Sunday, November 28

The government ‘has ignored us’: those excluded from the fast track of residence speak out


For Devdeep Singh, the government’s announcement of a new fast-track residence visa came just in time.

“I almost went to Canada,” said the 27-year-old, who has been in New Zealand since 2016 on a temporary basis.

But others, even some with the skills New Zealand desperately needs, have been shut out of the politics reboot and for them, it is another bitter blow.

Residence visa application form

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

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“There was no opportunity or hope for us. And suddenly, we had hope overnight,” said Singh, who has been working in New Zealand after studying IT in Christchurch on a scholarship.

“I work with a company in Christchurch and we support people with intellectual physical disabilities, Huntington’s disease and even children.”

It is one of the beneficiaries of a unique new ‘residence visa 2021’ that allows migrants with most temporary work-related visas to obtain residency in New Zealand.

It is estimated that up to 165,000 migrants can now be quickly tracked and will become residents by the end of 2022.

That’s about 68 percent of the temporary migrants currently in the country. For them, Immigration New Zealand’s announcement on September 30 was a welcome release from uncertainty.

Yet while migrants like Singh can now finally put down roots in New Zealand, thousands of others feel left out, despite meeting several of the criteria. In many cases, they have been caught studying, with the wrong type of visa.

“The biggest problem right now is that those people who have been here five to ten years through no fault of their own are trying to comply with the system, the immigration requirements, but as a result, they are now ineligible.” Anu Kaloti, an Auckland-based migrant rights activist and immigration advisor.

A migrant rally in Auckland, June 2021

A migrant rally in Auckland, June 2021
Photo: Bharti Kaloti

An essential healthcare worker, who prefers to keep his name confidential, has been caught up in a never-ending routine of full and part-time work and study. But residency still eludes him because right now he has a study visa, not a work visa.

“I came here for the first time in 2015, I studied level 7 courses in health. And then, based on that education, I worked for four years in essential health care.

“I applied for residency in 2018. But for almost 22 months, Immigration New Zealand didn’t decide. So I decided to withdraw my application.”

She then began studying nursing to obtain an occupational registration, improve her skills, and be in a better position when she reapplied for residency, while still working full time. He thought that was what the government wanted him to stay. But now, as a student, he is excluded by the new policy.

Paying international student fees in excess of $ 20,000 per year and requiring to show a bank balance to support himself, life has been fraught with challenges for him.

“The government has completely ignored all the hard work and efforts of the last six years. We ask you to expand the criteria in a logical way,” he said.

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Among the aggrieved is Mauricio Kimura, who moved here in 2017 with his family from Brazil to do a PhD at the University of Waikato in Artificial Intelligence in Law. He and his wife, who has a partner visa, do not qualify for this residency visa, again, because he is studying.

Mauricio Kimura arrived from Brazil with his young family in 2017 to do his PhD at the University of Waikato

Mauricio Kimura arrived from Brazil with his young family in 2017 to do his PhD at the University of Waikato
Photo: Supplied

“As doctors, we obtained different visas that are different from masters, bachelor’s degrees, because it allows us to work unlimited hours, there is no limit. Research does not seem to work, but research is also working full time. Some universities hire doctors, they give them employment contracts. But it is not yet a qualification to give us a visa, “said Kimura.

“People have sacrificed a lot of money to the emotional investment of their time and to being essential workers and frontline workers in the confinement.

“While this is a partial victory, our work continues, the campaign continues to try to achieve the inclusion of people who have been left out. Migrant workers are part of the fabric of our society,” Anu Kaloti of the Migrant Workers Association. Aotearoa, he said.


www.rnz.co.nz

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