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Minister Warned Of Policy Risks

Minister Warned Of Policy Risks

Immigration consultants warned Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel last year that a "Talent Visa" programme was open to abuse.

Bill Milnes, Chairman of the New Zealand Society for Migration & Investment (NZAMI), says he and his colleagues told the Minister that problems were likely after she announced the programme in April 2002.

Ms Dalziel this week sharply criticised a projected "money-go-round" scheme, whereby some immigrants would be able to avoid English language tests.

Under the scheme, an immigrant would pay for the setting-up of a company, which would then pay a New Zealand firm to provide the immigrant with a contract and salary in accordance with the Talent Visa programme. Talent Visa applicants are not required to meet English language criteria.

Ms Dalziel described the scheme, developed by former Immigration Minister turned immigration consultant Tuariki Delamere, as "a very sophisticated scam".

According to Mr Milnes, the scheme and Ms Dalziel's reaction both demonstrate the importance of involving immigration consultants in discussions before policy is decided.

"The scheme in question is similar to those we forecast when we expressed our concerns to the Minister last year. It's not, in our view, a particularly sophisticated scheme and it does seem to be lawful, albeit that it is blatantly in conflict with the intent of what is basically a good policy" he says.

"The NZAMI does not condone attempts to circumvent the intent of policy. At the same time, it's very disappointing that our repeated requests to be able to contribute to policy development have tended to be ignored.

"As a result, the government is losing out on the input of practical people with years of 'coalface' experience, who can often immediately recognise potential problems," Mr Milnes adds.

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

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