The perils of emigrating on temporary work visas were recently highlighted with the story of Colin Kemp and his family who emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland last year.
According to various press reports Mr Kemp was granted a work visa after being offered a job whilst in NZ on holiday – a not uncommon route for many migrants. New Zealand officially used to have something called a ‘skills shortage’ and Mr Kemp’s trade as an aluminium joiner was sought after, a 2 year job contract was offered to him and he was granted a temporary work visa.
Presumably the Kemp family’s aim was to apply for permanent visas when they met the necessary 2 year requirement. However the dream turned into a nightmare when Mr Kemp was made redundant and effectively lost his work visa. But then his problems really started – getting another job offer was easy in comparison to getting another visa.
When he told Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that he’d been made redundant he was advised that getting a new visa involved a straight forward amendment to his current one and that he’d have 2-3 months to find a new position.
But when he applied for a temporary visitors visa he was then given conflicting information by the INZ in that he and his family were now over-stayers and had to leave the country, despite it costing the country nothing for them to remain there. To make matters worse he also found out that his occupation had recently been removed from the Skill Shortage List: the goal posts had not only been moved but the game had been called off.
Mr Kemp succeeded in finding another job but according to thisismoney.co.uk “officials told his prospective employer he was unlikely to get another work permit.” The Kemp family, who is unable to claim benefits, is now reliant on family to pay for their tickets home to Britain. They may well have household belongings to ship home too which will cost $10,000-$20,000 and no doubt many other expenses associated with giving up their home in NZ and re-establishing themselves in the UK. Money that they simply do not have.
The Kemps lose their home, their dream, their savings and their security. One prospective employer has lost a valuable skilled worker, which will no doubt impact on his business’ performance and NZ has lost the taxes that both Mr Kemp and his wife were paying.
Other prospective migrants will look at this debacle and wonder if NZ is worthy of their investment (migrating isn’t cheap, it can easily cost a family tens of thousands of dollars that will never be recouped)
Employers denied skilled staff
Mike Bell, of a migrant support group in NZ, was interviewed on this matter and was quoted as saying
“These workers have been invited. But they are effectively being told New Zealand doesn’t want them any more. Many have applications for new or renewed permits declined, even if their occupations are on the “Essential Skills” list. Desperate employers are denied permission to keep skilled staff….We are seeing families who have worked here years being effectively kicked out in two weeks.
‘Many have existing jobs or offers of work in areas listed by immigration as being in dire shortage. Employers are tearing their hair out as there’s nothing they can do.”
It seems that yet again INZ has dropped the ball and hasn’t yet cast aside its “Dysfunctional” label. Between the government and its immigration service it’s starting to look as if the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.
Despite a recent radical shake-up following an Auditor General’s report that was supposed to have brought the long ailing INZ in to line, it looks like it is still operating in an inconsistent way which is failing both the migrants that NZ still obviously needs and the employers it is supposed to be servicing.