Clean up of the earthquake is still ongoing.
12 June 2012
Politician calls for New Zealand visa exception
As the New Zealand visa application and acceptance rate drops for Christchurch, Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has said visa rules should be relaxed to allow the city's cleanup operation to continue.
A recently released report shows that the Christchurch branch of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) received the lowest number of New Zealand visa applications since 2003 and the foreign nationals who are already there are beginning to struggle to find work and therefore qualify for a work visa.
Christchurch has relied heavily on foreign workers to assist with the cleanup operation following the earthquake which devastated the Canterbury city two years ago.
New Zealand visa application rates dropped below the 10,000 mark in the 2011-12 financial year, compared to almost 14,000 in 2009-10. Of the applications received in the current financial year, almost 800 have been declined and Labour MP Lianne Dalziel says this is disappointing.
"After the earthquakes local Labour MPs did talk to the government about how people would leave Christchurch because they had lost their jobs and that's what happened," said Ms Dalziel, adding that the government should not be "tightening the rules on skilled migrants who actually want to be in Christchurch and have shown a commitment."
Critics of Ms Dalziel claim that New Zealanders should now be given priority for job opportunities and, as the number of migrants in Christchurch hard to track due to the fragile infrastructure, INZ needs to maintain control on new entrants:
"People might be here on a New Zealand working holiday visa and just happen to come to Christchuch because they think they can find work there or they are applying through different channels, maybe residency," said an INZ spokesperson.
"We can track the people coming through the Canterbury shortage list but if not then it's different."
Ms Dalziel disagrees.
"I don't disagree with [giving New Zealanders priority] at all but there is enough work to go around and the government should be training people to take work with the Canterbury rebuild."
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.