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Significant Time For Immigration Gathering

NEW ZEALAND ASSOCIATION FOR MIGRATION & INVESTMENT

For immediate release: 19 July 2005

Significant Time For Immigration Gathering

One of the most significant gatherings of immigration specialists of recent years is to take place in Auckland next week.

The New Zealand Association for Migration & Investment (NZAMI) will be holding its national conference at the Waipuna Conference Centre on Thursday 28th July and Friday 29th July.

The Association represents approximately 200 members throughout New Zealand, including immigration and investment consultants, lawyers, banks, business specialists and financial advisers. It seeks consistent, fair, reliable immigration policies of long-term benefit to New Zealand.

The NZAMI notes that its 2005 conference comes ahead of a general election campaign, in which immigration policy could again become a contentious issue. It also takes place at a time of severe skill shortages, with immigration viewed as a significant part of the solution by many in the business community.

In addition, the gathering comes hard on the heels of substantial changes to the rules governing Investor Category immigrants. Furthermore, a bill on the registration of immigration agents, a move long advocated by the NZAMI, is currently before parliament.

"All of these factors have combined to make our 2005 conference one of the most significant in the Association's 16 year history," says the NZAMI's President, Marcus Beveridge.

"We are delighted that both Immigration Minister, the Hon. Paul Swain and Associate Immigration Minister, the Hon. Damien O'Connor have recognised the gathering's importance and will be amongst our conference speakers, as will be the Minster of Economic Development, the Hon. Jim Anderton and the Minister of Ethnic Affairs, the Hon. Chris Carter.

"We are also pleased to be welcoming a number of senior managers from the New Zealand Immigration Service. Their presence demonstrates a growing recognition of the importance of dialogue between those who make and administer immigration policy and those of us who deal daily with the practical realities of our immigration system," he says.

Mr Beveridge has praise for the increasing willingness of government and senior officials to take the immigration industry's views into account, but, he says, policy is still often formulated without recognition of market realities.

"This lack of realism is exemplified by the rules governing the new Investor Category of migrants. There may well be merit in requiring investor immigrants to deposit funds for five years in government infrastructural projects. Applied properly, this approach could, for example, have provided the capital needed for a second bridge over Auckland Harbour, providing substantial relief for the city's traffic flows.

"However, the minimum amount required to be compulsorily invested has been set at NZ$2 million. This will deter most potential investor migrants from seeking to relocate here, particularly as we continue to impose unrealistically high English language requirements on these would-be investors. Such a self-defeating approach could have been avoided if government had listened to experienced immigration professionals with a knowledge of the market.

"We believe that more frequent and in-depth dialogue between government, officials and the immigration industry can help improve policy formulation, to the benefit of both New Zealanders and would-be migrants. We hope that our conference will contribute to this end," says Mr Beveridge.

As the NZAMI's Chief Spokesperson, Bill Milnes, points out, the conference will also provide an opportunity for the immigration industry to refine and develop its stance on the legislation to license immigration agents.

"We have been asking for regulation for a very long time and we're certainly pleased that the government has introduced legislation that addresses some of our main concerns. Even so, we fear that the bill, as it currently stands, is too focussed on controlling the industry and insufficiently focussed on protecting migrants.

"For example, the bill threatens an immigration agent who fails to comply fully with licensing requirements with a fine of $100,000 and a seven year gaol term. In contrast, an agent who gives incorrect advice to would-be migrants or lodges applications with false documentation will face a maximum fine of just $10,000.

"We are similarly concerned that exemption from registration has been extended from the immediate families of migrants to any person offering immigration advice without payment, irrespective of whether that person is competent to advise. Again, this shows a lack of concern for the protection of migrants, who may well be ill-advised by poorly-informed amateurs," he says.

"A further concern is that migration agents operating off-shore have until 2011 to become licensed, whereas those in New Zealand must be registered by 2008. The lower priority given to the regulation of off-shore operators makes no sense when we take into account the number of immigration scams generated overseas. Again, it seems that too low a priority is being granted to the needs of migrants.

"We need to make sure that our new registration regime has the protection of migrants at the top of its agenda. We must do this both for the sake of the migrants themselves and for our own sake as New Zealanders. After all, the existence of a large pool of frustrated, failed or defrauded applicants is quite simply bad for our global reputation as a fair-minded country,

"We should also, of course, remember that today's migrants are tomorrow's New Zealanders, with a key role to play in the development of our society and in the reduction of the skills shortages currently afflicting our economy," Mr Milnes adds.

Programme for NZAMI Conference (Waipuna Conference Centre - July 28/29)

Day 1 - Thursday 28 July 2005

8.30 am - 9.00 am Registration

9.00 am - 9.10 am Chairman's Welcome - David Cooper of Malcolm Pacific

9.15 am - 9.30 am Official Opening by the Honourable Chris Carter, Minister of Ethnic Affairs

9.30 am - 9.45 am ASB Bank Migrant Banking

9.50 am - 10.30 am Workshop-Taxation and Asset Protection for Migrants

Sponsored by Hesketh Henry

10.30 am - 11.00 am Workshop-BizAngels - Linking Investors and Entrepreneurs

Sponsored by Enterprising Manukau

11.00 am - 11.20 am Morning tea

11.30 am - 12.10 pm Workshop-The Office of the Ombudsman

Presented by Yu Lina George and John Pohl

12.15 pm - 12.45 pm Workshop - Immigration Law and Practice - the course

Sponsored by Massey University

12.45 pm - 1.45 pm Lunch

1.45 pm - 3.00 pm Workshop-NZIS BMB Update and SMC, Health and WP Update

Presented by Michael Carley (Branch Manager BMB) and Carl Andrews

3.15 pm - 3.45 pm Afternoon tea

3.45 pm - 4.15 pm Workshop- NZ and Australian Immigration Policies Compared

Presented by Mark Tarrant, Solicitor, WrightStell Lawyers

4.15 pm - 5.00 pm Workshop - Immigration Industry Regulation - NZ and Australia

Presented by Bill Milnes, Access Immigration (NZ) and Laurette Chao, Gibsons Lawyers (Aus)

Cocktails - Thursday 28 July 2005

5.00 pm - 6.00 pm

Dinner - Thursday 28 July 2005

7.00 pm - 11,00 pm for NZAMI members and their partners

After Dinner Speaker-the Honourable Damien O'Connor, Associate Minister of Immigration

Day 2 - Friday 29 July 2005

8.30 am - 9.00 am Registration for Day 2

9.00 am - 9.15 am Chairman's Welcome / housekeeping

9.15 am - 9.45 am Yong Lee of Kiwi Discovery

Success at Business Migration

9.45 am - 10.15 am Morning tea

10.15 am - 11.00 am The Honourable Paul Swain, Minister of Immigration

Immigration Now and Into the Future

11.15 am - 12.30 pm Mary Anne Thompson, Deputy Secretary Workforce (DOL)

The Workings of the Department of Labour's Workforce incorporating the NZIS

12.30 pm - 1.45 pm Lunch

2.00 pm - 2.30pm The Honourable Jim Anderton, Minister of Economic Development

The Key Role of Immigration in the NZ Economy

2.30 pm - 2.45pm ASB Bank - Migrant Banking

2.45 pm - 2.55pm Official Closing

3.00 pm - 5.00 pm Annual General Meeting

ENDS

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