New Zealand unions have urged the government to reward long-term skilled migrants with permanent residency in the country.
The calls were led by the Migrant Workers Association, Unite Union, One Union and First Union, who started a petition to try to convince the government to allow skilled migrants to live permanently in New Zealand.
The petition, named ‘Pathway to Residency’, has already amassed more than 15,000 signatures.
Skilled workers who have already been at NZ for several years said the ever-changing eligibility requirement for skilled migrants’ pay and points makes it extremely difficult for them to apply for and successfully obtain permanent residency in New Zealand.
Just last year, Immigration New Zealand increased the hourly pay rate threshold for some skill levels, which has made it even harder for employees in those skill levels to apply for PR in the country.
Instead, such employees have to renew their work visas regularly to sustain their stay in NZ as skilled migrants.
As of December 2020, there are 189,000 temporary skilled workers in New Zealand, with many holding jobs in highly sought-after occupations.
Moreover, many skilled workers have been unable to return to New Zealand since the coronavirus outbreak caused worldwide lockdowns and border closures.
Speaking on the issue, Unite Union national director Mike Treen said that since migrant workers cannot travel to New Zealand during the pandemic, it makes even more sense to allow the onshore skilled migrants to remain in the country.
He also criticised Immigration New Zealand for making it progressively harder for skilled employees to become permanent New Zealand residents, and called for the ‘broken’ immigration system to be fixed so that it can deliver on the promise of allowing those travelling to the country to make the transition to permanent residency.
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