Friday 21 April 2017

Trumpitunity - skilled migration edition

My piece in today's Herald argues that people working in the US on an H-1B visa should have an easier time getting New Zealand work visas.
There are no practical routes allowing a skilled migrant to move to New Zealand without a job offer in hand. Counting the salary that comes with a job offer means the system will better recognise skills, but still requires that the migrant have a job offer before getting here.

And that can be difficult.

Put yourself in the position of an employer considering an applicant based abroad. You need to hire soon.

A candidate who was born in India but who has lived and worked in America on an H-1B visa for a decade has applied.

The candidate beats anybody available domestically, and will have enough points to be granted the visa on being given the job offer.

But the candidate will not be eligible to work until the visa comes through. And getting the visa requires getting a police background check from the candidate's country of citizenship, even if the applicant has not lived there in decades.
There aren't really many NZ visa options that don't require the migrant to have a job offer in hand. But you won't get the job offer in the first place if the employer thinks it'll take months for you to clear police background checks in whatever country you left to get the U.S. H-1B.

There are a few ways to solve it, but they'd all either involve a limited duration work visa without home country police background checks for those working in the US on an H-1B (if they'd been in the US for more than a trivial amount of time), or exempting those who've made it through America's system from having to get police background checks in their home countries as well.

A country that admits millions of tourists per year without police background checks can afford to be a bit less precious about police background checks for those wanting work visas.

Meanwhile, Andrew Little wants maximum net migration numbers that are far lower than the number of Kiwis and Australians who moved to New Zealand last year and can move here by right. I wonder if he's set to start deporting people in Auckland who have Chinese-sounding names.

And while the government's shift to include salary as a way of demonstrating skill for skilled migrant visas could be a great complement to the existing system for catching those whose skills are underrecognised by MBIE's lists, it would be rather less hot if they also knocked out skilled entry for those on the current lists but on lower salaries. And the stand-down periods that would basically end consecutive work visas are inhumane. Someone comes here and starts building a life, and you kick them out for a few months every time they want a new visa? Gets harder to convince people to move to the far end of the world if you're going to treat them like that. And, worse, it gets harder for migrants to start thinking of themselves as Kiwis. That's been one of the really great things here - that immigrants aren't treated like garbage. In the middle of the biggest opportunity to attract skilled migrants to New Zealand, we've got an election campaign that seems set to have the parties compete on who can be most horrible to migrants. On the one hand, it makes me want to get my citizenship sorted out as a way of buying immunity; on the other hand, it makes it a bit yuckier.

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