25 July 2008

Immigration NZ urging employers to watch for illegal immigrants

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Two men were arrested by police this week after a tip-off they were working illegally in Papamoa, Bay of Plenty. Immigration New Zealand is warning employers if they do not check the visa status of all employees, they will face penalties, reports the Bay of Plenty Times.

The two Bangladeshi men had been working illegally in the kiwifruit industry, and were found by police after Immigration New Zealand was informed of their situation. 

The employer is believed to have hired the men without regard to their New Zealand visa conditions.  A spokesperson from Immigration New Zealand has told the news provider the employer will be questioned, and has warned all other employers in the industry that prosecution is a possibility for all companies who ignore immigration laws. 

Kiwifruit Contractors Association President Matt Johnson said a tightening of the labour market is a difficult but necessary task.

"It’s really hard to keep a track of where guys are," he said.  "Growers really need to get themselves among the workforce if they can, I know it’s very difficult to do."

Although New Zealand is suffering skills shortages in several key industries, the government is being strict about ensuring all workers in the country are complying with immigration laws.  All foreign workers must have a valid temporary work permit or visa, or a permanent residency visa.  Any illegal workers will be detained and possibly deported.

In related news, Immigration New Zealand has been recruiting Pacific Island workers to meet the skills shortages in the horticultural and viticultural sectors using a successful temporary guest-workers scheme.  Under the scheme, guest workers can only work in regions specified by Immigration New Zealand and for a specific period of time.  The purpose of the scheme is to meet the demands of the New Zealand labour market and economy while providing skills development and remittances for people from less developed nations.  The Australian Government is currently discussing the introduction of a similar scheme to meet the demands of the Australian agricultural industry in regional Australia.

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

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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