May 11's immigration announcement has brought relief for some and major disappointment for many.

Indian Weekender spoke to immigration experts to find out how the news would impact the Indian migrant community and those international students who intend to study in NZ in future. 

 

Arran Hunt
Partner, Stace Hammond

New Zealand has, for years, advertised the post-study work visa as one of the advantages of studying in NZ. It was a sweetener one relied on by the government to bring in fee-paying students. But the current change makes our education providers much less attractive to international students. I wonder why future students would bother studying here.

The government should be looking at how it can get more New Zealanders to work in-demand areas rather than cutting off the flow and forcing employers to go without staff.

The government has chosen to reward those on high paying jobs. This would show the government sees values only in fiscal terms. As the Green Party pointed out, this ignores the value provided by those who contribute substantially in roles such as aged care. These roles are filled by migrants as there aren't enough locals to fill the positions. Cutting off that supply won't suddenly create local staff, meaning a continued shortage in these roles, as migrants are drawn to countries that provide a pathway to residence. In NZ, instead of a path to the residence, they are shown a limited visa length and a need to leave the country at the end.

The Minister has also talked several times about these new policies being put in place to fight the exploitation of migrants. These policies reduce migrant exploitation by removing migration. The new policy is an approach that cripples industries to the detriment of citizens and residents who miss out on the services those migrants provide and taxpayers who miss out on growth and taxes. It's a short-sighted response from a party that continues to show it is anti-migrant.

The only benefit from yesterday's announcement is that some migrants will get a visa extension. However, we believe that it is a way to reduce the workload on Immigration New Zealand, which is already at risk of collapsing from its workload.

Madhu Behl
Director, M&M Immigration Consultants

The announcement about opening borders from July 31, earlier than the previously announced date of October, is a welcome move to reconnect NZ to the rest of the world. This will also allow migrants from non-visa waiver countries to connect with their loved ones as the visitor visa will open.

However, in terms of work and residence pathways, this policy creates a two-tier system using wage as a proxy for skill. Jobs which are not under green list occupation or paid twice the median wage will not have residence pathways.

There is no certainty around residence for jobs outside the Green List, which can create difficulties for employers to attract workers if they are not sure to stay permanently. Moreover, partners of accredited employer work visa holders also do not get open work visa rights. They have to apply on their own.

This policy has only recognised highly skilled or (in fact, highly paid) skill shortages and does not recognise that there is a labour shortage.

Post-study work rights of students have also changed. Now, international students in non-degree courses (except green list occupation courses)  will not qualify for post studies work visas. They have to apply for AEWV after completing the course for jobs paid at median wage, making it harder for the education industry to attract students.

Jagjeet Singh Sidhu
Director, Immigration Matters

I do welcome some of yesterday's announcements about Immigration rebalancing. But not necessarily the automatic extension of a work visa for two years for those who are here on a work visa because this would put pressure on employers as they fear that the employee would leave the job and do whatever they want. Regarding the student visa changes, NZ would not attract student visa applicants, as they can't see future pathways, not even open work visas, if they are not studying in Green list professions.

INZ should have rolled back visas for those stranded in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as these are the people who already have NZ qualifications and skills and can readily add value to the economy.