Posts Tagged ‘new zealand’

90 day rules and existing workers

September 24, 2014

Interesting story today in The Press:

Christchurch rebuild manager unfairly sacked
A piling manager recruited from England and sacked in his first 90 days has won nearly $40,000 from his Christchurch employer.
source

Basically the employee started work in January 2014 but didn’t sign his employment contract until February 2014.

Hickey ruled the 90-day clause was invalid because the Employment Contracts Act said such provisions could not be imposed on existing employees. Hall and Smith Crane had not signed the individual employment contract before Hall began his job. By the time he signed the contract, he was an existing employee.

90 day clauses cannot be applied to existing employees – including those who have completed a free trial – and this sets an interesting precedent of what is an ‘existing employee’.

Of course this situation should never have occurred:

  1. It is illegal for an employer to start you in the job without a signed contract.
  2. To get a work visa to work for a specific employer (like an essential skills work visa) the migrant has to prove Immigration New Zealand (INZ) with a signed employment contract, it’s a mandatory requirement and the INZ have to be satisfied that the employer meets all New Zealand employment and immigration laws. .

Mind you, I had a migrant come in to see me the other day for advice who already had a work visa but hadn’t signed his contract yet – the immigration case officer processing his visa application hadn’t noticed. Government plans to automate the granting of work visas soon through online applications, I wonder if that will improve quality control.

There are a couple of things to take out of this article:

  1. The Employment Relations Authority – www.era.govt.nz
    This organisation is there for you (even if you are on a work visa) to protect your employment rights.
  2. Employment law
    Migrants coming in to NZ to work for a specific employer need to understand the employment laws here, for example:
    – the 90-day trial period and what is means;
    – Unpaid trial periods are illegal and risk your visa application;
    – You must have an employment agreement from day one;
    – This must have clauses which protect you (such as holidays);
    – You must have a minimum of 30 paid hours pw guaranteed.

The immigration and employment laws around this area are in place protect you and are there for a reason ;o).

Mike Bell
Migrant advocate | Licensed Immigration Adviser

Cutting immigration – NZ First

July 19, 2014

Today on current affairs programme ‘The Nation’ Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First (NZF) political party confirmed:

“We’ll cut immigration to people we need in our economy, not who need us.”

He went on to state:

“Half the people coming and more are not here to make any contribution until 21 years or more or never to make a contribution. That’s bad economics.”

So here we have another political party going into the 2014 election trumpeting that immigration is economically bad for New Zealand and needs to be cut.

New Zealand First policy
To find what Mr Peters meant I checked the NZF website and found recent confirmation that he intends to block migrants who are not in the skilled category.

As I confirmed in May on average just under 40,000 people come to live in New Zealand permanently every year. These are made up of four main streams – using 2012/13 figures roughly these are:

  1. 51% – skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors
  2. 29% – the foreign-born children and partners of New Zealand citizens and residents
  3. 11% – the parents and family of migrants
  4. 8% – humanitarian and pacific quotas

This policy then appears to plan to cut groups 2, 3 and 4 including parents of migrants, the foreign-born partners and children of New Zealanders and NZ’s humanitarian work.

The NZF immigration policy is basically a list of current immigration policy (for example the parent category is called the ‘capped family stream’ because it is capped with a quota already) with additional measures to:

  • protect migrants against exploitation;
  • push skilled workers into regions and out of Auckland;
  • remove the ability for some migrants (not skilled workers) to purchase pre-paid English lessons to meet requirements.

Forcing skilled workers needed by employers to live in remote areas where there are no jobs is an interesting idea that I don’t think will catch on – yes you can work remotely as an IT professional but it is a bit harder for engineers etc. The others points listed are tiny tweaks with the vast majority of what NZF stands for already being current immigration policy.

Cutting immigration
Mr Peters has spoken out previously against the parents of migrants in the “Capped family stream”. These (not including other family) make up 9.5% of residence numbers with Chinese parents (the group Mr Peters is most concerned about) being (last year) 43.8% of this. Parents of people born in China make up just over 4% of residents.

The “Uncapped family stream” Mr Peters appears to have most problem with (29% of residence visas) are the foreign-born partners and children of New Zealanders. I am not sure blocking this group from coming to NZ is something which would be supported by most Kiwis.

Government has been working to bring skilled New Zealanders working overseas home but forcing them to leave their partners and children behind may make many think twice about heading back to Aotearoa.

Economic benefit
Mr Peter’s comments also ignore government research from the 2006 census which confirmed in 2008:

“…overseas-born migrants contributed $8.1 billion to the economy in 2006, while using $4.81 billion in benefits and services. In comparison, New Zealand-born citizens contributed $24.76 billion and used $21.92 billion in benefits and services.

The net impact for having an immigrant here is $3.29 billion, or $3547 per capita, while the net per capita contribution of a New Zealand-born is just $915,..”

This related to all migrants, not just skilled workers. Healthy and law-abiding migrants trained overseas are economically beneficial to New Zealand, but often because they are supported by their partners. Their children are also needed as future workers to support an aging population if the concepts of “retirement” and “pension”  are to continue in this country.

Summary
I’m not sure New Zealand First’s policy will win the hearts and minds of New Zealanders by blocking their husbands, wives and children from entering the country – they might want to think this through.


 

Mike Bell

Migrant advocate | Licensed Immigration Adviser

Ignoring History – part 2

June 2, 2014

Following on from my last post “Ignoring History“.

So the NZ Labour Party is proposing to cut immigration to help reduce the rapidly rising cost of housing. There has been a lot of confusion about how this is intended to be done – whether to cut temporary visas or residence visas for example.

Labour leader David Cunliffe is now stepping away from the more contentious comments, indicating the whole thing has been a media beat up. While to some degree this may be true I clearly remember Mr Cunliffe stating there is “open slather” on the current immigration system. So is there “open slather”?

Ignoring history
The party appears to have settled on visas being issued through the Skilled Migrant Category as the problem – people on temporary work visas generally don’t buy houses – but this ignores history.

Skilled Migrant is the largest residence stream and is managed through a points system. The Labour Party have most recently indicated they would use this points system to manage numbers on the basis that reducing numbers would reduce pressure on house prices.

I say this ignores history as over the past five years the Skilled Migrant Category has been slashed by a third. This reduction has had no apparent effect in lowering house prices.

Here is a graph of residence visas granted since 2008/09:

residence-visas

Source: Immigration New Zealand Residence programme statistics
As 2013/14 figures are only available to 4 May (307 days of the year) I have calculated a figure based on this for 365 days.

To explain the categories:

  • Skilled Migrant – skilled workers meeting a stringent points system.
  • Other business/skilled – investors, entrepreneurs etc.
  • Humanitarian – refugee quota, pacific quotas.
  • Capped family – family members of migrants (only parents can use this now).
  • Uncapped family – foreign-born partners and children of NZ citizens and residents.

Changes since 2008/09
Clearly the Skilled Migrant stream is by far the largest single stream and this is because the residence programme is designed to fill skill gaps.

While most of the streams have changed very little, numbers coming through the Skilled Migrant stream are down by 32%.  Over the past five years nearly 32,000 less people have gained residence visas through this category compared to 2008/09 levels.

Manipulating the points system

So why have these numbers fallen so far? Because government has been managing numbers using the Skilled Migrant category points system – the same tool Labour proposes to use to reduce house prices now.

Government has incrementally been raising the bar on the Skilled Migrant points system since January 2010 by reducing the types of applications accepted – at the first stage called Expressions of Interest or EOIs.

For example before January 2010 any EOI scoring 100 points or more stood a very good chance of being selected to begin the process. Since January 2010 – across 112 selections – only EOIs with bonus points relating to skills in long term shortage have been selected.

Additional changes in June 2011 and January 2013 further reduced this to the point where the only EOIs being routinely selected now are those with 140 points or a skilled job offer. All of the data is provided by the immigration department and available for analysis.

The natural result of less people entering the system has been less visas being granted: using the points system to manage numbers.

eois

Source: Immigration New Zealand
Again as 2013/14 is incomplete I have used the average for this year for the last 3 selections to go to complete a total year figure.

I am not aware of a resulting drop in the cost of housing in New Zealand.

I am aware however of a huge increase in skill shortages with 59% of employers reported as struggling to find key staff. Skill shortages directly reduce the number of jobs and training opportunities for New Zealanders while lowering wage growth and company profits – arguably one of the reasons the NZ economy has failed to pick up.

The original quotas were set at a level in 2002 for a reason and had been working very well. Since these changes were implemented government has missed minimum quota levels  by an average of over 4,600 per year (10%).

Summary
Labour’s proposal then is for more of the same to produce a different result.

Wasn’t it Albert Einstein who defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”?

It will be interesting to see the next phase in this policy.

Mike Bell

Migrant advocate | Licensed Immigration Adviser

Ignoring history

May 31, 2014

The Labour Party, in the lead up to this years’ election, is proposing to cut immigration to help reduce the rapidly rising cost of housing as covered in the Press today and echoed by Phil Twyford on The Nation this morning.

“Labour’s proposal would, in part, see the “points system” under which skilled migrants get entry to New Zealand tweaked in response to net migration flows.”
source

So what’s wrong with this policy?

Well there are quite a few problems, but the main one is that doesn’t work.

A few issues
Some of the main issues with this have been identified in todays’ article, for example that the Permanent and Long Term Migration figures being used cover everyone coming in for a year or more (working holidaymakers, students, temporary workers and residents), the vast majority of which would have no intention of buying a house here.

When Labour talks about the “points system” what they mean is a system used in assessing applications under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) of New Zealand’s Residence Programme. Points are awarded for age, work experience, qualifications with weighting towards having skilled employment here, especially if this is in an area of long term skill shortage.

There are a number of problems with using the SMC to manage immigration like this such as:

  • Time lag
    It takes on average between 8 and 12 months for an application to go through this process, longer if the person is offshore. Any changes will take a very long time to have an effect.
  • Numbers
    If Labour is planning to use this immigration route to manage immigration by 25,000 to 35,000 there is a problem – only 18,156 visas were granted through this stream last year. A cut could easily see the entire stream canned.

    While some people might think that would be a good idea, remember that NZ is in an international battle for skills, trying to attract top migrants here to fill skill gaps. We’re not talking about gaps which can be met by training a few I.T. graduates as the article suggests, we’re talking about attracting qualified professionals who already have years of experience.

    I was talking to a Christchurch employer recently who confirmed for every highly skilled foreign worker (usually with 10+ years of experience) they employed they could employ and train at least 2 New Zealanders.

  • Incentive
    So under this policy SMC points will move around in an unpredictable way. Is it an incentive for migrants to have to pay $2,320 to enter a system where the goal posts are continually moving? We need more transparency in immigration, not less.

Ignoring history
Finally there is one major problem with this policy – it doesn’t work. We know it doesn’t work because it hasn’t.

Successive changes were made by government in January 2010, June 2011 and January 2013 to make the SMC points system harder to get through, as a result visas granted have dropped by 32.78% compared to 2008/09. The effect of this has been nearly 32,000 less people allowed residence visas under SMC during the past five years.

What effect has this had on Auckland house prices? Why would further cuts have a different effect?

Interestingly during the same period (25 July 2011) “residential property development” was added by the government to the list of acceptable investment types for wealthy overseas investors to apply for visas here. Just sayin’.

Mike

Migrant advocate | Licensed Immigration Adviser

 

CTV News interview

May 29, 2014

Interview with CanterburyTV news today about immigration, the rebuild and what the effects of cutting work visas might be. 



We’re right in the heart of Christchurch providing advice to rebuild employers and workers every day. Immigration has become a key issue, but mostly because people are being scared by misused statistics and partial information often confusing permanent and temporary migration.

Work visas holders are here only because we need them and cannot find NZ workers to do jobs that need skills and years of experience – apprenticeships are vital for local youth, but unemployment for men here is down to 2% and to rebuild we need mostly experienced experts overseeing a smaller number of trainees.

Training in many areas has really taken off because of the overseas experts helping our local tradespeople in giving those with an aptitude tuition and oversight. You can’t train an electrician, plumber or stonemason overnight, but because of the work visa holders many young New Zealanders are beginning careers now that will help this country into the future long after those visas have expired.

Mike Bell

Migrant advocate, Licensed Immigration Adviser

Cutting immigration – where to start?

May 26, 2014

Politicians are talking about cutting immigration using figures which relate to people coming for 1 year or more – the Permanent and Long Term arrivals produced by statistics NZ.

From these stats it is clear numbers have changed since last year due to:

  • 16,151 less NZ citizens leaving the country;
  • 3,267 more NZ citizens arriving in NZ; and
  • 9,954 non NZ citizens arriving.

So roughly 66% of the change was the movement of NZ citizens, 18% was an increase in the number of Australians coming to NZ and 15% was ‘everyone else’.

As a point of interest the only aspect of immigration which is not carefully controlled or managed by the NZ government relates to Australians – citizens and permanent residents can simply get on a plane and are automatically handed residence visas at the border.

This year there was an increase of 5,391 Australian citizens coming to NZ, a rise of 34%. I wonder how many of the 15% ‘other’ were permanent residents of Australia, the stats do not show this.

By comparison looking at the other countries there were:

  • 1,186 more Indian citizens;
  • 736 more Chinese citizens;
  • 662 more German citizens;
  • 402 more US citizens;
  • 262 more South African citizens; and
  • 16 more UK citizens.

Blind statistics
Using these statistics however does not give detail on why people came to NZ or how long they planned to stay – we only know they intended to stay for a year or more.

My last post looked at residents only – those you could argue who are most likely to buy a house – asking which of these the politicians would cut.

Perhaps it would be better to look at all of the visas issued last year which would be likely to be for a year or more to compare more closely with the figures being used by politicians.

Looking through the immigration department statistics on visas issued in 2012/13:

  • 14.6% were residence visas – arguably the most likely to buy a house as they stay permanently. Of those 11,291 were the partners and children of New Zealand citizens and residents.
  • 21.3% were foreign fee paying students who paid around $1 billion to study here last year, spending around $848 million on accommodation etc.
  • 19% were young people on a 1 year working holiday visa, these were required to bring collectively at least $210 million into the country to spend.
  • 17% were skilled workers (temporary and permanent) where employers had proved they could not find NZ workers to do the job offered (paying taxes, filling skill gaps, creating jobs and training NZ citizens).
  • Another 10% were partners (of visa holders or NZ citizens) on temporary visas.

That’s a total of 82.4%.

The remaining visas went to refugees (1%), children studying at school (3.3%), parents of visa holders (1.7%) etc.

scaremongeringIf numbers are going to be cut where will the politicians start I wonder?

Where do you think the cuts should be?

Mike Bell

Migrant advocate, Licensed Immigration Adviser

 

 

Hospital jobs elude migrants

November 10, 2013

An interesting article in the news today regarding changes to job opportunities for migrant doctors in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s immigration system is intended to bring in key staff to fill skill-gaps. Of course skill gaps change as the New Zealand government create training opportunities to meet these.

In this ever-changing landscape it is important for anyone thinking of coming to New Zealand to have solid information on how badly their skills are needed as well as training or registration requirements.

Medical jobs have always been in demand – they make up half of the Long Term Skill Shortage List – but this article just goes to show that nothing should be relied upon.

Hospital jobs elude migrants

Immigration officials will consider removing general practitioners from a skills shortage list as newly qualified immigrant doctors struggle to find jobs in hospitals.

Despite being New Zealand citizens and passing English and clinical competency exams, migrant doctors say they are being locked out of work.

Their concerns come on top of young Kiwi doctors struggling to find jobs in Auckland on graduation, as revealed last week in the Herald on Sunday.

Doctors from non-western countries must pass a New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX) and work for a year under observation before they can be registered. Morella Lascurain, an NZREX-qualified doctor who runs a private health centre in Auckland, said the NZREX pathway had become a dead-end street.

She knows of at least 22 doctors from African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries who had passed the exam but were unable to find work as house officers. One of those included an ophthalmologist with 20 years’ experience.

Read the rest of the article on the New Zealand Herald here.

Any medical staff thinking of coming to New Zealand to look for work will need to check carefully that there is demand for their skills and find out what the registration requirements are to work here..

A good place to start checking are the District Health Boards throughout New Zealand. These usually have good HR staff and can give you good feedback on where they are struggling to find key staff .

Mike Bell


Mike is architect of migrant community move2nz.com, a migrant advocate, and a qualified and licensed immigration adviser.

Too fat to live in NZ?

July 27, 2013

Mike BellIt’s been a while since I wrote a blog but spotted this it today’s Press newspaper.

I often get asked about medical issues affecting immigration applications – especially grey areas like obesity. While most immigration requirements are quite clear this is can be a very uncertain area.

This article is intended to help migrants prepare for success ;o).

 

Too fat to live here?

A medically obese South African man has been told he is too fat for New Zealand, despite losing 30 kilograms since he moved to Christchurch six years ago.Albert Buitenhuis and his wife, Marthie, are now facing deportation after their work visas were declined because of his 130kg weight.

Immigration authorities cited the demands his obesity could place on New Zealand health services.

source

Immigration medicals
When you are making immigration applications you will be asked for a medical for any visa which will take you over 12 months in New Zealand. This is to test if you have an acceptable standard of health.

What they’re actually looking at is any likely cost to New Zealand. If you are applying for residence this is classified as $41,000 over the next five years (A4.10.2).

The process is:

  1. Case officer
    your application goes in to the department and is allocated out to a case officer. As they are not medically trained they send any medical issue to an external expert to be assessed
  2. Medical assessor
    This expert checks the papers and makes a decision on how much you are likely to cost NZ. The important point is that they can only go by the papers provided as they will never meet you
  3. Decision
    The case then goes back to the case-officer who makes a decision on your application

If you do have a medical condition (or your children will need educational support at school due to a learning difficulty or condition) it is vital to:

  • Provide as much documentary evidence as possible; and
  • clearly quantify any cost

If you have not provided clear evidence about the costs of your condition the medical assessor has to make a judgement call on your long term prognosis – they will be looking at the next 5 years.

You do not want that because the medical assessor has limited information. Much better to give them reports from experts who have examined you to ensure the medical assessor has really good information. This also means you have a reasonable idea of your chances of success before you lodge the application which is vital.

This is an area where it can be a good idea to get a professional opinion, calling on previous case knowledge to give you a sound idea of whether you are likely to be successful.

Summary
Please take medical issues seriously. Any application submitted to the immigration department (whether entered by you or with professional help) that includes a medical issue (or even the possibility of one) should leave nothing to chance.

Careful research and preparation to ensure the medical assessor has everything they need to agree you have an acceptable standard of health is a minimum.

If you find through this research that you may not have an acceptable standard of health at least you will know the risk you are taking before you start out.

Mike Bell


Mike is architect of migrant community move2nz.com, a migrant advocate, and a qualified and licensed immigration adviser.

Freedom in the Press? Nope

February 21, 2013

After jumping up and down about what the damage being caused by cuts to skilled migration in New Zealand since mid-2009 I noticed the following article in The Press this week:

Govt denies limiting skilled worker entry

The Government has tightened the screws on skilled migration aggravating the nation’s skills shortage for political reasons, an Auckland immigration consultant says.

source

Aha I thought. Someone has finally got a member of the press to show interest. I have been trying to do this for years, sending article after article about this very subject to journalists only to have them ignored. So I posted a reply which went into a little extra detail about this decline in the number of migrants.

I was pretty surprised to see that my reply was blocked by The Press moderators.

So I posted again to mention my post had been blocked.

Predictably that post was blocked too, so I have posted my original item below with links to the published articles:

My tuppence

I agree, immigration is a tool to fill skill shortages, to create jobs for New Zealanders and create prosperity. Properly managed immigration should not create competition with New Zealanders for jobs and I am delighted to see an increasing number of New Zealanders being trained to meet NZ’s needs.

Skilled permanent migration is effectively by invitation only meaning that the New Zealand government has complete control and this is at it should be. Through the last few years successive Ministers have confirmed the economic benefit brought to New Zealand through immigration.

Since 2009 I have been commentating on the Skilled Migrant Category which makes up 60% of all residents coming in to New Zealand. This is the stream used by highly skilled workers. Strangely while other residence streams have stayed fairly stable over the past four years the number of applications granted under theskilled category have dropped and dropped and dropped.

On 29 July 2011 I was so concerned about this continuing drop that I wrote to the Minister of Immigration (then Jonathan Coleman) to express my disquiet. In my letter I mentioned:

“As immigration department statistics confirm, from January 2010 the number of applications selected from the pool under the SMC [Skilled Migrant Category] each fortnight fell from an average of 705 in the year to December 2009 to an average of 556 in the year to December 2010.”

In a published article on 16 Apr, 2010 I wrote:

“The Minister appears to be concentrating on attracting investors rather than skilled workers, forgetting the massive economic benefit (levies, taxes and billions added directly into local Kiwi businesses) skilled workers bring.”

“This of course is a double ‘whammy’ for New Zealand – as we advised the Minister back in November 2008 when he took office – because not only is the country going to miss out on what is likely to be in the region of $2.5 billion each year because of his decisions, but New Zealand businesses are now realising there is a serious shortage of skilled workers. The damage this will cause to New Zealand’s economic recovery can only be guessed at, but I believe it will be huge and long lasting.”

“It’s frustrating as hell but a realisation of what we have been warning of since 2008 is slowly growing. Whether mainstream NZ will understand the source of this damage remains to be seen.”

In a published article on 30 March 2012 I wrote

“This year (although the quotas have been now spread over 3 years) the department is heading for a shortfall of 8,442 (based on departmental statistics to February 2012) or 33.8% on the Skilled Migrant Category.”

Now in February 2013 we are half-way through what has been made into a three year quota period. Bearing in mind that the quota for these highly skilled and experienced workers sits at between 45,000 and 50,000 per year we are currently on track to miss the minimum quota by nearly 22,000.

Since 2010 I have been wondering aloud in articles published online how the decisions to cut skilled migration would affect New Zealand, how businesses would be affected by rising skill shortages and how much economic damage these decisions would cause.

Only the final question remains to be answered as the skill shortages are really starting to bite. I guess we will never know the full cost of the choices made to cut skilled migration by politicians – the cost to New Zealand workers and businesses – but whatever the figure is we know it will be measured in billions of dollars.

Mike Bell
licensed immigration adviser
architect of migrant community website move2nz.com

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