Unskilled approach to skilled migrants
Unskilled approach destroys skilled migrant dreams
Who are skilled migrants?
Will a professional, ‘skilled person’ be assured of gaining permanent residence for New Zealand upon their application?
It is difficult to say with certainty. INZ does not appear to apply the same criteria when considering the residence visa applications of all potential migrants with skills and experience: the skilled migrants that New Zealand so desperately needs.
INZ (Immigration New Zealand) has a list of skilled jobs, but it takes a microscopic, piecemeal approach. This case-by-case approach does not create any certainty and keeps the fates of NZ migrants hanging in the balance. Unless the criteria are as clear-cut as would be in the case of other professions, such as medical practitioners, it makes it difficult to predict the merits of the individual skilled migrant’s application.
In some cases, the same application can produce different results, simply because the case officer or the concerned INZ branch holds a different perspective.
As immigration lawyers we are unable to advise clients with certainty that their applications would be approved, even though our own assessment of the applications may make us believe those candidates hold the promise of being good contributors to New Zealand’s progress as skilled migrants.
Since we are dealing with case officers who are inexperienced and have a tendency to be gatekeepers, many of us sympathise with our clients and become frustrated.
These case officers are the most feared, because they appear to be oblivious to market reality. Their interpretation and employment of NZ immigration rules becomes lateral and out of context. This is a far cry from the holistic approach that should be taken by INZ.
New Zealand is losing many highly skilled workers, which is ironic because millions of dollars are spent in countries such as UK to attract skilled migrants.
The New Zealand Herald mentioned in a recent article that shortage of skilled managers is a growing problem and that the demand in some sectors is far in excess of supply.
In recent years, INZ has isolated retail managers and instructed its case officers to decline applications for residence visas. Officials have been warned of punitive measures if they make a wrong decision. A majority of the applicants for the retail sector are of Indian origin.
This directive has meant that an applicant for a management position must prove that he or she is managing and controlling a business.
On the face it this is fair, but in reality there is cause for concern.
Some companies are structured so decision-making processes may be collective, such as department heads and/or team leaders. In some companies, even general managers do not have the powers to take even minor decisions. But it does not mean that a person is ineffective or unimportant.
Sometimes the context may demand a spherical approach, taking into account all the dimensions at play.
In such assessment, the focus would be on the big picture, honing in to see whether the ingredients of a skilled position exist and then standing back holistically to assess it.
We look forward to the times when INZ adopts a mature approach so that it can meet New Zealand’s immigration targets sensibly and in the future interests of the country.