TODAY |

Migrants filling labour shortage run out of patience with Government

Migrant workers filling skill shortages, such as teachers, nurses, doctors and engineers, are running out of patience with the Government's lack of a clear pathway forward for them. 

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The Government stopped process applications amid Covid, but now many migrants are running out of patience. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's border remains closed to all except residents and citizens and there's a pause on the pathway to residency for skilled migrants, with a processing time of around two years across a number of residency categories. 

And with no end in sight, many are threatening to leave for good.  

As a maths teacher, Irish national Antonia Williams, is filling a vital gap in our education system, with her school unable to find anyone suitable here in New Zealand. 

She was hired while still overseas and came here in 2018 - a move she wants to make permanent. 

"I really like the work-life balance here," she said. "I like the lifestyle, I like my job and the kids I work for." 

But 15 months after applying for a skilled migrants residence visa her application is on hold, stuck in a frozen pool with thousands of others. 

Applicants like her are able to put their expressions of interest into the pool for residency but because of Covid-19, selections for the visa have been suspended indefinitely. 

At the start of this month, there were nearly 10,300 expressions of interest for the skilled migrants residence visa. Priority for allocation to an immigration assessor is given to those earning more than $106,000. But even once an application's been selected from the pool, it can take up to two years for residency to be granted - up from nine months in 2018.

Source: 1 NEWS

Making things worse is the fact that she's unable to return if she leaves New Zealand. Making it impossible for her to know when she might be able to see her family this Christmas or the next.  

"Emotionally and mentally it's really draining. The conditions of my current visa have changed, even in the time I've been here. So I can't re-enter if I leave the country." 

National's immigration spokeswoman Erica Stanford says the situation is "hugely problematic". 

"We are inviting people to come to this country, with a promise of residency in a reasonable period of time and we are reneging on that promise. 

"We had record numbers of people arriving and low numbers of residence places. That causes a huge backlog. The Government is just adverse to people coming into this country, so they have been on a deliberate go slow for the last couple of years."  

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says they were looking at ways to manage the system and the increased wait times - but did not elaborate further. 

But for those like Williams, the lack of certainty is making her question her future here. 

"I can't do anything. I can't plan to be here, I can't plan to be at home...it's impossible to do anything."