06 September 2012

Businesses blame New Zealand visa process for migrants' reluctance

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A national coalition of businesses has said New Zealand visa policy confuses potential migrants.

New Zealand visa

Business NZ says more could be done to attract migrants to New Zealand

Business NZ chief Phil O'Reilly conceded that changes to New Zealand visa policy had been made to attract more migrants over the last few years but insisted that more needed to be done.

"Instead of going out to potential migrants to say 'here are our programs', they should say 'if you want help, come talk to us'," said Mr O'Reilly.

New Zealand immigration officials recently launched the site Skillfinder, which helps employers locate overseas workers. While the site is generally considered a success, Mr O'Reilly said it was just a "fantastic example of removing those roadblocks".

The Business NZ chief said almost every sector was in need of skilled workers, from small businesses to major industries and urged Immigration NZ to move its focus away from just the lifestyle aspect of a move to New Zealand.

"We need to talk about New Zealand as a great place to work as well. For a small business, it might be offering the chance of owning that business."

Mr O'Reilly's thoughts were echoed by Peter Townsend, chief executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, who said foreign workers would be essential with the rebuild operation in Christchurch but policy threatened to hinder that progress.

"There is a general awareness we need to reduce the bureaucratic processes, ensure the processes are right as business friendly as possible, bearing in mind there are certain hoops we all need to jump through," Mr Townsend said.

The Canterbury chamber runs a settlement support program to assist recent migrants and their families adjust to a new environment but Mr Townsend warned it would need expansion to cope with the influx of migrants expected when the Christchurch rebuild gathers speed.

"One of the things you find with immigration is you get the person coming in to the job and then they bring their family with them, and the family gets isolated and decides they don't want to stay."


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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