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Visa Extension A Life Raft As The Broken Immigration System Sinks

This morning’s announcement that around 10,000 working holiday visas and supplementary seasonal work visas will be extended for another six months is a temporary reprieve for workers, but fundamental reform of our immigration system is still required, according to the Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG).

"These changes are a life raft for thousands of workers in the short-term, but this announcement could have been made months ago to save migrants a lot of mental anguish as well as providing security for employers," said Mandeep Bela, UNEMIG President .

"This piecemeal approach of drip-feeding changes at the last minute benefits nobody and indicates that the Ministry is out of ideas on constructing a workable immigration system," said Bela.

"We know there are migrants still waiting for their residency applications, enduring wait-times of up to 19 months. There are thousands of expression of interest applications that are still pending, and migrant workers are emotionally drained waiting for further reforms from the Government. Family reunification is still an issue and should be dealt with in line with international law."

"Even simple visa variations takes weeks, with Government now paying out emergency benefits to workers in limbo to make up for the lack of capacity at Immigration NZ."

Bela said it’s time for Government to organise a series of stakeholder engagement events that connect the dots between the direction that proposed immigration reforms are going and the reality on the ground for migrants.

"There remains a real lack of consultation and engagement between migrant community and the Government. It’s time to bridge that gap," said Bela.

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