Posts Tagged ‘migrate’

A year in immigration: Residency selections

January 21, 2011

Mike Bell, site architectPlease note:
I am not a licensed immigration adviser and the following is intended to be general discussion and commentary. It is not immigration advice and should not be used as such.

New Zealand Residence Programme
Fortnightly Selection Statistics – 2009 and 2010
Selections are made every fortnight and usually I would discuss numbers for a single selection, however since the start of 2010 the selections show little change.

So instead I’ve put together a comparison between the whole of 2010 against the previous year to give you an idea of trends in EOI (Expression of Interest) selections.

The Immigration department’s year runs from July, not January. However the wholesale change in selections started from January 2010, so we’ll look at the calendar year as this is quite illuminating!

Applications selected
Anyone reading my newsletters on a regular basis through 2010 would have heard me mention that the number of applications being selected had dropped. Public announcements from the Minister of Immigration stated that quotas were unchanged and confirmed the importance of maintaining immigration levels for growth and income.

Individuals Selected
Individuals Selected

Looking at the numbers for the whole year it’s pretty clear now as there was a 16.9 percent drop in selections when compared to 2009.

That’s 3,229 less applications into the system or 7,817 people over the year. To put it another way, on average 157 less applications were pulled from the pool (or 376 people) every fortnight, a sizeable drop.

This is potentially a problem for the department as the minimum quota for Residency under the Skilled Migrant Category (shown in red on the graph above) is 27,000 (based on skilled migration making up 60% of Residence).

While 30,454 applications were selected the immigration department are declining more than ever with a massive 13.84% of Residency applications through 2010 closed out. This would leave only 26,238 making it through the system, falling well short of the threshhold.

This should mean that the numbers being selected will need to rise before July to make up the shortfall of over 700 people.

Decline rates have climbed successively over the past four years, up from 12.02% in 2009, 10.24% in 2008 and 8.4% in 2007.

EOIs Selected
EOIs Selected

With or Without Job Offers
Comparing selections made through 2009 and 2010 with a view to which claimed points for current work or a job offer highlights an immediate and significant difference.

While the number of selections including points for a job or job offer remained largely the same (with just a 6 percent drop), selections for applicants without a job plummeted by 44 percent.

This perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise as New Zealand continues to wallow in recession without any real progress. The Immigration department is clearly favouring people with job offers and this confirms a good number of people are still being successful gaining job offers which I find encouraging.

It does not however explain the rise in applications being declined. Anecdotally the application of market testing to applications (based on inaccurate data from the Work and Income database) is scuppering many applications on the basis there are New Zealanders to take the role.

Unfortunately in many cases these NZ individuals do not actually exist leaving migrants and employers out in the cold and unable to protect themselves from what has become an extremely unpredicatable system.

Selection groups
When comparing selections I often refer to the seven groups immigration uses to categorise the figures.

EOIs Selected by GroupThese seven groups run from ‘140 points or more with a job offer’ (or “this way sir”) through to what I call ‘Other’ (EOIs with a high points total less than 140, but without points for employment, work experience or qualifications).
In 2009 there was a fairly good spread across all seven groups meaning that any applications entered (and meeting published criteria) had a fair chance of being selected.

EOIs Selected by Group
EOIs Selected by Group

Looking at numbers for 2010 show that a different pattern emerged that has not been published or even mentioned to migrants paying their money to apply. There were increases in all five of the ‘top’ groups with a big percentage increase in group 1 showing that there was only a small drop in real terms of very high scoring applications.

However only 16 applications were made for group six – down from 1,421 in 2009 – and those were pulled from the pool in the very last selection of the year on 15th December.

Not a single application from group 7 was made.

This raises an interesting question as it suggests that anyone who entered an application in 2010 falling into group seven (i.e. no additional points for job, work experience or a qualification in an area of absolute shortage) had no chance at all of being selected!

I don’t have access to numbers of people entering such applications, but I expect they might be surprised to find out they never actually stood a chance despite meeting published criteria and paying the requisite fee. I’ll be asking the immigration department whether a change has been made in selection criteria and will report back if they answer me.

2009 2010 % diff
1) 140 points + job offer 8,495 (49.7%) 7,909 (57%) +7.3%
2) 140 points without job offer 1,176 (6.9%) 1,300 (9.4%) +2.5%
3) 100-135 points + job offer 2,600 (15.2%) 2,572 (18.5%) +3.3%
4) 15 points for work experience* 1,204 (7%) 1,284 (9.3%) +2.2%
5) 10 points for work experience* 966 (5.6%) 792 (5.7%) +0.1%
6) 10 points for qualification* 1,421 (8.3%) 16 (0.1%) -8.2%
7) Other 1,241 (7.3%) 0 (0%) -7.3%

(*Work experience and qualifications in an area of absolute skill shortage)

Figures used in this report are taken from Immigration New Zealand information released through the INZ website.


Calling all teachers

January 10, 2011

Are you a teacher having trouble getting your qualifications recognised in New Zealand?

I would like to build a picture of what is happening and collect first-hand reports.

It appears that some overseas (from the UK only I believe but prove me wrong) teaching qualifications are not accepted by NZQA. Although introduced over a decade ago NZQA appears not to have updated it’s database.

In the meantime I am hearing more and more stories of teachers expecting to be able to find work only to realise they are completely unable to operate in their field of expertise. Rather than watching the number of experienced and qualified teachers working in supermarkets increase I’d like to do something about this.

Making a difference
My intention is to put together a report on this and generate pressure through various means (direct, political and through the media) to have this situation addressed properly.

If you have first-hand experience of this situation or information to help me please send me a private message or post on this blog.

Thanks for your help!


A meeting with the Immigration Advisers Authority

December 24, 2010

TV3 interview July 2009

TV3 interview July 2009

Many reading this blog may not be aware of move2nz’s fight for justice, but it still continues.

I have been pretty quiet on this issue since my last update in July titled Happy Anniversary, only mentioning our fight in my October article move2nz in the news when TVNZ ran an update on what had happened.

I promised an update when something happened and, well something has happened – things are starting to get very interesting!

What’s it all about?
For anyone coming across this topic for the first time you might not realise that move2nz used to be much more than the website Until July 2009 Tammy and I ran and funded a range of unique services including a Migrant Centre in Christchurch offering free settlement support to several thousand familes each year.

But in July 2009 everything except the website was closed because the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) served a notice on me: a bombshell which rocked move2nz. In a nutshell the notice told me that I had broken the law (by presenting myself as a licensed adviser and providing immigration advice) and could go to jail for seven years if I did it again.

No smoke without fire
I had been in the middle of a media campaign through print, radio and TV to draw attention to what the immigration department was doing to what turned out to be nearly a thousand families – kicking them out of the country.

Naturally I asked what I was alleged to have done and unbelievably have been fighting ever since for an answer as the IAA just wouldn’t tell me. In self defence we had to close our Centre and cancel our overseas Seminars until we got to the truth.

This was devastating to move2nz as many people just assumed the IAA were correct. This included not only businesses but also Immigration department staff we had been working with for years.

Many people just assumed there was ‘no smoke without fire’ and said it served me right.

Getting to the truth
It’s been a long hard road fighting for 18 months to get information from the IAA. When they wouldn’t reply to me last year I asked for a copy of their file on me to see if I could work out what I was supposed to have done.

The IAA withheld nearly all (87%) of the file and I was forced to complain in October 2009 to the government’s watchdog the Ombudsman to ask for the documents. Of course after I complained the Registrar of the IAA refused to meet with me leaving this the only way to get information.

Owing to pressure from the Chief Ombudsman the IAA have gradually been forced to hand the information over bit by bit and this week we received the Ombudsman’s final report which upholds nearly all of my complaints. The Authority couldn’t block us any more and had to send us the information we needed.

Finally we understand
It made for interesting reading I can tell you and we were finally able to confirm our suspicians that the Authority had no basis to state I had broken the law.

Our case was strengthened when we asked for papers from the office of the Minister of Immigration which showed that important information had never been reported to the Minister, the evidence collected “circumstantial at best” and the reason for sending the original notice “flawed”.

So that was it – the Authority couldn’t tell me how I had broken the law because I hadn’t! So why the hell hadn’t they said so? From the files we could see that when the Authority had been told we would have to stop running our services to avoid prosecution until they told us what was going the team leader had actually directed the ‘investigator’ not to answer!

Enough’s enough
I wrote to the Registrar of the Authority Barry Smedts listing in date order the failures of the department he was responsible for in handling this case. To ensure the Minister knew exactly what was going on I sent him a copy of the letter and also sent copies to three MPs who know about the case and two reporters who have run stories about the case – Lincoln Tan of the NZ Herald and Kim Vinnel of TVNZ.

Within a week the Minister wrote to tell me that we had what we had been trying to get for a year: a meeting with the IAA. I have to hand it to Jonathan Coleman, although I have been critcising virtually everything he has done since he took the job in November 2008 he came through with this.

Meeting with the IAA
Tammy and I knew we had to be ready and prepared. In fact we spent several days preparing for the meeting – cross-referencing everything and putting together a set of questions which would leave us in no doubt as to what had happened and why.

We also asked our lawyer to accompany us for legal advice and asked Hon Lianne Dalziel, MP for Christchurch East to lend her considerable expertise to the discussion. As Lianne, a long time supporter of move2nz’s work in helping skilled migrants, was the Minister of Immigration who started off the legislation which created the IAA her attendance was an incredible help.

The meeting was held on Tuesday 21st December with Barry Smedts (IAA Registrar), George Mason (acting Deputy Chief Executive, Legal and International Group), and Catherine Albiston (IAA Senior Adviser Operational Policy). A conversation with Catherine had actually been the reason we got a meeting last year with another senior member of the IAA

Unfortunately the meeting had to be confidential to ensure frank discussion so I can’t give you a blow by blow account of what happened during the 4½ hours.

A great result
Suffice it to say that I got to ask some serious questions and put the Authority under the spotlight. Tammy got to tell the Authority staff just how massively this travesty has hurt us emotionally and financially – it’s not much fun to live in fear of losing everything including your home for a whole year.

Lianne did a fanastic job in keeping the meeting positive and moving forwards to a suitable resolution. Leroy our lawyer did a great job just being there as it turned out he had flu but had come because we needed him! I must admit that I was impressed by Catherine who was extremely competent and also with George Mason who handled this difficult situation extremely well.

I’m not sure what I am allowed to say at this stage, but Tammy and I were delighted with the progress made. We’re not finished yet, there is a way to go, but we have many of the answers we were looking for and the Authority will be putting together a public statement about the findings of the meeting to be released in the New Year.

Thanks to everyone who has sent messages of support to keep us going through this difficult time, especially our amazing friends Kim and George who were the reason we made it through last Christmas. Thanks to Lianne and many other people behind the scenes including Jim Anderton our local MP who have given us advice and support.

After living a nightmare for 18 months Tammy and I both feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off us. We would celebrate but we’re too tired.

What this does mean is that 2011 is going to be great year for move2nz and we hope to be able to lend our support to the IAA to help them get the rogue licensed immigration advisers closed down. I’d call that a win-win situation.

Protected Migrants?

November 16, 2010

As reported on move2nz, the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) was launched on 5th May 2008 to “protect migrants and advisers alike“.

“Now we have a licensing regime in place which will not only protect vulnerable migrants, but also enhance the reputation of the industry.”
– Barry Smedts

In May 2009 the legislation for the IAA to police – the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act – came into force requiring advisers operating in New Zealand to be licensed. A year later this requirement was spread to all advisers around the world.

In May 2009 there were 184 advisers registered with the Authority and, noting that some of the worse offenders in the industry were listed as licensed I expressed concern that the IAA’s tagline of “Licensed Professionals = Protected Migrants” would mislead migrants into thinking they were safe.

18 months on we take a look at the steps that have been made to protect migrants.

Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA)

The IAA works to administrate licensing for advisers, investigate complaints against licensed advisers and also prosecute people without licenses who provide tailored immigration advice or present themselves as licensed.

In their October newsletter the IAA reported that they had achieved an additional 316 licenses in the past 18 months with 500 advisers now practicing with a license.

We’ll look at the Authority’s costs and performance against government targets in a future article.

So how has the Authority helped protect migrants? Well, while they protect us from anyone providing tailored immigration advice without a license, they also have gone to great lengths to protect you from immigration information too.

Sources of immigration information are perfectly legal and cover a massive range of subjects connected with migration.

Oddly the first acts taken by the IAA appear to have been attempts to silence blogs, forums and other sources of useful related information. Arguably removing these sources of information and networking, rather than providing protection, made migration more dangerous and difficult for migrants.

Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (IACDT)

While the IAA act as a police force collecting evidence on breaches of the Act the tribunal is the equivalent of the justice system’s court. No Tribunal, no protection for migrants or law-abiding advisers

Appointment of a chairperson for the IACDT was only announced on 13th October 2010 by the Ministers of Justice (Simon Power) and Immigration (Jonathan Coleman), oddly just one day before a TVNZ news report on the IAA and IACDT aired.

The TV report, which covered some of the problems move2nz had had with the IAA, also discussed the Tribunal and the fact that it was not yet hearing cases investigated by the IAA which had been languishing for months.

In addressing this issue Barry Smedts, Registrar of the IAA, had this to say:

“The first complaint was sent to the Tribunal in December last year, and there are now 23 complaints with the Tribunal. We acknowledge that the absence of a chair has created uncertainty for those advisers with outstanding complaints against them.”

Hmm, so protecting advisers (who support the IAA financially through their licensing fees) but no mention of protecting migrants. Mr. Smedts appears to have forgotten half of the IAA tagline “Licensed Professionals = Protected Migrants”.

The effect on migrants
Having spoken to a move2nz member who is one of the we cases waiting for a hearing I discovered they have already been waiting a year. No mention seems to have been made of the months of massive financial and mental suffering experienced by families like this at the hands of a licensed adviser but I am sure you will join Mr. Smedts in expressing sympathy for the uncertainty experienced by their adviser (who turned what should have been a simple migration application into a living nightmare).

In the latest IAA newsletter I found an amazing quote by the IAA Registrar:

“Complaints about licensed advisers is a relatively new aspect of the practical application of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007”

I assume that this was specifically what this department had been set up to do (“investigate and take enforcement action in relation to offences”). It appears that they are now only just getting to grips with this work and, despite their trigger-happy attitude to attacking non-advisers, are a little unnerved by the prospect of actually taking action against advisers they have licensed.

Chocolate teapotSo, after 18 months what is the rating we would give the IAA and IACDT for protecting migrants? The phrase “as useful as a chocolate teapot” comes to mind.


  • The IAA slogan Licensed Advisors = Protected Migrants
  • The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) launched on 5th May 2009
  • There are 500 licensed advisers according to their October 2010 Newsletter
  • The first complaint was sent to the Tribunal in December 2009
  • There are currently 23 complaints with the Tribunal

Minister’s treatment of migrants shames New Zealand

August 26, 2010

On the weekend I spoke at the annual Diversity Forum’s Shout Out 2 (organised by the Human Rights Commission and hosted by Migrante Aotearoa) on the increased vulnerability of skilled workers in New Zealand. 
My speech pointed out that Permanent Residents (as confirmed by the Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman) are vital to every New Zealander’s per capita income as they bring billions of dollars into the NZ economy every year. Income which goes straight into local businesses creating prosperity and jobs.

Strangely in this time of recession however the NZ government have decided to cut migration by a third and concentrate instead on a tiny number of big investors who would pay money straight to them instead. The fact that this would cut income for NZ by nearly a billion dollars a year does not seem to matter.
I went on to explain how the path most migrants take was created by legislation introduced in 2005, forcing upwards of 85 percent of Permanent Residents to commit everything to their migration (quitting their job, selling their home etc.) to walk an uncertain path of vulnerability through temporary work visas while their Residency is processed over the course of months or sometimes years.
This I explained was the main reason for the vulnerability of migrants interested in adding value to New Zealand.

However that vulnerability has been massively increased not by the recession (as good management would easily avoid that issue) by due to unofficial changes introduced by the Immigration Minister.

Migrants made more vulnerable
Migrants are now more vulnerable for longer as they are subjected to an unfair and unpredicatable system.

I’ll post my speech on this site soon when I get a moment, but wanted to mention a perfect example which highlights my point. 

A family in Queenstown have been in NZ since 2007 working and preparing for applying for Residency. While taking the medical for their Residency application they discovered that Barbara was pregnant. 

A shocking decision
The immigration department’s response was to immediately put a block on their Residency application and stand down their temporary work permits. Pregnancy you see is considered an illness. 

The immigration department have created a situation where unless this family kill their unborn child they will lose everything they have worked for an be deported.

As extra pressure this couple are blocked from working in thier jobs and they are not eligible for any form of benefits. They have a 4 year old and will eventually run out of savings and end up out on the streets.

Did I mention it’s usually below zero centigrade in Queenstown overnight?

The most recent article in the Southland Times confirms that the family’s electricity will soon be cut off.

This brave family refuse to terminate their child.
A cruel system 
Despite playing by the rules and committing everything to their migration this family will be blocked and kicked out.

This callous and quite simply stupid treatment is a hallmark of Jonathan Coleman and shows just how vulnerable migrants now are in New Zealand.
Is this a good choice for the employer/business who needs a Stone Mason?

Is it a good choice for New Zealand?

New Zealand people with their strong sense of community are not like this and the Minister’s position I believe shames this proud country.

Is the INZ misleading migrants?

May 13, 2010

Please note:
I am not a licensed immigration adviser and the following is intended to be general discussion and commentary. It is not immigration advice and should not be used as such.

EOI selection 27th April 2010

I’m sure everyone reading this will be used to the acronyms, but just in case you’re not: an EOI (Expression of Interest) is the first step along the process to Residency. Each fortnight the INZ select a number of applications for processing towards the next stage which is an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

I have been watching the selections for a long time looking for patterns to give an indication on INZ policy. This selection is interesting for a few reasons:

Back to the norm (for 2010)
Selections through 2010 have (with the exception of the last selection) been almost identical and low. Only 4,432 applications have been selected so far in 2010 compared to 6,267 through the same period in 2009: a drop of over 29 percent.

Also unlike previous years the INZ is creaming only the highest scoring applications. In this selection:

  • 86 percent of applications include points for a job offer;
  • 80 percent of applications were made by people in New Zealand;
  • 56 percent of the selection are in NZ with over 140 points and a job offer;
EOIs selected
EOIs selected

(Click for enlargement)

The fact that there are so many high scoring applications available for this selection suggests that the job market, seriously hard for migrants in recent months, is opening up. It’s also pretty clear that most of the successful applicants are having to gamble everything in coming to New Zealand with no guarantees.

Fix this broken system

I call on the Immigration Minister (again) to review this system which is placing so thousands of people in highly vulnerable positions to have any chance of gaining Residency. A better system would see pre-qualified high value migrants gaining Resdency before leaving their home country.

A major problem at the moment is the vague, outdated and often conflicting information being given by the Immigration department which is pushing people towards licensed immigration advisers who charge heavy fees. If the Immigration department was giving clear and high quality information (as they were pre 2009) there would be virtually no need for immigration advisers at all!

EOIs remaining in the pool follow selection
EOIs left in the pool

(Click for enlargement)

A rising bottleneck
The increasing number of applications left in the pool (see graph aside) confirms there is a serious problem with the current policy. This worrying accumulation represents the hopes and dreams of over a thousand families and to me suggests either:

  1. the INZ is saving these applications up for a rainy day; or
  2. the INZ has taken over $470,000 off applicants who are unlikely to ever be accepted due to unpublished changes in policy.

Of course the latter must be impossible as it would mean that the Immigration department was potentially misleading hundreds of applicants by taking their money without informing them of the significantly reduced liklihood of selection.

Comments from the INZ would be most welcome to confirm that this is not the case.