Archive for May, 2011

Overstayer

May 28, 2011

My impression is that overstayers are not welcome in New Zealand.

Often the word ‘bludger’ is associated with the word ‘overstayer’, seen as someone who came in to New Zealand on false pretences (for example as a tourist or visiting family) and now takes from the system (health, benefits, housing etc.) without paying in.

The Collins English Dictionary’s NZ definition is:
“overstayer: one who stays beyond the end time of an immigration work permit”

This adds up to a powerful and emotive label: ‘overstayer’.

Imagine being labelled an overstayer by the immigration department and told you are going to be deported. That wouldn’t be too cool.

It might surprise you to learn that this is happening increasingly to people who came to New Zealand in good faith – offering skills, business expertise and investment – through no fault of their own.

How to become an overstayer
Skilled workers and entrepreneurs are finding that the journey to Permanent Residency in New Zealand is a lot more dangerous than it used to be.

Although it sounds obvious and simple, temporary migrant’s status in New Zealand is based on their visa. Step outside the bounds of the visa and they lose their status.

All you have to do is get pregnant, get sick, split with your partner (even as a result of domestic abuse), or be made redundant and you too could be instantly win the title of ‘overstayer’. Your kids blocked from school, blocked from working, no benefits or services to help you and vilified as a result of your new title.

It’s actually easier than that. Just find yourself surplus to requirements, get a promotion,  get ripped off by a university or get stiffed by your employer. You can even be labelled an overstayer and deported because the immigration department takes too long to process your visa.

Overstayer has become a useful term. In the past immigration would listen to each situation and take a sensible, compassionate approach. This appears to have stopped with some pretty inhumane decisions being enforced, but no one will raise a cry because it’s a good thing to get rid of overstayers, right?.

Migration to New Zealand has become like a high trapeze act. The trouble is that the people flying through the process don’t realise that the safety net has been removed. Just one tiny issue can see an applicant labelled overstayer overnight and given the stark choice to leave New Zealand or be deported.

Who does this affect?
The Immigration department will tell you that temporary visas are just that, temporary and should not be expected to be anything else. But in saying this they are ignoring their own research which confirms the vital link between temporary visas and permanent status:

“More than 8 out of every 10 people approved permanent residence in New Zealand have previous experience as a temporary migrant.”

 – source 

So the people affected are the ones who “add an estimated $1.9 billion to the New Zealand economy every year” according to Dr. Jonathan Coleman, the Immigration Minister.

To be taken seriously as a migrant you have to commit to your move, selling up and risking everything for a better life in New Zealand. Increasingly people who come to New Zealand in good faith are losing everything because of aggressive bureaucracy.

Most recently I have been contacted by:

  • a worker who was terrified after his case-officer told him he was in serious trouble because he had taken a promotion at work – his job title was on his visa meaning he had been working illegally; and
  • good friends whose parents have been told they will be deported because immigration has taken three years to process their application under the Parent Category and recently the father (an experienced engineer) lost his job due to the Canterbury earthquake.

So be aware. Anyone moving to New Zealand, working or running a business here without Permanent Residency can very easily become an overstayer literally overnight. Just one slip and they find there was no net.

When Immigration or media use the term ‘overstayer’ remember it might be a very different story than you might think.

(Note: I am not a licensed immigration adviser and this article is not tailored immigration advice).

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Bring back Martyn Payne: take action

May 11, 2011

We believe Martyn, who has invested his life-savings and six years of his life into turning a struggling NZ business into a multi-million dollar business, is not being treated fairly. Please follow the links below to learn more and help take action to highlight this miscarriage of justice.

All it takes is a click of your mouse!

Please don’t just ignore this situation
Every year over 100,000 migrants come to New Zealand in good faith on temporary visas. Martyn Payne has provided massive benefit to New Zealand, but has still been kicked out. He deserves a fair go and so do all migrants on temporary visas.

This case shows that all migrants on temporary visas are vulnerable to bureaucratic mistakes. Officials have to follow rules, but the Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson is supposed to be the safety valve. She has declined to review the case despite having new evidence from a specialist.

Please help us highlight this error and help make the system safer for all business and skilled migrants  on temporary visas.

Find out more
Read about what has happened to Martyn Payne here:
> http://www.move2nz.com/support_martyn_payne.aspx

This page also includes links to news articles and TV news videos about Martyn’s case.

Lend your support
You can help make a difference with just a click of your mouse!

Petition
Take a moment to sign this petition in support of a review of Martyn’s case:
> http://www.move2nz.com/support_martyn_payne.aspx

Send a message to the politicians
You can also use this page to send an email to Kate Wilkinson, the Associate Minister for Immigration and Prime Minister John Key:
> http://www.move2nz.com/support_martyn_payne.aspx

Facebook
If you are a member of facebook please visit and ‘like’ this page:
> Against the deportation of Martyn Payne

Call to action – tell your friends and contacts
If you are a member of any other forums, groups or organisations please post to ask your friends to support this petition.


Why is move2nz involved?
move2nz was created to add cultural and economic benefit to New Zealand through informing and supporting skilled migrants (who bring between $2 billion and $3 billion into the economy every year). Rather than sit on the sidelines we take action in lobbying politicians, highlighting problems and trying to improve the ‘system’.

We see this case as a real threat to New Zealand business and believe Kate Wilkinson is sending a message to entrepreneurs around the world that they are not safe or welcome in New Zealand. This error needs to be corrected and the system reviewed to provide greater security for skilled migrants looking to invest their skills and hard earned cash into New Zealand.

Martyn has played by the rules and deserves more than a bureaucratic decision to kick him out based on the medical opinion of someone who has never met him.

Shame on Wilkinson: Martyn Payne deported

May 7, 2011

“We’ve taken your money, used your skills, now bugger off!”

Shame on you Kate WilkinsonThis was a headline Tammy and I reluctantly wrote in 2009. I’m sorry to say we now have to dust it off because it is more relevant than ever.

Back in 2009 changes in immigration department practice lead inhumane treatment of several hundred skilled migrants who had come to New Zealand in good faith. Blocked from taking up skilled work they had been offered they were effective kicked out of the country.

Tammy and I resorted to this headline when our reports were ignored by the Immigration Minister and his officials. I was even accused of being an unlicensed immigration adviser by the Associate Immigration Minister’s office for drawing her attention to the plight of one German family who was reduced to sleeping on our office floor.

After my angry reply Kate Wilkinson’s office apologised but this accusation was later used by the Immigration Advisers Authority as one of the justifications for their attack on me which effectively silenced my criticism and lead to the closure of our unique and free migrant support service.

Now Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson appears to be sending this message to entrepreneurs interested in investing in New Zealand businesses. Another nail in the coffin of New Zealand’s international reputation as a migration destination.

Martyn Payne
Martyn’s story has been told by 3news in articles herehere and here. John Campbell has covered Martyn’s plight on Campbell live here and here.

To explain, Martyn moved to New Zealand in 2005 on a Long Term Business Visa. His medical spotted a heart condition but Martyn had and fully recovered from successful surgery.

Given the ‘all-clear’ by immigration Martyn invested every penny he had ($700,000) and six years of his life turning a struggling Northland garage into a thriving business turning over $2 million per year.

Along the way Martyn was joined by his children and grandchildren, nominated for a business award and his garage became the centre of his local community providing employment and generating prosperity for a small town through the recession.

New Zealand’s immigration system runs through good rules put in place to protect this country. One of those rules relates to health: anyone likely to cost NZ a lot of money will not be allowed to stay. Its a good rule there for good reason, but needs to be applied with sense and compassion.

Recent medicals showed that Martyn had fibrillation. Treatment is simple, low cost and a heart specialist confirmed that Martyn was unlikely to need expensive surgery.

Martyn had offered to pay for any tests and had appealed to Kate Wilkinson to alter the immigration departments decision that he would cost the health service too much money. Wilkinson had a copy of the specialists report confirming this was not the case but did nothing.

Martyn was recently deported, leaving behind his business, family, staff and a hugely supportive community.

Taking action
FacebookI believe Martyn Payne has given a lot to New Zealand and deserves a fair go. Tammy and I have started a facebook campaign to raise awareness called Against the deportation of Martyn Payne.

Please read about this case and if you agree with me join this group to add your support.

Take a stand for New Zealand
Because of inhumane decisions New Zealand is losing the international battle for skills and investment. If this continues more and more NZ jobs will be lost, more companies will fail to reach their potential and NZ’s recovery from this recession will be further slowed.

Martyn Payne’s case shows exactly what is at stake here: a thriving NZ business, jobs, community and family. This needs to change. NZ immigration was working well before Dr. Coleman and Kate Wilkinson took office but is now a broken and twisted wreck. This is not the fault of the staff who (mostly) do a great job, but of the politicians.

Careful and sensible management of immigration would ensure only benefits from migration for New Zealand: increasing jobs without competition with kiwis.

By restoring pre-2009 processes and migrant numbers (which the cabinet have publicly agreed) I believe we would see money flooding in to local businesses, creating jobs and building prosperity for this country.

This case and the case of hundreds of others is not what New Zealand is about as John Campbell’s ‘Caravan of complaint’ has shown. New Zealand and our immigration service is being shamed by the heartless actions of Kate Wilkinson.