New Zealand Immigration: Sound advice at outset is critical

July 13, 2009


There has been much publicity about the difficulties being faced by migrant workers in New Zealand due to the changes in the New Zealand economy. Their plight raises a number of issues but much of the publicity and accompanying rhetoric misses what is important. Anyone dependent on maintaining their immigration status should never underestimate the need for proper advice and planning. Relocating to another country, whether temporary or permanent, is a major undertaking at any time and obtaining, and retaining, the necessary immigration status is a fundamental requirement. The current immigration difficulties being faced by many migrants are a direct consequence that they did not seek professional advice or they sought (or more often simply relied upon) advice either too late or from the wrong sources. These migrants do not have permanent residence status, but are on work visas or work to residence visas. Entering New Zealand on anything less than a Permanent Residence visa can be risky as it does not guarantee your right to remain indefinitely. The Emigration Group always advise migrants to apply (where eligible) for Permanent Residence. This is a more complex visa than a temporary work visa and costs more to prepare and to process, but it allows you to remain in New Zealand indefinitely, whether or not you lose your job. It is probably because it costs more that some migrants and/ or advisors do not encourage clients to apply for it. They may want to “keep it cheap” and don’t understand the implications of what this could mean in the future. Well, those in New Zealand that are now affected certainly know what it means now. The New Zealand Government has recognised the need and importance of migrants receiving expert and professional immigration advice and has, specifically for this purpose, enacted legislation whichrequired all immigration advisers practicing in New Zealand to be licensed (unless exempt) from May this year. Those advisers based outside of New Zealand have until May 2010 to be licenced. The Chairman of the New Zealand Association & Investment (NZAMI) has commented that, “ the fact that migrant lobby groups have taken it upon themselves to coordinate and publicise action to attract vulnerable migrants, and highlight their plight, does not serve any constructive purpose except in providing false hope to many people whose dreams of a life in New Zealand are already under threat. Efforts should instead be focused on encouraging these people to seek a professional review of their individualcircumstances from a licensed immigration adviser or an immigration lawyer. We note the Associate Minister ofImmigration has commented on the ability of these lobby groups to give any immigration advice.The best approach with any immigration applicant is to determine a long term strategy to achieve the endimmigration objective and to work purposefully within policy to achieve this outcome. Always, and especially in the current economic climate, every endeavour should be made with any application to research and prepare the application in a manner that provides the very best prospect of success. This is not a time for compromise. Alternative strategies should also be developed as immigration matters do not always go to plan! Similarly if a person intends to obtain New Zealand residence then this opportunity should be taken at the earliest available opportunity. Some of the recent publicity surrounds people in New Zealand on long term work to residence permits under the accredited employer or LTSSL categories. We would be very surprised if many of these people were not eligible to apply directly for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category at the outset and this would have been the advice given by most advisers. This is now proving a costly oversight for these people.” The number of sad stories immigration advisers and lawyers see from migrants who did not originally seek professional immigration advice, or who compromised on the quality of their immigration advice, and who could have been helped if they had made contact earlier is frustrating and disappointing. While there will always be situations where some migrants have had an unfortunate immigration experience the opportunity now exists for them to directly select and appoint a licensed immigration adviser from the IAA public website who has the credentials to make a valuable contribution to the success of their immigration outcome. This would be a small price to pay to achieve the dream of living in New Zealand that so many people still have and to avoid many of the problems now being publicised.” The Emigration Group endorse this point of view from the NZAMI, which is why we have already begun to have our consultants apply for licences. Consultant Sally Tomkinson is one of only five UK based consultants to hold a full IAA advisors licence. See: http://www.iaa.govt.nz/adviser-register/200800496.htm

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