Aaron Simon Martin –
There has been a great deal of press coverage given to the number of long-term arrivals and the number of work visas being issued.
It is often accompanied by an undertone of racism.
The debate is not often accompanied by detailed analysis of the numbers that are quoted. Often ‘long-term arrivals’ is a term of reference used by the Department of Statistics to label people who are entering New Zealand for long periods of time, but not necessarily with the intention of residing or holding a resident visa.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment data will show that over the 2014-2015 year, just over 42,000 resident visas were issued.
People fail to appreciate the figure is representative of the number of people.
When looked in that context, it is not a significant ‘influx of migrants.’
Most commentators also fail to realise that a significant portion of resident visa applicants are relationships with New Zealand citizen and residents or are international students who have acquired skilled jobs that allow them to transition to residence.
For an international student, it will often take at least four years from the time they are first issued a student Visa to get residence.
Likewise, the statistics for the issue of work visas are seldom analysed in detail.
Commentators fail to realise a significant portion of those work visas relate to students who are entitled to a one-year open work Visa on completion of their studies.
Those students can get a further two-year work Visa after that provided they obtain a job commensurate with their qualification.
Some of those work visas are issued to people who have already applied for skilled migrant residence status but are yet to have their applications decided.
Those applications of course involve them having a job offer.
There are also a large number of work visas issued to those people who are in relationships with New Zealanders.
None of these work visas needs to be labour market tested.
In other words, the Work Visa authorises work for any employer; or the employer does not need to prove they cannot find a New Zealander to do the job.
New Zealand also has a significant number of work visas issued under reciprocal Working Holiday Schemes.
Those schemes entitle young people from various countries to come to New Zealand to work in return for our young people being able to go and work in those countries.
This is how most young New Zealanders travel overseas working their way through the OE. If those work visas are taken out of the statistics, there are not a large number of foreign workers taking New Zealanders’ jobs.
The balance of the work visas that are issued are because the employer has proven they cannot find a New Zealander to do the job.
New Zealand has had a historically low birth rate. We have an increasing aged population. Until those things change, we must add to the pool of taxpayers to assist in maintaining the provision of public services (education, health, police, pensions, ACC et cetera) that we enjoy.
Often, people forget that those migrating to New Zealand Skilled Migrants come here with a strong desire to work hard, succeed and lead a peaceful life.
Those are qualities any country should be pleased to accept.
These people are an asset to New Zealand. They work hard because of one simple truth – when you migrate to another country failure is not an option.
Aaron Simon Martin is Barrister and Solicitor, employed as Senior Associate and Immigration Specialist at Turner Hopkins Solicitors based in Auckland.