Migrants 'over the moon' about new one-off pathway to NZ residency

Source: 1News

Migrants have expressed they are "over the moon" about the Government's latest announcement regarding a new pathway to residency in the coming months.

Manpreet Kaur, who works as a caregiver on an essential skills visa, told Breakfast on Thursday the announcement had kept her up all night hoping for good news.

"I enjoy my job and I love helping people," Kaur said.

"The only disappointing thing is being here in New Zealand and not getting what you should be getting in return for working hard... certainty about our future.

"I think, finally, we got our answers from [Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi] so I'm very happy."

An estimated 165,000 migrants currently in New Zealand may be eligible for the one-off, simplified pathway to residence announced by Faafoi in the coming months following mounting criticism of the Government over its backlog for expressions of interest for the Skilled Migrant Category visa.

Faafoi announced applications to get the 2021 Resident Visa would open in two phases: on December 1 and on March 1, 2022, adding the “majority” of applications would be granted within a year of their category opening. 

Kaur said her husband has been working in New Zealand for eight years without managing to secure residency and had "struggled" with that situation while she had only joined him for the last four years.

"I wanted to apply [for residency] last year and the year before but every time we'd get close to applying, there'd be a change of conditions or points or something every time and we'd lose hope," she said.

"Finally, this year we thought we had our points sorted, we had everything to meet this criteria and then the [expressions of interest] were suspended."

After so much struggle, hearing Faafoi's announcement was a wave of relief for Kaur and her husband.

"We were still worried [about the announcement] because we thought, 'is it actually going to be it this time?' or not because all we've heard from the minister is 'soon'.

"But finally the news came out and trust me, I didn't sleep all night.

"We are over the moon and it's not just me, it's hundreds of migrants."

President of the Migrant Workers Association Anu Kaloti said she was more relieved than happy to hear migrants were being taken care of.

"There will be a 165,000 voices like Manpreet's," Kaloti said.

"All this hard work we've put in is finally starting to pay off so we're just ecstatic and overjoyed with the announcement."

Kaloti said the announcement was great but did have some room for improvement.

"People who are stuck off shore, they have not been included this time around so that struggle continues," she said.

But Kaloti said Thursday was a day for celebration, not nit-picking.

"My phone has not stopped ringing and getting messages," she said.

"Our bigger joy is that some of our exploited migrant workers who we've represented in recent times will get residence - the ultimate dream.

"It still feels quite surreal."

In the announcement, Faafoi said Immigration NZ estimated 5000 health and aged care workers, about 9000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers are thought to be eligible. 

“There are also about 15,000 construction and 12,000 manufacturing workers on relevant visa types, some of whom will be eligible for the one-off pathway,” he said.

The scheme is available to most work-related visa holders. These include Essential Skills, Work to Residence, and Post Study Work visas. Their immediate family members would also be eligible for residency under the scheme. 

Visitors, students, working holiday makers, and Recognised Seasonal Employer workers are not eligible. 

Visa holders who are eligible to apply would be contacted by Immigration NZ by the end of October with more information.