Archive for October, 2011

Immigration New Zealand: weird selections continue

October 26, 2011

Please note that I am not a licensed immigration adviser and the following is intended as general immigration commentary, not personal advice.

Big Skilled Migrant Selection for migrants with Work Experience

Between 45,000 and 50,000 visas are granted every year through New Zealand’s Permanent Residency programme. The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) is the route for skilled workers and their families, making up approximately 58% of this programme.

Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for residency through the SMC go into a pool and every fortnight the immigration department pull a number of these out for processing to mee their annual quota of between 25,000 and 27,000 SMC applications approved.

In Move2NZ’s October newsletter I reported on the smallest Skilled Migrant selection made since the programme was introduced in December 2005 with just 496 applications collected for processing.

Falling numbers
From January 2007 through to May 2009 on average 774 SMC applications were selected each fortnight, but numbers have been falling since to an average of just 563 through 2011. This drop has lead to the immigration department failing to meet its quota with just 21,212 applications approved, well short of the 25,000 minimum as can be seen from the graph aside.

With the SMC being such an important part of the Residency programme this has been a major cause of the entire programme to fail in meeting targets – in 2010/11 just 40,737 applications were approved – well short of the minimum 45,000.

SMC applications approved and declinedLooking at applications over the past five years through the SMC stream you can see why this is.

The graph aside shows in blue the applications approved and in red the applications declined. Because of the significant drop in applications accepted through 2010/11 the department was never likely to meet the quota. Numbers have continued to fall since.

Government sources state that this is because of a drop in interest from migrants, however I have seen no evidence to support this and the number of applications sitting for months in the pool has risen to almost record numbers.

Although the Minister has confirmed there is no intent to reduce Residency numbers or change the current practices this process of declining numbers has continued through 2011/12.

Three months in to the year (which started on 1st July) 2011/12 numbers selected are already down 7 percent on last year, and approvals are down 11 percent. Crunching the numbers and using patterns from the past five years I believe I have generated an accurate projection of the total number of EOIs through the Skilled Migrant Category likely to be selected and approved in 2011/12.

This figure of just 19,417 applications likely to be approved is even further away from the 25,000 minimum quota.

October 5th Selection
As if the immigration department heard last newsletter’s questions the selection made on October 5th was unusual. For one thing the number of applications pulled from the pool jumped to 628 – not enough to make much of a difference over the year (unless selections of this size continue) but a rise none the less. We’ll see if this trend continues.

The second and most surprising thing about this selection was where those extra numbers came from. People reading my commentaries on this blog and move2nz will have heard me talking about the seven groups that EOIs fall into (see table below), and applicants with EOIs in group 4 (those without a job offer and claiming 15 points for work experience) will be celebrating.

Nearly 5 times the 2011 average were pulled from the pool in one go. You have to go right back to January 2007 to see anything like this ever happening before.

For so many applications without job offers to be selected gives hope to many applicants who are not able to travel to New Zealand to obtain offers of work, widening New Zealand’s pool of available talent and putting a little equality back into the process. We’ll keep watching to see if this trend continues.

Here are the numbers from the latest selection:

EOIs selected on Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Group Selection criteria Onshore Offshore Total
1 140 points or more with job offer 278 34 312
2 140 points or more without job offer 6 61 67
3 100 – 135 points with job offer 74 6 80
4 100 – 135 points with 15 points for work experience 2 167 169
5 100 – 135 points with 10 points for work experience 0 0 0
6 100 – 135 points with 10 points for qualification 0 0 0
7 100 – 135 points without bonus points 0 0 0
Total EOIs with job offers 352 40 392
Total EOIs without job offers 8 228 236
Total EOIs 360 268 628

More reports to come on what is becoming a completely unpredictable immigration system.

Mike Bell
site architect, move2nz.com

Shocking update on Charmain Timmons’ fight against deportation

October 19, 2011

Why should Charmain Timmons and her children be deported from NZ because of crimes against her? Take action and sign the petition today.

As many of you will know move2nz has been supporting Charmain Timmons and her children through a campaign including facebook and a petition to help them avoid deportation from New Zealand which has attracted 1,042 signatures.

Background
Charmain arrived in New Zealand with her husband and two young children in December 2007. Many people migrate because of a problem and sadly some bring that problem with them. Charmain’s secret was that her husband was physically and emotionally abusing her.

In February 2009 the family was granted Permanent Residency in principle but the abuse was getting worse. Charmain asked for help and found the strength to leave the relationship. She got a protection order and started trying to build her life back again, moving and eventually beginning a degree course to become a much needed social worker.

Find out more/take action
You can help, please click on the links below to find out more:
‘Like’ the Facebook campaign
Sign the petition

Charmain’s now ex-husband breached that protection order and was convicted nine times spending six weeks in prison before leaving New Zealand.

Then a bombshell – in a crazy turn of events Charmain was told that because of her husband’s convictions as the principle applicant her Residency was to be revoked. The immigration department told her she wasn’t needed in New Zealand and should leave. Charmain asked again for help, but was poorly advised leading to deportation proceedings against her. Charmain’s final hope was an appeal to the Associate Minister for Immigration, Kate Wilkinson.

In the meantime Charmain’s ex-husband has been allowed to re-enter New Zealand on a two year visitor’s visa as he now has a New Zealand born girlfriend. While Charmain is being kicked out because of these crimes against her the perpetrator is bizarrely being allowed to stay.

move2nz became involved when we saw the headline Government tried to deport bashed wife. For Charmain and her children, now little Kiwis, to be deported because of the crimes against her seemed totally unfair. As we are not licensed immigration advisers it is illegal for us to help directly by advocating for Charmain but we had to do something and so we started our campaign which has now collected 1,040 signatures.

Action since July
I have been in constant contact with Charmain for the last couple of months, exchanging over 90 emails, but there has been no news to report while the Minister reviews the appeal. Charmain and her children wait but in the meantime a government case manager has been communicating with her.

The case manager advised Charmain to start a work visa application, leave the country and then apply to re-enter New Zealand to take up work. Charmain saw that there was no guarantee of being able to get back into New Zealand and resisted this, especially while her appeal was still being heard by the Minister.

What Charmain has told me recently sent me reeling and I had to update about this incredible twist.

Punish the victim – support the abuser
First Charmain’s ex-husband breached the protection order again and told her that he had been meeting with her immigration case manager and now knew everything about her private case. The case manager in question has denied this, however Charmain’s ex-husband does appear to know all about her private dealings with the immigration department.

Then Charmain received evidence that her ex-husband had applied to the family court for custody of their children should Charmain be forced to leave New Zealand temporarily as the immigration department had pressured.

Finally she was sent papers confirming that her case manager had told her ex-husband that he could apply for Residency, and if he did receive custody the case manager could lift the deportation order on the children and issue them with Student Visas instead. The same case manager who had adamantly stated he could not do this for Charmain.

So if the children are in their mother’s care, the innocent victim of family violence, they will be deported from New Zealand with her, back to a country they barely remember because of their father’s crimes. But if their care is passed to the man who abused their mother and has served time in prison as a result, they will be allowed to stay permanently in New Zealand with him.

This situation appears to be backwards, punishing the victim of violence while supporting the abuser.

A number of questions have now been raised about the way this case is being handled and the message New Zealand is sending to the world regarding attitudes to family violence and the rights of children.

What do you think about this?
Post your comments, or sign the petition to support Charmain and her children.

Skilled Migrant Category: smallest selection ever

October 8, 2011

Please note that I am not a licensed immigration adviser and the following is intended as general immigration commentary, not personal advice.


SMC selections
Fig 1 – SMC Selections
(Click for enlargement)

In December 2005 a points system was introduced to help the immigration department select suitable applicants for Permanent Residency under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC).

Since then migrants scoring more than 100 points have been able to enter an application (their Expression of Interest or EOI) for Residency.

Applications go into a ‘pool’ and wait for a maximum of 6 months at which point they expire and drop out again. If this happens applicants don’t get their money back and so entering an application is effectively a gamble of the $400 fee.

Each fortnight the immigration department pulls a number of applications from that pool using strict criteria to meet the largest part of the Permanent Residence quota agreed each year by government.

As reported on move2nz many times (see links below), the numbers being selected each fortnight have been dropping over the past two years without any explanation from government. The agreed Residency quota has stood rock steady at 45,000 per year since 2001, but as move2nz predicted the immigration department failed to meet this quota last year for the first time ever.

Against this backdrop of what I would call immigration cuts, 21st September 2011 saw the smallest selection ever made by the department with less than 500 applications pulled from the pool.

A period of stability
Between January 2006 (when the first selection was made under this programme) and December 2008 the number selected each fortnight by the department stayed steady at around 770 to ensure that the Residency quota of beween 27,000 and 30,000 a year for the Skilled/Business stream was met.

What this meant was that anyone entering an Expression of Interest had a chance of being selected. Applications scoring 140 points or more are automatically pulled from the pool, but others scoring less with bonus points for employment, qualifications and work experience were also selected. Even those without any bonus points at all were regularly selected.

The winds of change
Although no official changes were made to quotas or policy, from January 2009 a series of changes were implemented which had a huge effect on the Skilled Migrant Category which makes up around 60 percent of all Residency applications.

As can be seen in the graph above (fig 1) in 2008 the average number of EOIs pulled from the pool each fortnight was 774. By 2009 this had dropped to 705 and in 2010 the average was right down to just 557. As a result 5,441 less applications (or nearly 15,000 less people) were selected for processing in 2010.

2011 was tracking along pretty much the same as 2010 until September when numbers dropped again.

Smallest selection ever
On 21st September the lowest number ever was selected from the pool with just 496 applications being collected for processing.

Government reports claim that immigration numbers have fallen because of less demand (less jobs, less migration globally and the Canterbury quakes scaring people off).


The SMC Pool
Fig 2 – The pool
(Click for enlargement)

The claim that there has been less interest from migrants is interesting as when this latest and smallest ever selection was made the pool was full to bursting with 1,729 EOIs available.

In fact after a low in September 2009 of ‘just’ 830 available, the number of applications floating patiently in the pool has been rising since December 2009 (see fig 2 aside) as I mentioned in a March 2010 report.

The wave pattern showed in the graph aside (with peaks followed by troughs) clearly shows thousands of applications being entered and then spending so long in the pool that they expire without being selected.

Getting answers
I am deeply concerned by the current lack of information and transparency on this issue.

Putting quotas and selection criteria aside, in my opinion migrants should be informed of what the position is before they enter their application. They should be able to expect a transparent, fair and reasonably predictable selection system to ensure that they are not committing to moving to New Zealand without a reasonable expectation of success.

Instead what we have seen over the past two years is that well over 4,000 people are estimated to have paid government fees to enter applications which had little or no chance of ever being selected – that’s an estimated $1.8 million in fees collected from migrants in the skilled/business stream alone who met selection criteria but had no chance of being selected.

To find out what is going on and why the immigration department appear to have stopped working towards the government’s agreed quota for Permanent Residents I wrote to the Minister of Immigration, Dr. Jonathan Coleman on 20th July. It took a while but I have now received a reply, however this directly contradicts information previously provided by the Minister and so I need to clarify details before I update on this.

I have also written to Dr. Coleman’s office to ask where authors of the recent reports on immigration trends got their figures from. This request was never acknowledged and so I was forced to turn it into an Official Information Act request on 16th September. This at least should mean I have an answer soon. I’ll update when I know more.

Mike
Site architect, move2nz.com


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