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‘Getting advice’: Immigration minister Stanford opens up on 5-year parent visa

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford

The government will soon begin working out a mechanism for a five-year renewable parent visa, which two of the three parties in the ruling coalition promised in the run up to the elections, Erica Stanford has said.

The immigration minister told The Indian Weekender she will soon kick off the modalities. "Introducing a five-year renewable parent category visa, conditional on covering healthcare costs, is in the National-ACT Coalition Agreement. I will be getting advice from officials on options for this and will share further details when available.”

Stanford also unveiled her strategic vision for the upcoming year, focusing on how to manage the record-high migration in recent months. 

“It is a privilege to be New Zealand's Minister of Immigration. Over the coming year, my priorities are to manage New Zealand's record-high numbers of net migration to more sustainable levels, revitalize international education, ensure we are attracting the skills and talent we need to meet genuine skill shortages and ensure we have a strong-performing regulatory system."

Emphasising the need for New Zealand to maintain its appeal as a destination for migrants, she acknowledged the current levels of net migration are not sustainable, particularly in the context of a tightening labour market. 

"In the face of a tightening labour market, we need to ensure we attract the skills we need to meet genuine skill shortages while giving Kiwis the opportunity to fill available roles," the MP for East Coast Bays emphasised.

To tackle immediate challenges, the 46-year-old is diving into the complexities of immigration settings, especially eyeing the Accredited Employer Work Visa. 

"I have requested advice from officials on immediate and medium-term changes to immigration settings, in particular how we can tighten up policy settings for the Accredited Employer Work Visa," she said, underscoring her commitment to fine-tuning policies to make them more responsive and effective.

But the Minister's concerns extend beyond policy. She has issued a warning to prospective migrants against falling prey to scams. From paying for jobs to promises of instant residence, she urged vigilance, showcasing a commitment to protecting those looking to make New Zealand their home.

"Anyone planning on getting a visa to come to New Zealand should watch out for scams. If migrants are asked to pay for their job, are promised residence, or are not getting updates on their application - it is likely they are being scammed," she cautioned.

The minister highlighted the collaborative efforts with foreign embassies and international campaigns, including in India, to educate migrants on navigating the system without falling victim to scams.

“Immigration New Zealand has worked closely with foreign embassies and run international marketing campaigns, including in India, on what to look out for to ensure migrants are not scammed. The Immigration New Zealand website also has warning signs and information on how migrants can protect themselves from an immigration scam.”

On a parting note, the minister clarified that no considerations are being made to grant visas to migrants who have been stuck offshore during Covid-19, like those on essential, student or partnership visas.

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