Govt adopts National’s Covid Contribution policy

Today’s announcement from the Government is a retreat from its earlier position to drastically limit immigration to now adopting National’s Covid Contribution policy, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“After wasting four years Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has finally realised that with the tightest labour market in more than 40 years, low unemployment and a global bidding war for talented workers Kiwis businesses desperately need our valuable skilled migrants to stay.”

The Government has adopted the main elements of National’s policy announced on August 4 including:

  • Creating a pathway to residence for those migrants who have stuck with us through the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Creating a fast-tracked, streamlined process for residence applications to quickly clear the backlog
  • Offering a pathway to residence to attract critical workers in to New Zealand
  • Prioritising families with adult children
  • Prioritising critical healthcare workers

“While this is a good move, why did it take Mr Faafoi so long to solve the problem? We know of some highly skilled migrants, such as Ōtaki doctor Harding Richards, who simply gave up and left the country, but how many more examples are there?

“It is unacceptable that delays in processing residence visas have been left to explode out of control for three years, to a point where the only option the Minister now has is to fast-track residence to 165,000 people.

“Granting residence to 165,000 people is a panicked reaction from a Government who had no other choice because it broke our immigration system.

“The Minister must now increase the number of staff in the residency processing team, otherwise migrants will simply move from one long queue of misery to another. This team processes around 33,000 visas annually, even with a fast-tracked process, a 230 per cent increase in productivity to 110,000 applications in a year is an impossible task.

“National is also calling for all split migrant families who are eligible for the 2021 Residence Visa to apply in the first phase on December 1 to expedite their family reunification. We must prioritise split migrant families.

“Those migrants unfairly disadvantaged by processing delays who passed the age requirements for residence should also be granted an age waiver so that they remain eligible for this new visa category. 

“The Government has clearly panicked under the pressure and hit reset on our immigration settings, but today’s announcement has come far too late for many people who have played a valuable role in our health and economic response to Covid-19.”