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‘National Treating Migrants As Unwanted Commodity’

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Migrants go back. This seems to be the clear message that the current government has sent to some of the migrants in New Zealand. 

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) holders in roles that are at ANZSCO Skill Level 4 and 5 who do not have a pathway to residency will not be able to support work, visitor or student visa applications for their partners and dependent children. 

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This decision is not entirely unfair and unjust because each country has the right to decide and implement their own visa policies. Then why has it brought so much pain to you?

It is the manner in which this decision has been implemented. The new policy came into force the same day that it was announced. The INZ did not give any notice/time to those work visa holders who are already in New Zealand in skill level 4 and 5 jobs to support applications for their family members. 

Why is this announcement unfair?

On May 17, 2023, INZ announced that most partnership-based work visas will become conditional. This change came into effect on May 31, 2023. 

The announcement regarding pausing the increase in the median wage rate for AEWV was made on December 21, 2023, almost six weeks before the median wage rate was increased.

The announcement regarding some further details on the introduction of a maximum continuous stay for AEWV holders was made on August 14, 2023, almost three months before the changes came into effect.

On April 7, 2024, when the changes to AEWV maximum stay periods were announced, it was mentioned by this government that the cut-off date of June 21, 2023, was used because applicants who applied after that date expected to be granted a five-year work visa. 

The same fairness has not been extended to skill level 4 and 5 workers who are currently in New Zealand. When they applied for their visas, they expected they would be able to bring their families with them.

Clearly, INZ has deviated from its established path and made a knee-jerk announcement without considering its devastating impact on workers like you who are already working in skill level 4 and 5 roles and wish to support their family’s visas. 

How has it affected you?

Though we do not have a confirmed number, it is estimated that hundreds of workers in skill level 4 and 5 roles have been affected negatively by this announcement. 

Feedback from some of our clients suggests many reasons why they had not yet called their families to New Zealand. Some common reasons that came up during enquiry are:

‘I wanted to get settled here first, before calling my wife and kids.’

‘My wife applied for a general visitor visa to come to New Zealand because INZ’s processing times for partnership-based visas was too long. We thought once she is here, she can apply for a partnership-based visa.’

‘I was due to get married soon, now I cannot support my wife to come to New Zealand.’

By giving no notice to skill level 4 and 5 workers currently in New Zealand, this current government has treated you like an unwanted commodity. Their message is clear, this current regime does not care about your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

Why are you being treated like this?

This is the question that you should be asking the current Immigration Minister, Erica Stanford. I remember, a few years ago, when the previous government had suspended the Skilled Migrant Category and left thousands of migrants in limbo, Erica came out in their support. She also conducted an Immigration Public Meeting in Papatoetoe on June 12, 2021. 

So, what has changed now? Perhaps, siding with migrants at that stage served her political ambitions in the best manner. Pragmatism and compassion be damned. 

I sincerely hope that better sense prevails upon the policymakers and this decision is amended to allow on-shore skill level 4 and 5 workers to support visas for their dependent children and partners. 


(Hemant Kaushal is a Licensed Immigration Adviser who runs his own practice in Auckland.)

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