Thursday, December 9

‘I don’t exist’: government silence hurts migrant parents

Migrant parents say they feel invisible after being excluded from an immigration ad offering residency to thousands more.

Dr. Ana Popovska Stojanovska with her son Ivan Kostovski and her husband Toshe Stojanovski.

Dr. Ana Popovska Stojanovska with her son Ivan Kostovski and her husband Toshe Stojanovski.
Photo: Supplied

It has been five years since immigration policy last invited parents of resident immigrants and current citizens to settle in New Zealand, despite the government announcing a new program two years ago.

The parent category was suspended in 2016 and once again in March 2020, at the same time that the qualified migrant visa process was halted.

But while skilled immigrants will be among the 165,000 workers and their families eligible for the single residency visa announced a fortnight ago, the 5,462 parents will not.

Macedonian doctor Ana Popovska Stojanovska said that since the two visa categories, qualified migrant and parent, had been included together in previous government announcements, it was annoying that the immigration minister did not mention parents.

“Now they are dividing us,” he said.

“That gives me the feeling that I do not exist. They do not realize me. It is an overwhelming feeling, not only that they do not love me, but that I am air, that I disappear into air for them. I have the feeling that very institutionally everyone would be very happy if I passed away, it would no longer be a problem for anyone “.

He applauded the government’s response to Covid-19, especially since North Macedonia has the third highest death rate in the world, and he needed to know if he could reach a deal.

“I would not be alive if I had been in Macedonia,” she said.

“There are almost 7000 deaths in Macedonia, and that country is two and a half times smaller than New Zealand. I have diabetes, it is very mild, but I do not know my immunity. If I go back to Macedonia, I will die. I am a doctor. I am very conscious. of that “.

Parents and their adult children say that without any indication of when the residency policy will be decided, they feel ignored and marginalized, even those parents, like Ana Popovska Stojanovska, who were in New Zealand when the border was closed and therefore , they do not need controlled isolation. (MIQ) spaces.

An Official Information Act response she received last month showed that she and her husband, who arrived in March 2019, are two of 961 parents currently in New Zealand and waiting to be invited to apply in the category of parents.

The checkered history of that immigration program included its suspension pending review in 2016 and its shelving last year after the government said immigration authorities had to focus on the pandemic.

The time that has elapsed has prompted families to take cases to the appeals court, including people here during the pandemic who they have been deported and others that have you have been granted residency

Social and human implications

Gisborne Forest Manager Megan Costello, whose parents are in Canada, said it had been a heartbreaking wait for her Expressions of Interest (EOI) to be considered.

“Every week I have to tell you that New Zealand has become anti-migrant and is not even doing the right thing for the people who are already here in the country – so what hope is there for the people who have been waiting six years for? Have your EOIs been reviewed?

“This whole situation is unbelievable. I cannot go to Canada to visit them because there is no way I will come back through MIQ. My parents have been vaccinated twice for months. We are prepared to allow them to quarantine with us at home. I cannot tell you. how many letters have I sent to Labor MPs without the courtesy of a reply. “

To add to her difficulties, a medical diagnosis led her GP to recommend that the mother of two seriously consider reducing her working hours or quitting her job, but that could affect her parents in applying for residency.

“My hands are tied because I have to maintain income level for my parents to be eligible and there is no deadline yet to consider their application.”

Immigration consultant Brandon Han said the criteria – only people whose resident children earn more than $ 106,000 a year can apply under the criteria that Labor and New Zealand first agreed to in 2019 – is difficult for many families.

The policy was also capped at 1,000 per year, which could mean waiting another five years for a residency decision.

Last year’s Labor election manifesto, however, said it would revise the policy and profit threshold, which has been criticized as unfair and illogical.

“They have been struggling for quite some time because of the high income threshold in the income of adult children,” Han said.

“So they thought this may be the opportunity, the time, that they can circumvent that unreasonable high-income threshold. But once again, they are so disappointed to hear that the policy is not yet designed to include them.”

In a statement, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said: “No decisions have been made on the resumption of selections for the main category. A planned review of the category closer to the time when border travel becomes more available will look at barriers to access, including consideration of income thresholds. “

Professor Paul Spoonley, who researches settlement and immigration policy, said the government should turn its attention to parents already in New Zealand and those waiting abroad.

“We need to consider the social and human implications of migration policies, and one of them is family reunification. And a key part of that is considering the opportunity for migrants who have been given residency in New Zealand to bring their parents. to this country”. If the rest of the family is here, why shouldn’t the parents come?

“We’ve seen a lot of anxiety and discontent about the government’s approach to considering residency applications. So some of those answers are answered, but then we have other categories and the main category is one of those.”

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