Covid-19 sees migrants leaving NZ dream behind

The days are different now for South African Fern Yates.

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With no income and new work hard to find, it’s a desperate situation for many. Source: 1 NEWS

The highly skilled IT worker is passing her time as a volunteer at a cat shelter after losing the job she flew across the world for.

“When they retrenched me they gave me six weeks pay and I’ve stretched that for two and a half months,” she told 1 NEWS.

Ms Yates was well on her way to residency, but now, with no job, she has no income in contravention of her visa.

If she can’t find skilled work she has to leave the country.

“I’ve got about 36 applications out there, but when you go and check them out some of the companies have withdrawn their offers.”

She’s not along with immigration lawyers saying they are seeing similar cases to Ms Yates almost every day.

“For some of them they’re made an application for residency and it’s been processing, and in the meantime they’ve lost their job, and its’ just really tough and there’s no win for anyone in this,” says Rachael Mason from Lane Neave Immigration Partner.

New Zealand’s immigration system is set up so most migrants have to find skilled work to get a visa, plugging the gaps in the market. But some want that relaxed temporarily to give them a chance to wait out the pandemic.

However, the Government says Kiwis come first.

“We are facing a period of higher unemployment, more people will be going to polytechnic and university, and it’s certainly the Government’s view that we would like to see more New Zealanders picking up high skill value jobs in the future,” says Immigration Minister Iain Lees Galloway.

Migrants like Ms Yates argue their skills will be needed as soon as the economy recovers.

“I shouldn’t have to be a burden to anyone if I’m just allowed to earn a little bit while I’m looking for another IT job.”