01 June 2009

New Zealand work permit holders seek govt's help

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New Zealand work permit holders are imploring the New Zealand government to bend the rules during the economic recession or else more migrants will have to return to their homeland.

New Zealand work permit holders are finding themselves in a tough position during the economic slowdown; not only are local New Zealanders being favoured over temporary New Zealand visa holders for employment, but their work permits are struggling to be renewed by Immigration New Zealand. 

The conditions of the New Zealand work permit mean that employers now have to work extra hard to prove that they need to employ an overseas worker before a local New Zealander, and those migrants who lose their jobs because of the recession only have a limited time to find a new job before they have to return home.

While the New Zealand government's policy towards hiring temporary New Zealand visa holders is focused on the best interests of New Zealanders, those people who have been emigrating to New Zealand to ease the skills gaps in the workforce are now feeling unprotected by a government who needed them in the first place.

According to the New Zealand Herald, both the Migrant Action Trust and the Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand are lobbying to have the immigration policy changed so that migrants have more time to look for work in the recession before having to return home. 

"This will give them a fair chance to look for another job and apply for a new work permit," said Dennis Maga, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand's national co-ordinator.

"Migrant workers served the needs of the New Zealand economy to meet the job shortage. Local workers must be protected, but we are also seeking protection for workers recruited overseas now made redundant."

Nearly 200,000 temporary New Zealand visas were issued in 2007-08, including the New Zealand work permit, the New Zealand working holiday visa, and partner visas.

New Zealand immigration boss Andrew Annakin said that the government is working hard to manage the unemployment levels during the recession and retain the skills recruited to the country during the past few years.

"Immigration work policy has always been based upon ensuring that New Zealanders have first opportunity to take up work vacancies.  Generally work permits will be declined if there are suitable New Zealanders available to fill the vacancy on offer."

"Immigration policy is a delicate balancing act. Even now, with the slowing of the economy, we have skills and labour shortages, and we need those gaps filled to keep our economy going and place us in a competitive position for when the global economy improves."


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to New Zealand.


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