Archive for January, 2013

Brash supports hiring illegal migrants?!

January 21, 2013

This week we saw an bizarre call from Don Brash, a man who has been a “centre-right”‘ politician (leader of New Zealand’s National Party while in opposition, and the ACT party) and also Governor of New Zealand’s Reserve Bank.

According to media reports Mr Brash said

“I want local and central government to show more urgency on the rebuild of Christchurch and if that means taking a lenient attitude toward people whose immigration status might not be up to scratch, in the peculiar situation which Christchurch faces, I would be all in favour of that,”

Looking at Mr Brash’s comments I am struck by two questions:

  1. What does Mr Brash know of the rebuild from his vantage point 1,000 kilometres away?
  2. What does Mr Brash know about New Zealand’s immigration system and the potential effects of his idea?

The answer to both questions is clearly “not much”.

The rebuild speed

The amount of work to be done in Canterbury and Christchurch is certainly immense. After nearly 1,000 buildings large and small have been demolished there is still quite a way to go. I look out at this every day as Christchurch is my home and I work in the CBD, but what I see are people working incredible hours – New Zealanders and people coming from around the world to do amazing things.

Hiring illegal immigrants is hardly likely to speed up Gerry Brownlee or improve anything at all.

Yes it would be nice if it could all be finished tomorrow, but those of us who live on planet earth know we are here for the long-haul. Personally I prefer quality work which will last (and perhaps one or two buildings which aren’t tilt-slab construction) over ‘get it over quickly’.

New Zealand’s immigration system

New Zealand has a highly robust immigration system which has served this country well, ensuring that migrants coming to New Zealand add more to this country than they take from it. The last census for example in 2006 confirmed that migrants added $3.3 billion profit to the New Zealand economy after all costs.

Our immigration system ensures people coming to work here are healthy, can speak English, are of good character and have skills New Zealand really needs.

What does this say about illegal immigrants?

Some skilled migrants can unexpectedly and unfortunately become unlawful in New Zealand (and a good part of my work is in restoring skilled workers to lawful status) but in my experience these migrants play by the rules. If they can provide a good reason why they should be allowed to stay they are allowed to regain legal status by trained immigration officials who weigh all aspects of the case before making a decision.

Mr Brash’s idea would remove this protection for New Zealand, hamstringing officials and forcing them to turn a blind eye to people likely to cause loss.

Pros and Cons

I guess in fairness we should weigh the pros and cons of Mr Brash’s “idea”:

Cons – this would

  • completely undermine New Zealand’s immigration system, put in place to protect this nation;
  • encourage many more people to come to New Zealand illegally;
  • discourage highly skilled migrants from coming here to help with the rebuild;
  • reduce the number of jobs available to New Zealanders;
  • reduce training options for New Zealand workers;
  • reduce the quality of work being carried out;
  • increase health and safety risks as well as ACC costs to the New Zealand taxpayer;
  • undermine employment laws and protection for employees;
  • reduce the amount of tax being paid to the New Zealand government;
  • reduce wages in the region for semi and skilled workers;
  • increase the cost to the New Zealand taxpayer who would pick up the tab for health, police and other costs;
  • create breeding grounds for the exploitation of foreign workers;
  • welcome an underclass of people into Christchurch who put nothing into the system but take from it.

Pros – this would

  • increase profits for a small number of companies, CEOs and shareholders.

Summary

Christchurch needs highly skilled and experienced workers to train locals and work in jobs there are no locals available to fill. The rebuild is going well and things are coming together. Yes we could do with better planning and drive at the top, but hiring illegal migrants is hardly like to affect this.

Our current immigration system is providing a huge economic boost to not only the rebuild but the country as a whole and will continue to do so if left alone.

There may have been whispers of illegal workers in Christchurch, but as a licensed immigration adviser based right in the heart of the Garden City I have seen no sign of this.

What I have seen is a majority of employers doing a great job shadowed by a tiny minority of employers trying to manipulate the system to increase profits.

Taking this into consideration I believe the only way to read Brash’s call is that either he is a fool with no idea of what he is saying, or this is a ‘dog-whistle’ for his private agenda, raising fears about immigration. As Mr Brash has shown in the past that ‘dog-whistle’ politics is a specialty I question the motives behind this call which clearly are not in New Zealand’s best interests.

New Work Visa Requirement for Canterbury Employers

January 15, 2013

Employers in Canterbury hiring migrants should be aware of a rule change notified by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), an additional requirement on employers hiring foreign workers to be implemented from 28 January 2013.

Hiring workers who do not have New Zealand citizenship or a residence class visa is relatively straight-forward, however to ensure New Zealand jobs and wages are protected there are a number of checks to be made first.

For example, when offering work for occupations not listed by the immigration department as being ‘in shortage’ employers must be able to show they have made a genuine effort to recruit New Zealand workers first.

January 2013 changes
Previously it has been a useful step in the process of hiring foreign workers to check with Work and Income who undertake a labour market test for the immigration department to ensure there are no suitable or trainable New Zealanders before visa applications are granted.

In addition to current requirements which include advertising vacancies to check there are no suitable or trainable New Zealanders before offering work to applicants requiring a Work Visa this change will make it mandatory for employers in the Canterbury, Selwyn and Waimakiriri regions to register most vacancies with the new Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub (CSEH).

Exceptions to this rule include the most highly skilled occupations and those already listed by the immigration department on the Long Term, Immediate or Canterbury Skill Shortage Lists.

Occupations are categorised into five ‘skill levels’ by the immigration department and this requirement affects any offer of work for an occupation classified at skill level 3,4 or 5 – the majority of occupations. As examples these occupations include:

  • Level 3: welders, secretaries and motor mechanics;
  • Level 4: truck drivers, clerical workers and receptionists;
  • Level 5: Labourers, hospitality and retail workers.

CSEH is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Ministry of Social Development and the Tertiary Education Commission intended to link employers with job seekers more quickly.

Details of this change can be found on the INZ website here: Visa rule helps streamline process for employers and ensures Kiwis first in line for jobs


I hope this move will speed up processing, but am concerned.

When labour market testing through Work and Income was introduced in 2008/09 processing times for Work Visas significantly increased (from as little as one day to as much as 70 working days).

The system has now settled down very well and over recent months the Work Visa applications I have lodged with the Christchurch immigration office have been processed in between one and three working days.

Hopefully the CSEH will be fully resourced so that it can keep up with the workload and heavy demand so that it does not slow what is currently a good process down.

Mike

– site architect, move2nz.com
– licensed immigration adviser, New Zealand Immigration & Settlement Services

Canterbury Skills Shortage List

January 12, 2013

This article from move2nz is a little out of date now, relating to a November 2012 change, but is worth adding here as it affects a large number of people I see every day in Christchurch.

The idea of the Canterbury Skills Shortage List (CSSL) is to highlight occupations in which Canterbury employers are struggling to find skilled and experienced staff.

It is one of three Essential Skills In Demand lists, the others of which are the Immediate Skill Shortage List and the Long Term Skill Shortage List.

As the Canterbury rebuild progresses the kind of skills needed will change and the list is reviewed and updated every three months to keep up with this. Initially skills most in demand were in engineering, surveying and planning, but following the November update there is clearly an increasing need for trades staff with the following additions:

  • Solid Plasterer (333212)
  • Painting Trades Worker (332211)
  • Wall and Floor Tiler (333411)
  • Fibrous Plasterer (333211)
  • Brick layer (333111)
  • Carpenter (331212)
  • Roof Tiler (333311)
  • Joiner (331213)
  • Glazier (333111)
  • Floor Finisher (332111)
  • Stonemason (331112)
  • Drainlayer (334113)
  • Carpenter and Joiner (331211)

I have certainly seen a lot more trades workers coming through and have been busy all month advising people about requirements, helping them get all of the paperwork they need and putting together their Work Visa applications.

How does this affect me?

There is a ‘New Zealanders first’ process in New Zealand meaning that foreign workers can only be considered for jobs if there are no NZ citizens and residents available. Getting good information on your employability before getting on a plane is very important – imagine arriving only to find that there are dozens of unemployed people in your field meaning your chances of getting hired are close to nil.

The CSSL helps to create some certainty as it flags occupations where there is a real shortage of local workers. Not only does it mean that if your occupation is on the list and you meet the requirements (see below) you are very likely to find work, it also means you should not face the usual barriers in getting a Work Visa.

The main barrier in getting a Work Visa is the Labour Market Test – basically any employer wanting to hire you has to prove they have made a genuine effort to check for New Zealanders before offering you the job – for example by advertising the role, checking with the unemployment office (Work and Income) and providing evidence any kiwis who applied were unsuitable. This can add a lot of paperwork to your Work Visa application, delays for you as an applicant, and increases costs for the employer.

The good news is that if your occupation is on the CSSL and you are suitably qualified (see below) the employer should not need to check for New Zealanders first before offering you a job – making the whole process more transparent, predictable and safer.

Qualified and experienced

Before assuming you can use the CSSL to get work in Canterbury it is vital to check that Immigration New Zealand consider you to be ‘skilled’. This is a specific definition which relates to your occupation and also your ability to work in that occupation.

The information you need is held in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations or ANZSCO. This defines:

  1. The skill rating of each occupation – between 5(low) and 1 (high); and
  2. How experienced you need to be to do the job competently.

The example I always use is brain surgery: yes it’s a skilled job, but they won’t let me do it without the right qualification. Luckily for most occupations a number of years experience can be substituted for formal qualifications.

For example for ‘Joiner’ the requirement in New Zealand is:

  • NZ Register Level 4 qualification (for example a trade apprenticeship); or
  • At least three years of relevant experience.

It is important to confirm at this stage that the second point refers to relevant work experience you can prove as you will need to include that proof with your application.

All of the requirements for the CSSL are shown in a downloadable PDF you can find hereand may need to be looked up on the ANZSCO website. Just type the reference code (for example 331213 for ‘Joiner’) in the search box and click on the resulting link. You’ll see the ANZSCO requirement under “Indicative Skill Level”.

Watch for additional requirements
It is important to note that some of the occupations listed on the CSSL have additional requirements above those listed in ANZSCO.

For example Glazier (333111) starts with the ANZSCO requirement (which is the same as for joiner) but then adds:

… AND evidence that the work will be done under the supervision of an appropriately Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) who is licensed to supervise relevant Restricted Building Work (RBW) OR that the duties of the Glazier will not include RBW.

Knowing what these requirements are in advance is important so that you won’t be caught out and declined a visa application.

Work Visas

You have probably noted that I have been talking about the CSSL in respect of Work Visas rather than residency. That’s because the CSSL only helps with applications for temporary Work Visas. It doesn’t give you any additional benefit for residency beyond helping you get a skilled job in New Zealand.

Once you have a Work Visa you may well be able to apply for residency if that’s what you want to do, but be aware the requirements are more strict and you will need ongoing employment, not just a short term contract.

I hope this information is useful and will help many people assess their eligibility before looking for work in New Zealand.

Mike Bell

– site architect, move2nz.com
– licensed immigration adviser, New Zealand Immigration & Settlement Services


This article was posted in the move2nz.com December 2012 newsletter and is reproduced here by permission.

Fully qualified

January 12, 2013

This blog has been a little quiet since September. Apologies to regular readers, we’re now be back up and running.

In July I started the brand new Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice course. This together with running a full-time immigration consultancy and the community website move2nz meant that something had to give as I needed to sleep sometime.

GCNZIA

I am very pleased to have now completed the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice.

This level 7 course was developed specifically for the Immigration Advisers Authority by the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in collaboration with the University of Waikato in New Zealand and Victoria University in Australia to ensure graduate advisers are fully qualified with a high level of competence.

The purpose of this qualification is to provide consumers of immigration advice with individuals who have attained sufficient knowledge, practical skills and attitudes to meet the Immigration Advisers Authority requirements for licensing as a New Zealand Immigration Advisor.

Graduates will be able to critically review and evaluate immigration matters to provide immigration advice in accordance with the competencies mandated by the Immigration Advisers Authority.

I jumped at the chance to take this course as soon as it was announced as I had been waiting since the introduction of immigration adviser licensing for a qualification to be created. Studying full-time on top of everything else was tough and the course was very in-depth, but it has been absolutely worth it.

The course of study covered immigration operational instructions in detail as you would expect to ensure competency but also put considerable emphasis on ethics and a deep understanding of the licensed immigration advisers code of conduct and how this affects everything a licensed immigration adviser does – ensuring:

  • each immigration adviser’s technical competence has been tested;
  • they have the tools to ensure they can run their businesses professionally and ethically;
  • greater awareness and closer working with the Immigration department.

On 12 December 2012 alphabetical listings worked in my favour and I became the first person in the world to be awarded this qualification.

Right now there are only 42 other people in the world to have graduated from this course and, as many of these are not yet licensed immigration advisers, I am the only licensed immigration adviser in the South Island to be formally qualified with the GCNZIA.

That’s pretty cool :).

Changing the immigration industry

What will this qualification mean for the industry? We will have to wait and see, but I expect that a level 7 qualification with strong concentration on ethical behaviour and the Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct is likely to be used by migrant consumers are an indication of who they can trust.

Sadly consumers will not be able to see on the register of licensed immigration advisers who holds the GCNZIA, but all you have to do is ask ;).

I am very hopeful that this qualification and stronger application of the code of conduct will ensure more migrant consumers have an ethical and competent adviser helping them move to New Zealand. A big step forward for immigration adviser licensing.

Mike

site architect, move2nz.com
licensed immigration adviser 201200212