Unskilled approach destroys skilled migrant dreams
Who is a skilled migrant? Will a professional, considered ‘skilled person,’ be assured of gaining permanent residence upon his application?
It is difficult to say with certainty that INZ will apply the same parameters while considering all residence visa applications of potential migrants with skills and experience that New Zealand disparately needs.
INZ has a list of skilled jobs but takes a microscopic piecemeal approach. This case-by-case approach does not create any certainty and keeps the fate of people hanging in balance.
This makes it difficult to predict the merits of the application unless it is clear-cut as it would be in the case of other professions such as medical practitioners.
In some cases, the same position can produce different results, simply because the Case Officer or the concerned INZ branch holds a different perspective.
As practitioners, we are unable to advise clients with certainty that their applications would be approved, although our own assessment of applications may make us believe that those candidates hold the promise of being good contributors to New Zealand’s progress as a skilled migrant.
Many of us sympathise with our clients and become frustrated since we are dealing with Case Officers who are inexperienced and have a tendency to be gatekeepers.
These case officers are the most feared ones because they appear to be oblivious to market reality. Their interpretation and employment of immigration rules becomes lateral and out of context. This is a far cry from the holistic approach that should be taken by INZ.
New Zealand is losing many highly skilled workers, which is ironic because millions of dollars are spent in countries such as UK to attract skilled migrants.
The New Zealand Herald mentioned in a recent article that shortage of skilled managers is a growing problem and that the demand in some sectors is far in excess of supply.
In recent years, INZ has isolated Retail Managers and instructed its Case Officers to decline applications for residence visas. Officials have been warned of punitive measures if they take a wrong decision. A majority of the applicants for the retail sector are of Indian origin.
This directive has meant that an applicant for a management position must prove that he or she is managing and controlling a business.
On the face it, this is fair but in reality, there is cause for worry.
Some companies are structured in such a way that the decision-making process may be collective such as department heads and/or team leaders. In some companies, even General Managers would not have powers to take even minor decisions.
But it does not mean that a person is ineffective or unimportant.
Sometimes the context would demand a spherical approach, which takes into account all the dimensions at play.
In such assessment, the focus would be on the big picture, honing in to see whether the ingredients of a skilled position exist and then standing back holistically to assess it.
We look forward to the times when INZ adopts a mature approach so that it can meet the immigration targets sensibly and in the future interests of the country.