Lincoln Tan of the NZ Herald today wrote about a new problem some migrants are having during the recession – not being able to work in their native countries because they’ve given up their citizenship rights to live in New Zealand:
“Jobless Asians are barred from work in their native countries because of their NZ citizenship.
Asian immigrants who have given up their birth citizenship to become New Zealanders are being hit by a double whammy in the recession. Asian unemployment is well above the national average at 9.2 per cent in New Zealand, so many are looking for work in their native countries. But despite having job offers, many struggle to get work visas as they are now considered “foreign” workers.
Immigration expert Paul Spoonley does not know how many are in that position, but those affected are from countries that do not permit dual citizenship.
“One of the strengths of New Zealand is that we allow dual citizenship and migrant mobility, so it’s really disappointing that migrants who have made a commitment to New Zealand are being put in a no-win situation,” said Professor Spoonley, of Massey University. “Our responsibility should be to help them be employable and find employment here, because there is little New Zealand can do with helping them in going back.”
Like New Zealand, many Asian countries have tightened immigration policies on foreign workers. Some have even offered cash and other incentives for migrant workers willing to leave the country permanently.
Despite an offer to start in January as a journalist trainer at Malaysia‘s largest English-language newspaper, the Star, immigrant Charles Chan, who became a New Zealander in 2006, is still waiting for his Malaysian visa.
“I suppose I could have just walked into the job if I had held on to my Malaysian passport, but they now consider me a Kiwi,” he said.
A South Korean New Zealander says he has not been able to get a visa to return to South Korea to work, despite an offer from a large construction company in Seoul.
He does not want to be identified because he says the situation had caused him to “lose face”.
“I wanted to become a New Zealander because I wanted this country to be where my family’s future to be,” he said. “On hindsight, it is stupid, and this is a price I have to pay.”
South Korea and Malaysia have recently tightened their stance towards foreign workers.
Malaysia is to send 60 per cent of its 2.1 million foreign workers home, and is not renewing any contracts, and South Korea is planning to export its unemployment by paying jobless graduates to seek work overseas.
Labour’s associate ethnic affairs spokesman, MP Raymond Huo, says the level of Asian unemployment in New Zealand is alarming and unprecedented.
“About 21,000 Asian people are here without jobs and it is hurting many Asian migrant families.”
One has to ask if obtaining New Zealand citizenship is worth it under such circumstances, would people be better off remaining on Permanent Resident Visas?
New Zealand is currently trawling for migrants from countries like Singapore,we don’t know if Singapore allows dual citzenship.