maximum value for New Zealand.
As well as the changes to the SMC the number of places for the capped family categories is being reduced from 5,500 to 2,000 per year.
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September 2016

A former migrant speaks: Why do I care?
About exploited students and other migrants

I’m an immigrant. After three degrees, two children, and twelve years in NZ, during which I paid my taxes dutifully, and spent not a single month on benefit, I’m also a citizen of Aotearoa New Zealand. I speak more than two languages and understand conversations in a few others. When my husband and I obtained my residency in 2006, and then my citizenship a few years later, my Kiwi friends were truly glad:
‘Such a lovely addition to NZ culture and life!’ they told me and I believe they were sincere. In turn, I was delighted to bring elements of millennia old Indian culture to NZ, to integrate and adapt in a society that offered new opportunities for myself and my family, though challenges did not miss from the mix either.

NZ is a lovely place to study and live in, and its challenges made me stronger and more determined to make a difference in the lives of people who, like myself a few years ago, are negotiating the tumultuous waters of settling in a new place, a new culture, and a new country.

After more than a decade in NZ, I have more friends here than in Chandigarh, my home town in India. Auckland is my home now, and I know how to navigate life in NZ.

But many of the new migrants don’t know the perils that the way to NZ is fraught with. Some of these are dodgy private Training Establishments (PTEs), exploitative employers, and unscrupulous student agents who care about their own commission from NZ tertiary institutions more than about the people whom they send over to study in NZ.

These agents will stop short of nothing to send as many Indian students to NZ as possible. Each student is a walking cheque for them, and the education industry a cash machine. They don’t care if the student’s family is left broke after they take huge loans that they cannot afford to pay back. Unless the student gets a good job after his or her studies end and when they are allowed to work full time, that is.

However, many students don’t get to reach that far. When they apply for their job search visa, one year after they had arrived in NZ as students, Immigration NZ usually reviews the initial application. And then the frauds of the unscrupulous agents become obvious: the forged financial documents in particular. That’s when the students are deported back to India, to heartbreak and humiliation, and to a lifetime of slaving away at low-paid jobs to repay a loan they shouldn’t have taken in the first place.

For some, the shock of having their dreams and future shattered is so soul destroying, and the prospect of facing their impoverished families so unbearable, that they commit suicide.

Lives are destroyed and even lost because nobody feels it’s their problem: the agents say it’s not their problem. So they do whatever it takes to achieve their aim of sending ever more students to NZ.

The education institutions care little beyond receiving their fees, which, at international rates, are quite significant. Unfortunately, the practices of some of the PTEs are quite dishonest, too. There are stories about students whose English is substandard and who pass exams they shouldn’t pass. Many of these students will be denied visas because their English is not good enough.

NZ Government, who is aware of the situation, shrugs its shoulders and glosses over the whole situation, focusing on how useful migrants are to NZ economy. Migrants are a very valuable addition to NZ economy, without a shadow of a doubt, but we need to look after them as well. We cannot behave like spoilt and irresponsible children who want to have all the advantages and benefits, without any of the responsibilities. We are responsible to these students, many of whom are very young, naïve and gullible, and therefore prone to exploitation from all quarters. We cannot continue sweeping under the carpet a problem that will ripple into our own lives and that will affect us all. That already affects us all.

I feel for these students who are victimized from all directions. They are victimized by the agents who commit frauds that will compromise these students’ visa applications, by dodgy education institutions, by employers who underpay and take advantage of them. And even by the Government and other agencies who are aware of the situation, but do nothing or too little to remedy it.

Every day, I see these students and other people whom unscrupulous agents have exploited and lied to. Passport in hand and with long stories to share, they come to us for help. We help many, but some are beyond help, since the damage done to their applications and implicitly to their character in the eyes of INZ cannot be remedied.

We can only urge everyone who wishes to study in NZ to please be very careful what documents your visa application file contains. Please warn your family and friends to be very cautious when choosing an agent. Never accept anything fraudulent done in your name. Because if you do, this will taint your application and character forever.

Aims Global has been in the industry for 12 years and we have helped numerous migrants obtain their visas and residency in NZ. In our offices in Auckland and Chandigarh, we are passionate about helping students and other migrants as well as keeping high standards of service, credibility and trust with students, their families, and INZ.

When another person’s well-being or even life is at stake I cannot not care. I simply cannot.

Contact us if you are serious about moving to NZ: we’d love to hear your story. We’ll do our best to help you out.

Arunima Dhingra
Director, Aims Global
Finalist of the NZAMI Hall of Fame Award, 2015
NZ Licensed Immigration Adviser #200900407


New Zealand needs to upskill its workforce

As baby boomers retire, there’s an increased need for skilled migrants as well as targeted training, whereby NZ trains more engineers than Arts graduates.
It’s vital that NZ targets for job skills so that we have people working in the area that they have specialised in, rather than have university graduates driving cabs, or MAs cooking curries.
Read more

A few immigration statistics are available here.

Edmund Hillary Fellowship chosen to deliver migrants for new entrepreneur visa
Edmund Hillary Fellowship will work with Immigration New Zealand on a new visa meant to attract young entrepreneurs to the country. The global impact visa will be trial for four year pilot and is limited to 400 people. It will offer a work-to-residence pathway: migrant entrepreneurs will first get a work visa, with the ability to apply for a permanent resident visa after three years.
Read more

Migrants are rich and sophisticated consumers
‘Seventy-two per cent of migrants consider themselves financially stable in comparison to just over 50 per cent of New Zealanders, research conducted by investment consultants HT Group and research company Windshift has found. Most migrants are young, highly employed and well educated with 65 per cent holding a bachelors degree or higher – a percentage almost 30 per cent higher than that of Kiwis.’

HT Group managing director Mike Hall-Taylor said that New Zealand businesses fail to target migrant customers.
“There has been much discussion about immigration recently, but none has really centred on what a huge opportunity this group offers New Zealand businesses.”
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Visitor arrivals increase in August
Hon Paula Bennett
Associate Minister of Tourism
21 September 2016 Media Statement

Figures released today by Statistics New Zealand shows tourist numbers are hitting new highs.
For the year ending August 2016 visitor arrivals hit a record 3.36 million, up 11 percent from the August 2015 year. The increase was mainly driven by increases in visitor arrivals from China and Australia.
It was also the most successful August on record, with 221,200 visitors last month, up 9 per cent from 2015 and mainly driven by a 13 per cent increase in holiday arrivals. Visitors from the United States, Australia, and Malaysia saw the biggest increases.

“The tourism sector is experiencing exceptional growth, with visitor arrivals forecast to grow 5.4 per cent a year, reaching 4.5 million visitors in 2022,” Mrs Bennett says.
“While the figures reflect work both the Government and the tourism sector are doing to spread visitor numbers throughout the year, we are also mindful of the need to help regional communities benefit from tourism growth.”
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New Zealand – a multicultural society
Auckland has been rated as more multicultural than Sydney, LA, London and New York, with 39.1 per cent of its population born overseas. But not all is straightforward in this multicultural city. Transportation, housing, pressure on an infrastructure ill-equipped to deal with additions of tens of thousands of new residents per year are just some of the problems. However, open-minded people embrace the change, and are grateful for the diversity that migration brings to Auckland and to NZ.

“The New Zealand the waves of immigrants have created is one of the more diverse nations on earth, and that has made the whole country a more interesting and appealing place to live. It’s critical that the conversation stays about those seeking to come here, rather than being seen as a reflection on those who’ve already come.”
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Iconic Indian singers perform in Auckland
Aims Global Immigration and The Funds Master present for the first time in New Zealand – International Bollywood Music Festival, featuring some of Bollywood’s hottest artists: Manj Musik, Nindy Kaur, and Raftaar.

Manj is the only south Asian artist to collaborate with US based mainstream music producers like Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, T-pain & LMFAO. From multi-million viewers to globally televised performances, selling out concerts around the world, Manj has without a doubt struck a chord with the masses of music lovers in the east and west.

The rapping sensation Raftaar is Bollywood’s leading rapper whose songs have a unique blend of lyrics and is known for his speed and flow in rapping. Raftaar has delivered chart-topping hits over the years and is the most preferred choice of every Bollywood and Punjabi music producer.

Nindy Kaur is the first Urban Punjabi singer to make an impact in Bollywood. Her Bollywood debut was the film Aloo Chaat in which she was featured on the songs Aloo Chaat and Boliyaan. Thereafter her vocals were featured on the track Om Mangalam from Kambaqth Ishq (2009) and the music video, which also featured stars Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor. Her debut album Nindypendent featuring tracks like Akhiaan and 2 seater gaddi and Deewani have topped Bollywood and urban Punjabi charts over the years.
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Paying to get a job
There are cases when people are scammed into paying for jobs they will never get, or using the services of unlicensed advisers who don’t have the applicant’s best interest at heart. The consequences can be dire: refused visas, exploitation, deportation. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to use a licensed adviser, and be extremely scrupulous when it comes to visa applications.
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Chinese language week celebrated in NZ
Chinese Language week is celebrated till Sunday 18 September. “China is one of New Zealand’s largest trading partners. In order to build relationships with trading partners it is important that we better understand the culture and language. It is also important when you are trying to build social and political ties,” says Ethnic Communities Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
“More New Zealanders should learn Mandarin or Cantonese so they can be part of the increasingly important Asian markets we trade with. More than 172,000 ethnic Chinese now call New Zealand home. It is crucial that we therefore celebrate the successes and achievements of Chinese New Zealanders from the first migrant gold miners to our most recent arrivals.”
“When you learn the basics of another language you start to build a relationship with that culture. Chinese Language Week is held to encourage more New Zealanders to have a go at speaking Mandarin or Cantonese.”
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Immigrants are reliable workers and pose less problems for employers
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Prime Minister John Key defends bringing in immigrants to do New Zealand jobs, even in low-skilled work like fruit picking. The government will continue to bring in large numbers of immigrants to fill jobs, he says. The number of people who settled in New Zealand peaked in July, with 69,000 having settled in the country in the past year. Immigration “creates economic activity, and migrants usually add quite a lot of value to our country, not just in terms of what they bring culturally, they generally add to the overall economic wealth of the country,” Key believes.

However, the number of new residents the government expects to enter the country will be reviewed by the Cabinet in the following months. Against the PM, the Labour Party objects to workers being brought in from overseas to fill jobs while thousands of New Zealand labourers are unemployed. Even if he disagrees with reducing the number of immigrants, Mr Key concedes that high immigration puts a strain on the country’s infrastructure. But we need more workers because many employers outside the main cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch) find it hard to get New Zealanders to work due to problems with work ethic, family matters, or geographical location.
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More people come to NZ, fewer New Zealand citizens leave
According to a recent report my Statistics NZ, a record net gain of 71,900 non-New Zealand citizen migrants in the May 2016 year, was partly offset by a smaller-than-usual net loss of 3,500 New Zealand citizens (Kiwis), and produced a record-breaking net gain of 68,400 people. The last time the difference between Kiwi migrants arriving and departing was this narrow was 25 years ago.
More Kiwis are coming back after living overseas and fewer are leaving than in recent years. These historically small net losses of New Zealand citizens combined with record net gains in non-New Zealand citizens have created our current record in migration.
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New Zealand – the seventh most powerful passport in the world
At a par with Greece, New Zealand passport is one of the most powerful in the world, below Switzerland and just above Australia. Holders of a NZ passport can visit 171 countries without a visa. The ranking by Henley & Partners, a citizenship and planning firm, was revealed today, 1 September.
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August 2016

NZ Skills Shortage List should be revamped

Aims Global Director Arunima Dhingra believes that the Skills Shortage List should be revamped to reflect the reality in places like Christchurch.

Possible reduction in the number of Chef visas
The government is reviewing whether chefs, who account for the highest number of skilled work and residence visas, should continue to be classed as a priority profession for attracting immigrant workers.
Last year, more than 4,000 people were granted visas to work as chefs and a further 950 chefs became residents. Immigration New Zealand says there is moderate evidence of the need for foreign workers in this field.
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Ten times more Brits want to migrate to NZ after Brexit
More than 10,500 registrations from people considering moving here from Britain have been lodged with Immigration New Zealand since the Brexit vote. That day Immigration got 998 British registrations, compared with 109 the day before the vote. In 49 days after the vote, there were 10,647 registrations from the UK compared with 4599 over the same period last year.

Immigration “typically receives about 3000 registrations a month from people interested in studying, working or investing from British nationals via the New Zealand Now website”, an agency spokesman said. Before applying, would-be applicants can register on the site to check if their skills are in demand, explore visa options and check if they meet immigration criteria.
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NZ unemployment rate down to 5.1 per cent
Figures released this week by Statistics New Zealand show New Zealand’s unemployment rate is now 5.1 per cent. “The New Zealand economy continues to produce strong job growth,” says Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce. “There were 58,000 more people in employment over the last quarter. 327,000 more jobs have now been created in New Zealand since the worst times of the Global Financial Crisis, that’s a 15 per cent overall increase.”
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Auckland ranked the eighth most liveable city in the world
Despite its record high property prices and traffic issues, Auckland has been ranked the eighth best city in the latest rankings released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Auckland improved one spot from last year, and is now ranked ahead of Helsinki and Hamburg.” Those cities moving up the ranking are located largely in countries that have enjoyed periods of relative stability,” the report says.
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Why hire migrants?
A recent national survey of employers sheds some light on why migrants are excellent employees. Employers were asked why did they hire migrants. The answers were: they were the best candidate (54% of employers), they had skills and qualifications (53%), experience (43% ), good work ethic (36% ) and because of skill shortages (35%).

93% of employers rated migrants’ performance in th workplace as “very good” (64%) or “good” (29%). The main reasons were: right attitude, willing to learn, work ethic, and going above and beyond their role (68%); work is very good quality (49%); they do what is required (45%); they have the required skills and experience (45%).
In terms of their contribution to New Zealand, 63% of employers believe that migrants “make an important contribution to the economy,” while 59% say they make New Zealand “more productive and innovative.”

“These figures show that we all win by taking on skilled migrants,” says John Milford, chief executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
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Migrants – small impact on Auckland’s rising house prices
Migrants have a small impact on Auckland’s rising house prices, a new study commissioned by the Government says.
The research paper contradicts claims that immigration is to blame for house price inflation.
Instead, the main drivers of rising prices in the city are: low interest rates, investor demand, capital gains expectations and New Zealanders returning from overseas.

Any changes to immigration policy by the Government were therefore “unlikely to have much impact on the housing market”, the authors of believed. Limiting new arrivals could even make the situation worse because it would reduce the number of skilled migrants required to ramp up housing supply.
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PM John Key deflects calls for migration review
Key downplayed calls for a review of New Zealand’s migration settings in the wake of record high net migration. High migration is putting pressure on wage growth and on house prices, especially in Auckland, but also increasingly in the rest of the country. Key acknowledged that high migration puts pressure on the system, but, he said, the Government constantly reviews migration settings, especially the “skilled category list.”
“On the other side, we need these people in an environment where unemployment is 5.2% and where growth is still very, very strong. You’ve just got to be careful when you play around with these things that you don’t hamstring certain industries that need these workers,” Key said.
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600 migrants a week
Auckland gains more than 600 new settlers each week, but do they contribute to alleviating Auckland’s crises or skill shortages? Auckland’s persistent skill shortages are mostly in engineering, health and social services, ICT and electronics and trades people.
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The debate continues
New Zealand recorded a net population gain of 69,090 in the year to June. This continues a strong trend of record inward migration over the past couple of years. But Bank of NZ head of research Stephen Toplis believes that the debate about the number of migrants should broaden to include topics such as population size and composition.

“To start with, does New Zealand want GDP [Gross Domestic Product] growth or per capita GDP growth? Are the benefits of population growth more beneficial than the externalities that come with it – such as congestion, pollution and greater stress on our natural resources?”
“[And] is there an optimal population size for New Zealand? And what is the optimal growth rate both in terms of quantum and timing?”

Strict controls would limit the supply of labour force. This “could be counterproductive if that labour is coming to New Zealand to build houses or to provide skills that are lacking,” Toplis believes. Likewise, a reduction in education migrants could negatively impact GDP on services exports.

“We can’t really restrict migrant flows by race for fear of accusation of racism or a trade backlash from those impacted. More generally, xenophobics should pause to ponder whether they themselves are of migrant stock? After all, all Anglo-Saxon New Zealanders were migrants not that many generations ago,” says Toplis. “Arguments for and against migration would best be focused around ‘economic’ and, potentially, ‘cultural’ grounds.”
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Woman told not to bother applying for job if she were to wear her hijab
A Muslim woman who came to NZ as a refugee contacted the Herald after an incident while applying for a job in Auckland. She said a store manager at New Lynn’s Stewart Dawsons had told her not to bother applying if she planned to wear her hijab on the job. Mona Alfadli came with her family as refugees from Kuwait in 2008. She did very well in school and was a deputy head girl at Kelston Girls College, after which she obtained a diploma in applied computer system engineering.

ASB has stepped in and offered her a casual position as wealth operations consultant. “I can do any job, I don’t mind, but I will keep my hijab, I will keep my identity and respect my culture and my religion,” Mona says. It’s always a matter of striking the right balance between keeping your identity and culture and integrating.
Her advice is to never give up: “There’s always a place who will welcome you, don’t stop trying, there will be someone who will say yes.”
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Changes to fees charged in local currencies
From 1 August 2016 the foreign currency visa application fees charged by Immigration New Zealand will change. This is meant to reflect the value of the New Zealand dollar. For instance, if you are a citizen of India currently residing in India, applying for a Student Visa is INR 14,600 or USD 215. No changes will be made to fees paid in New Zealand dollars.
Calculate your fees here.

Serial immigration fraudster jailed
Raymond Claudius, born in Fiji and known previously as Bal Krishna, was sentenced at Christchurch District Court. He was found guilty of three counts of providing false or misleading information in relation to his previous visa applications. Immigration NZ wishes to send a strong signal that frauds are not going to be tolerated.
Read more

July 2016

For NZ Residents and Citizens: Voting in this year’s elections
Local government elections will be held in September and October of this year. Anyone who has received an enrolment update pack should check that their details are correct. If anything needs to be changed, fill in the form and sign, date and return it by 12 August.
Anyone who has not received an enrolment update pack by Monday 4 July either needs to enrol or, if they are already enrolled, to update their enrolment details.
Contact the Commission if you would like to be sent enrolment brochures or posters for your workplace or community offices.
Anyone who has not received an enrolment update pack by Monday 4 July should contact the Electoral Commission. Call 0800 36 76 56, freetext your name and address to 3676, or pick up a form at any PostShop.
Read more

Everyone wants to move to New Zealand or dreams about it
If Donald Trump became President, quite a few  Americans would like to move to New Zealand. Similarly, 24 hours after the Brexit, the UK’s “move to New Zealand” google search reached unprecedented numbers. New Zealand’s image is being promoted by bloggers and online journals such as the Huffington Post. What captures people’s imagination is the natural beauty of the landscape, relatively affordable cities, good coffee, and the general culture of the country, including its passion for sports and dedication to farming, education, and tourism.
Read more

New Zealand’s first ever people trafficking trials
New Zealand’s second ever people trafficking trial will take place in August 2016. It involves a man who helped 16 people into the country unlawfully. In return for his services, he charged them large sums of money for the opportunity to work here.
The first people trafficking trial took place in January 2016. The two accused men were sentenced to 25 months imprisonment, and respectively, 10 months home detention and 300 hours of community service. This should act as a warning against using unlicensed advisers and taking unlawful paths into the country. By contrast, New Zealand licensed  migration advisers know the law and act within its constraints.
Read more

Warning over ‘corrupt’ unlicensed Indian visa agents
NZ government has been accused of creating a “people-smuggling paradise” by turning a blind eye to Indian recruiters offering students visas as a way of obtaining permanent residence.
Agents in India are promoting student visas in New Zealand as a pathway to residence, but there is no guarantee. This is a very lucrative industry, worth seven times more to New Zealand than 10 years ago. However fewer Indian students are now becoming residents.
Read more

Migration, tourism boom continues in June
New Zealand’s booming migration sets new records in June. But economists say it may have peaked. Tourism numbers also continued their strong growth.
Annual net migration reached a new record 69,100 in June. This marks the 23rd month in a row that the annual net gain in migrants has set a new record. At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.31 million in the year ended June 30, up 11 per cent on the year earlier.
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New security check implemented
From 19 July 2016, a new security check will be implemented for all travellers at the time of check-in. All travellers flying to, through or from New Zealand will be checked against INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database. Travellers should notice no difference to the current check-in process. This check will integrate seamlessly with other existing security checks.

The implementation of this additional security measure ensures that people attempting to travel on stolen or lost travel documents are identified early and managed appropriately.
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Immigrant children outperform locals in terms of socioeconomic outcomes
A recent study has found that children of immigrants outperform local children in terms of socioeconomic outcomes. Children of immigrants graduate high school at a rate of 91.6%, compared with 88.8% for local children. They also do better in terms of university completion rates and earnings.

This is proof that immigrants are a valuable contribution to any country.
This study was carried out in Canada, but chances are it holds good in New Zealand as well.
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Don’t get tricked by phone scams
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) warns of a new wave of scam phone calls from people who claim to be working for INZ.

The caller might quote reference numbers that appear to reference INZ applications, but are false. They might even tell you that legal action has been taken against you. There also were instances where the caller asked for payment in the form of iTunes vouchers.

Often the fraudsters have some details of the person they are speaking to such as their name or address. “Fraudsters can be cunning in their tactics and may call from what appears to be a legitimate phone number when the call is actually made from another number. This technology is known as ID spoofing scams,” INZ Area Manager Michael Carley says.

“Never give your personal details out in response to such a call or rely on the caller ID as a means of identification. Be wary of unexpected calls or texts seeking your personal information and do not pay money to anyone you have not met,” advises INZ Area Manager Michael Carley.
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Skilled migrants needed to maintain economic growth in NZ
“The birth rate in NZ is dropping, baby boomers are retiring and for these reasons it is essential for us to have skilled migrants coming to NZ if we want to maintain our standard economic growth and continue with our standard of living, for example, medical and superannuation,” says June Ranson, chair of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI).

Many small to medium-sized companies owned and operated by the “baby boomers” have no succession plans, Rawson says. “Do we want these companies to close down and put their staff out of work, simply because there is no one with the skills and knowledge in NZ to take them over?”
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Over 3000 construction apprentices are needed
More than 3000 apprentices are needed to fill the skills shortage as the building industry continues to boom, especially in Auckland, The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) believes.

“The building industry is screaming out for qualified carpenters and people who are good in the trades. Without the fresh blood coming through you’re not going to maintain a high standard in the future which as we all know is crucial,” says Complete Build director Karlan Zink.
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Immigration NZ will introduce new policy for amending personal information
In August 2015, a former Ethiopian refugee complained against Immigration New Zealand (INZ) for refusing to correct his date of birth information.

Through no fault of his own, the young man arrived in New Zealand with travel documents that incorrectly stated his age as being at least three years younger than his actual age. This meant that he was unable to earn the adult minimum wage, access financial assistance or get a drivers licence.

After they addressed this complaint, INZ has promised “a better policy for other migrants facing similar difficulties.” Any new policies will be announced publicly.
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Record international student enrolments in 2015
New Zealand’s international education industry grew 13 per cent to 125,011 international student enrolments in 2015, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced in a Government press release.

“New Zealand is increasingly being recognised for the excellent education and study experiences it delivers to both local and international students.”

“The benefits of international education extend well beyond the economic contribution to the economy. Young New Zealanders live and learn alongside people from other countries, increasing their understanding of other cultures and boosting our links with the world. These links are vital for us to prosper in an increasingly Asia-Pacific world.”

Auckland continues to be the largest region for international student enrolments with 63 per cent of enrolments, similar to 2014. Canterbury has 8.4 per cent of enrolments (an increase in enrolments of 13 per cent to 10,547), and Wellington has 5.9 per cent (an increase of 9 per cent to 7,456) of international student enrolments.
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NZ immigration three times Brexit Britain

Given the population size, the NZ gain “represents a considerably more significant economic and social trend in this country,” says Herald business editor Liam Dann.
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June 2016

More than 400 migrants take up jobs in northern NZ
More than 400 overseas workers have been recruited to fill Northland jobs, which no New Zealanders were suitable for, in the past year. Immigration New Zealand figures show 427 workers from overseas had “essential skills” work visas approved in Northland areas in the year to the end of March. The visa allowed people to work in New Zealand for up to five years if their employer had first checked whether any New Zealanders were available to do the work, according to Immigration New Zealand.
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Changes for residence applications processed in China
From 1 July 2016, all residence applications that would have been processed at INZ Shanghai Area Office will be processed in Auckland, New Zealand.
This change affects the following residence applications and expressions of interest:
—Skilled Migrant Category
—Family Uncapped Streams – Dependent Child and Partnership residence applications
—Family Capped Streams – Parent Category Expression of Interest and residence applications.
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metro-ad.png pie chart that shows the small percentage of UK population that migrants represent

Man makes strong statement with regard to the impact of immigration in the UK

Laurence Taylor was annoyed by the unfounded allegations with regard to migration in the UK, so he paid a full ad page in a main newspaper to make his message heard. He was fed up with the lies around the debate whether the UK should leave EU or stay. His statement had a significant impact on the day before the UK referendum and caught the attention of people on both sides of the debate.
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Record migration inflows, fewer to leave
busy airport hall. Migrants use Auckland airport as the main gateway into NZ.
Population growth from migration continues to break all previous records with a net gain of 68,432 residents in the year to May. This was the 22nd month in a row that the annual net migration gain had set a new record.

There’s a record numbers of new arrivals: 124,800 coming to NZ on a permanent or long term basis in the year to May ( 8% on the previous 12 months). The biggest source country for new arrivals remains India, with a net gain of 12,274 people in the year to May, followed by China and Hong Kong 10,418, The Philippines 5,142, the UK 3,942, France 3,144, Germany 3,033 and South Africa 2,918.

For any immigration and study inquiries AIMS can help.
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38,300 people have settled in Auckland in the last year, analyst says
The official number of people who have settled in Auckland in 2015 is 38,300, but analyst John Polkinghorne believes that the actual numbers are much higher. Auckland’s annual “natural increase” (births minus deaths) is around 15,000, so over double this number is a really big figure, Polkinghorne emphasises.

Many migrants, however, do not indicate a destination address. Statistics NZ confirms: “Just over half of all arrivals who stated an address on their arrival card indicated they would reside in Auckland. Of those who stated an address on their departure card, 42 percent were migrating from the Auckland region. In comparison, the Auckland region is home to 34 percent of New Zealand’s population (at 30 June 2015)”.
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New Zealand Residence Programme – Skilled Migrant Category fortnightly selection
The Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest selection took place at approximately 1.00pm NZ time on Wednesday June 8, 2016. The next selection will take place in a fortnight.
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Company sponsors English classes and helps migrants thrive
English Language Partners Rotorua and Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust have partnered to help migrants and refugees consolidate their English communication skills. English Language Partners organises not-for-profit charity education programmes run by nine tutors and 30 volunteers, who teach group classes and in-home lessons.

“Migrants and refugees should have the opportunity to learn English, pursue aspirations for themselves and their families, and participate in all aspects of Rotorua life – our role is to help these learners and their whole whanau reach their full potential,” manager Anna Hayes said.

“It takes a lot of courage for someone with little-to-no English skills to approach us – I’ve had people in the past who were too scared to even leave the house. But through our classes, their confidence begins to grow and they flourish into a whole new person.”
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A Chinese woman has been jailed over immigration fraud
Yunjuan Li was declined a visa to New Zealand in 2004. She then obtained a fraudulent Chinese passport for both her and her son. She was approved a visitor visa in 2005 and subsequently married a New Zealand citizen in 2006. In 2011 she was granted a residence under her false identity. She was arrested in 2015 following an investigation by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) which revealed the true extent of her offending.
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More Skilled Migrants Needed
There is an ongoing debate about migrant numbers in New Zealand, but all sides agree that there is a need for more skilled migrants: doctors, software engineers, etc. Skilled migrants would push the economy up, while unskilled migrants are likely to be detrimental to the economy. Of about 36, 000 extra new migrants over the past year, 20, 000 are international students, while the rest are people on temporary work visas.
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Immigration NZ website Outage:
Some online visa applications will be unavailable

11 – 14 June
From 8:00am Saturday, 11 June (NZ time) you won’t be able to view or start a new online application, unless it’s for a Working Holiday Visa, or a Skilled Migrant expression of interest. We expect online applications to be available again from Wednesday 15 June.
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The migrant debate by the numbers: Who’s really coming to New Zealand?

There have been fiery debates relating to migrants in the past few days, some of them backed by unsubstantiated opinions. So, who’s really coming to New Zealand?
It’s mostly under-35s with work visas, including working holidays, international students and returning Kiwis and Australians. Migration is at an all-time high in New Zealand but the real story behind the rhetoric and “concerns” about migrants is a combination of the three main categories of work visa, distributed mostly across Europeans and students from India and China.
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NZ industries would struggle without migrant labour

The hospitality, tourism, farming and building sectors say they all are heavily dependent on migrant labour and would be worried at any suggestion of cutbacks.
NZ First leader Winston Peters has suggested annual immigration should be capped at between 7,000 and 15,000 “seriously” qualified migrants.
A recent Treasury paper said migrants helped the economy by providing complementary skills and filling skill gaps.
That’s endorsed by industries relying on migrant workers to fill jobs Kiwis don’t want or lack the skills to do.
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May 2016

More than 4,000 people from overseas have taken jobs in the Bay – NZ

Over the past 34 months about 4,000 migrants were offered positions in the Bay of Plenty mostly due to local shortage of suitable Kiwis to do the work. The top three occupations approved under Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme throughout NZ were chef, dairy cattle farmer, and retail manager. In the Bay, “the main sectors that required skilled workers included health, ICT, engineering, and new and emerging roles such as innovation managers,” said Area manager Michael Carley.
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Wellington businesses supported with migrant skills – NZ

Wellington Immigration Gold Awards recognise businesses that ensure that their new migrant employees are welcomed and supported through the challenges of adjusting to Kiwi workplaces, while they settle and build a life in Wellington.

Immigration New Zealand Deputy Chief Executive Nigel Bickle says: “Wellington – like all regions – has always been reliant on migrant skills to help its businesses to prosper. Where skills can’t be sourced locally, Immigration New Zealand supports businesses to recruit and retain the best skills available from around the world”.
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The contribution of immigrants to NZ economy is valued at top level – NZ

When surveying the economy in his 2016 Budget presentation in front of the Parliament, Bill English was expected to celebrate the relatively strong economic growth arising from continuing immigration gains.
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April 2016

Changes to the Essential Skills in Demand Lists – NZ

Changes to Immigration New Zealand’s Essential Skills in Demand (ESID) Lists have taken effect on 11 April 2016. These changes implement the decisions announced on 18 December 2015 to:
• add four occupations to the Immediate Skill Shortage List
• remove seven occupations in the oil and gas sector from the Immediate Skill Shortage List
• remove six other occupations from the Immediate Skill Shortage List
• remove two occupations from the Long Term Skill Shortage List.
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Students to gain NZQF Credits by obtaining Class one Driver’s Licence – NZ

From 1 April 2016 students are be able to gain New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) credits by obtaining a Learner’s, Restricted or Full Driver’s Licence.

This was in response to employer concerns at the considerable number of young job seekers severely limiting their employability and employment options through not having a driver’s licence. Consequently, a cross-agency group was established to explore options to address these concerns. The group included: Ministry of Education, New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), New Zealand Transport Agency (Transport Agency) and Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

NZQA will work with schools and tertiary education organisations to ensure that there is minimal impact on teacher and administration workloads. The only new requirement for schools and tertiary education organisations will be authenticating the driver licence and then reporting the credits on behalf of the Transport Agency to NZQA to be recorded on the learner’s Record of Achievement.
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Change to VAC fee in India

From 1 May 2016, the local currency VAC service fee in India is increasing to INR 950. This increase is only applicable to applicants who are in India and submitting a physical application to a VAC in India.

The VAC fee associated with handling passports linked to applications made through Immigration Online is not changing. The updated fee information will be published on the office and fees finder on the date of the increase.