National keen on blanket visa extensions for skilled migrants with more certain path to residency

Credit: Original article can be found here

National leader Judith Collins says skilled migrants who have followed the rules deserve certainty about their future in New Zealand.

It’s understood her party are soon to announce a policy that would see Immigration NZ instructed to allow far more visa extensions for skilled migrants already in the country, and a more certain path to residency.

Judith Collins said those already in the country deserved certainty.

Ryan Anderson/Stuff

Judith Collins said those already in the country deserved certainty.

This comes after Immigration NZ suspended the Expression of Interest programme that allowed skilled migrants to apply for residency to stay in New Zealand, leaving many professionals and limbo, with some leaving the country.

One Ōtaki GP recently decided to return home to the UK despite having 1300 patients on his waitlist.

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Speaking to Stuff on Wednesday morning, Collins was asked about a proposal to simply give residency to the thousands of skilled migrants already in the country keen to extend their visas or gain residency.

She said that idea was “worth exploring”.

“We’re hearing constantly about skilled people, skilled migrants who have come here on a particular visa. They’ve done everything right, and they’re either split from their families, because their families can’t get here, or else they’re in this limbo of waiting and waiting and waiting to see if they can get an extension,” Collins said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said some kind of fix was on its way.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said some kind of fix was on its way.

“It’s playing havoc with their mental health, it’s playing havoc with their ability to get on and buy a home or have any permanency,” Collins said.

“We’re talking about engineers, medical doctors, nurses, people we need – and we’ve got a Government sitting back saying ‘you can just sit there in limbo’.”

Collins said she didn’t believe in a blanket rule benefiting people who had broken the rules and were overstayers, but for people who had followed the rules National was keen to offer a solution.

“We’re very keen to say, we need to sort this out for them.”

The Government announced in June a six-month extension for people on Working Holiday and some seasonal employment visas already onshore in June.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised on Monday some kind of fix in the coming months.

Collins said the way New Zealand was treating skilled migrants was disgraceful.

“It’s wrong for them, it’s wrong for their employers, it’s actually wrong for our country and country that prides itself on trying to do the best that we can for people. It’s a disgrace.”

She said other countries were competing to get those skilled migrants, particularly Canada and Australia.