Work to Residence Visa: an agonising story
Applying for residence in New Zealand
Charlie Prasad (not his real name) was very excited when Immigration New Zealand (INZ) invited him to apply for residence in New Zealand.
He lodged his residence application with anticipation and excitement. But he was unexpectedly granted a ‘Work to Residence.’ His excitement still did not dampen. He told everyone in his native India, “My wife and I will quit our jobs, sell our house, pull our children out of their school and settle down in New Zealand. What a beautiful country!” That was almost five years ago.
Immigration a passing fad?
Some of his friends were concerned. They thought that he was making the worst mistake in his life and warned that he could fail. Even after Charlie and his family left India, they expected him to grow out of ‘this migration thing’ and return home within a year.
But Charlie was strong-willed and was keen to prove them wrong. Failure was not an option. He knew they could not wait to smile in glee when he returned, as he would have no home, money and job. He would be broke financially, morally and emotionally and embrace embarrassment.
Employment in New Zealand?
New Zealand was everything he thought it was. The children started school.
What was not anticipated, as no one had told him, was the struggles associated with finding a job. Finding a job was always a challenge even in India, but he never thought that it would be almost impossible. New Zealand employers considered him over-qualified, lacking New Zealand experience and that he had a strange accent.
It was an emotional rollercoaster; one day he was close to getting a job and the next day he received a phone call or ‘Dear John’ letter. He soon realised that along with his weakening resolve, the strong New Zealand dollar was eating into his savings.
Then, the implications of Work to Residence hit him. He realised to his horror that if he did not find a skilled job within nine months of his arrival in New Zealand, his stay in the country would be in jeopardy. Desperation set in, but in the final hours, he managed to get a job offer.
INZ took an incredibly long time to process his application for a work permit. After a year, they asked him to obtain confirmation from the potential employer that the job offer remained valid. He complied and waited for another six months. INZ did not respond, and the employer withdrew the offer.
Charlie was lucky to receive another job offer and get a work permit valid for one year. Three years on, he was still in limbo land. His wife had returned home and his daughters followed because they could not afford the cost of education as ‘foreign students.’ Charlie’s case was referred to me.
Happy New Zealand residents
This is not an isolated migrant story; there are many who are in the same predicament. The Idesi Legal office has rescued many families from similarly disastrous circumstances, thus avoiding the predictions and maliciousness of friends from becoming true. Charlie and his family are now happy New Zealand residents, going on to become respected members of the community and contributors to New Zealand society.
Weaknesses of the Skilled Migrant category
INZ has time and again proved its myopia by assessing someone’s skills purely on the basis of a job offer. This is one of the weaknesses of the current Skilled Migrant Category; it is unable to see beyond a job offer to see anything else one may have to offer New Zealand and to make a make a valuable economic contribution to the country.