‘Discretionary’ Immigration Policies
Conversations about immigration can evoke an emotive response due to fear, vulnerability and a feeling that what we consider ours is being invaded by outsiders.
However, shouldn’t conversations around immigration bring about feelings of belonging, identity, loyalty, trust and acceptance.
As always, it all depends on your perception. Migrating is, in effect, entering into someone’s home where you can be either welcomed and accepted, or dismissed and rejected.
Varying approaches to immigration policies
The stance a country takes on its immigration policies is sometimes based on unspoken and undocumented parameters. Policies reflect the desired outcome by those in power and are implemented accordingly.
This explains the difference in approach towards a cross-section of the applicants. An immigration policy can include language such as ‘comparable labour market,’ ‘desired or undesired candidates,’ ‘visa free’ ‘bona fides,’ ‘risk analysis’ and ‘threat’. These terms are indicators of the way in which applicants are perceived.
These indicators determine the level of welcome they will receive upon immigration to New Zealand and how their visa applications are processed.
Immigration policies and ‘discretion’ in action
We have this wonderful term called ‘discretion,’ which basically means ‘I can do what I like’ unless, of course I am brought to task by a judicial review or a complaint process.
When discretionary analysis is undertaken and the inevitable unraveling occurs, it is fascinating to observe the reasoning behind these approaches and conclusions.
When the concept of revenue, growth and economic return is added to this discretionary analysis mix, a very different picture emerges. The goal posts shift, the case gets more complex and everything becomes more difficult to fathom,
Some immigration policies and decisions on visa applications do not make sense. Because humanity and fairness are just not part of the consideration, the visa application decisions seem so unfair and unwarranted. However, if the approaches outlined above are applied, some of the decisions seem to make perfect sense.
Negative consequences of immigration policies
However, what is not intended is the flow of negative consequences. Measures are put in place to address them, yet they merely address the symptoms. The economic considerations trump.
What is wrong with the system and needs correcting is very well known, but is there the will to address it honestly? You be the judge.
Export education is one such example. It is a great revenue stream for New Zealand and a good source of skilled migrants, but in certain sectors it is rampant with problems.
New Zealand wants student numbers and several incentives exist to ensure that the target is achieved. Prima facie, there is nothing wrong with this as it makes perfect business sense.
However, some of the courses selected by the potential students are viewed as mediocre and hence, applicants are considered undesirable for long-term settlement. Again, this is the prerogative of the higher authorities, but this view has often not been communicated to the international students.
No fair play
There seems to be little room for fair play or good faith. Education is a lucrative business. Despite the investment, both by New Zealand and the affected graduated international students, the doors to long-term settlement in New Zealand remain closed.
As a lawyer, I see desperation, fear and disillusionment in the eyes of those caught in this predicament.
I despair for them and wonder, as a society, what we have become.