Saturday, November 27

‘Tear apart the family’: Cautious optimism about fast-track visa option for 165,000 migrants

New Zealand will welcome five times its usual number of new residents by the end of next year in what the government describes as “the largest immigration decision in memory.”

New Zealand will welcome five times its usual number of new residents by the end of next year in what the government describes as “the largest immigration decision in memory.”

Kris faafoi

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Immigration Minister Kris Faafio said he wanted 165,000 immigrants and their families to make New Zealand their home, a move welcomed by the business, agriculture and healthcare sectors.

But the migrants are more cautious, saying ‘healthy skepticism’ and uncertainty about the details will delay their celebrations.

Those whose jobs need registration, such as teachers and nurses, or those who are paid more than $ 27 an hour can apply, as can most migrant workers who have been here more than three years.

Partners and children abroad will be able to join them once managed isolation capacity makes it possible next year.

About 3,000 doctors and nurses are among those awaiting residency.

Kāpiti’s GP Anne Solomon has been waiting for a year, unable to apply for residency for her family of five. Without him, a daughter, who is leaving school this year, cannot work. His oldest daughter is in college.

“Actually, the scariest prospect for us is that it rips apart the family. You know, one has to go and another is settled, and you start to wish you never came because this is the last thing you want to happen. It hurts precisely what you set out to protect and the future of the children you wanted to ensure “.

Covid-19 had accentuated the feeling of uncertainty, he added.

“It is such a delicate moment that it affects you emotionally in a way that is very difficult to put in writing, but the feeling of insecurity is quite deep. We have been in a process of waiting for verification and clarification for more than a year and they have it. I have pushed further down the line.

“Obviously, if I’m optimistic, it seems like something is really moving, but now there is a kind of learned skepticism – until we see it in our hands, we won’t really believe it, but we want to believe it.

“But it could be another 14 months because it’s December when the application is submitted and then it could take a year. Yes, that’s good news, but we have to maintain this kind of healthy skepticism until we actually see the results, then there will be a big sigh of relief.”

Migrants NZ has 54,000 members, and one of its founders, Anna Burghardt, said that today she was inundated with calls and messages from happy or anxious people.

Some say they are determined not to get their hopes up about the promise of residency by the end of next year and worry that they will join a new line.


Information technology consultant Satish Bamal, who was granted residency in August, said he had mixed feelings: happy for those affected, but disappointed that others had to go through the ordeal.

“An apology would be really good because there has been a lot of suffering, there has been a lot of mental torture and having to deal with all the stress and uncertainty, so an apology would definitely be incredible.”

Forget the rejected suggestions that you should apologize today.

“We recognize the difficulties that people have been through, but I think this morning they woke up with a fairly complete resolution of some of the uncertainties that they have had and that their employers have had.”

“In fact, I think it should have been an apology rather than just an acknowledgment that people have been hurting,” said immigration consultant David Cooper.

“I think it would make a big difference, because if you’ve been sitting in New Zealand and you haven’t hugged your child for 18 months or two years, and a Crown minister stands up and says, ‘I’ I’m sorry, We got there in the end, if this has hurt you, I’m really sorry but we’re moving forward. ‘

“I think that would go a long way in making those immigrants who have been working very hard to help New Zealand keep running during Covid feel much better about where they can choose to settle.”

But events manager Tom Finkin felt an apology would be hollow. He has been in New Zealand since 2017 and applied in November 2019, worked for a charity and then moved to Wanaka. He described the immigration process as an arduous journey.

“I’m so happy for everyone who now can’t have to go through what we did. But it’s bittersweet. The fact that we had to pay so much, do so much to get here and all of a sudden I’ll just say ‘oh, sweetie, here’s a path to residence for everyone else. ‘

“This was really predictable. There was a delay in 2018 so nothing is happening in 2019. It must have been a huge hit to the economy with the number of people like me who have probably left and could have contributed and It really helped these companies to do more with our skills that we brought from another country. “

New Zealand Immigration said applications like yours would continue to be processed instead of waiting for the new path to residency.

Faafoi said the applications would be processed in two tranches, with December applications prioritized for residency applications already in the queue, due to the time they have waited. The second tranche involved EOIs, which included adolescents aged 17 and over, which would give them certainty about the beginning of tertiary education.

With 100,000 residency visas issued in the last three years, and 165,000 promised to be approved in 12 months, some are skeptical that the schedule will be adhered to.

“They currently have 11,000 or 12,000 apps in the queue and they can’t handle that right now,” Cooper said.

“How are they going to manage that kind of volume [165,000 visas]? We are already listening to people, the concern they are expressing is why the delay in being able to apply and where is the confidence that people will actually go through the system quickly, within a year.

“Despite the streamlining, if immigration doesn’t have the resources, we’ll just create another queue.”

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