National declares win after 'trigger-happy' Immigration NZ leaks policy details – Stuff.co.nz

Pressure on the Government from opposition parties, businesses, think tanks and migrant groups, appears to have worked, after references to a new amnesty-type visa for skilled migrants accidentally leaked online.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi looked visibly surprised during Question Time on Wednesday when National MP Nicola Willis held up a piece of paper with references to a new “one-off 2021 resident visa”, from his department’s own website.
“I believe someone might have got a little trigger-happy at Immigration New Zealand (INZ),” Faafoi said.
“But when the Government is ready to announce that, we will, and as I said yesterday it will be comprehensive and give certainty to both employers and migrants.”
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There have been growing calls for the Government to create a realistic pathway to residency for migrants already in New Zealand.
Key policy decisions from the Government having been delayed for months, and in some cases years. Skilled migrants have left over the residency processing delays which were building before Covid-19, and then were given little hope for the future after a controversial immigration reset speech.
National’s spokeswoman for immigration, Erica Stanford, has been campaigning for a similar policy to the one the Government may soon announce, along with other changes including moves to re-unite split migrant families.
“They’ve had to backtrack on their immigration reset speech and implement what has been a reasonable policy of ours.”
Stanford said she had been leaked further details of the Government’s policy. She claimed it would create a pathway to residency for people on a work visa who earn more than the median wage.
Others earning below the median wage would need to have lived in New Zealand for several years.
The reference to the new policy has since been taken down from INZ’s website. It is the second time in less than two months immigration policy details have been accidentally published on the organisation’s website.
Last month, an immigration calculator on the site implied points required for residency would go up from 160 points to 180 points. That too, was later taken down.
The three largest opposition parties, National, Greens and ACT, have all called for some sort of amnesty to relieve major immigration backlogs.
Green Party immigration spokesman Ricardo Menéndez March said he would be concerned at any income requirement, and argued such requirements were a poor mechanism for trying to influence wages across an entire economy.
“I do want to acknowledge the collaborative efforts that people like myself, Erica Stanford, and James McDowall, from ACT [have done] to put immigration on the agenda.
“Yes we have different visions for what fixing our immigration system looks like, but without those collective efforts, and those of migrants affected … we would have not gotten to a position where the Government is announcing, potentially, a broad one-off pathway to residency.”
Migrant Workers Association president Anu Kaloti agreed political pressure, much of it attached to skills shortages, was likely largely to blame for the policy shift.
They’re losing health professionals, medics, they’re losing them quite fast. And that would be serious in a pandemic.
“The whole thing that this government has had is that we’re going to eradicate Covid, but if they’re going to lose their medical staff in large numbers, nurses, doctors, what have you, they’re not going to be able to keep up.”
Kaloti said the new policy would have to take a “clean slate” approach if it were to actually solve the problem of migrants spending years in various immigration and residency queues.
If the policy included more than just “good character” requirements then it could end up moving migrants from one long queue into another.
“It’s all very well making promises, but if it’s going to take another three to five years to deliver it I don’t think people are going to have the patience for it.”
For the most in-demand migrants, the new policy might have come too late to make a difference.,
Immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont​ said his firm recently put up a social media post about immigration opportunities in Canada and was inundated with 100 requests from migrants in just 24 hours.
“All the trust has gone, and I just blame that completely, 100 per cent, at the feet of Kris Faafoi, for his lack of communication.”
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