Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment briefing paper says New Zealand authorities are grappling with unprecedented threats to the integrity of the immigration system

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment briefing paper says New Zealand authorities are grappling with unprecedented threats to the integrity of the immigration system

A Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) briefing paper to Associate Minister of Immigration Poto Williams says New Zealand authorities are experiencing unprecedented threats to the integrity of the immigration system.

The report was released late last week with a batch of other briefing papers to ministers and refers to everything from migrant exploitation and people trafficking, to the tourism sector and New Zealand’s free trade commitments. It was presented to Williams in July and states:

“Right now we are experiencing unprecedented threats to the integrity of the immigration system. These include migrant exploitation, people trafficking, sophisticated fraud and increasing allegations of non-compliance. In addition, strong and sustained economic growth coupled with low unemployment has driven significant demand for migrant workers at all skill levels, and in particular in sectors and regions where migrants are vulnerable to exploitation.”

Immigration and growth

The report highlights the role immigration plays in contributing to the economy through filling skills shortages, encouraging investment, supporting innovation and growing export markets. It says immigration has also contributed to the country's strong Gross Domestic Product growth in recent years through population growth.

“However, the evidence suggests that the contribution of immigration to per capita growth and productivity is likely to be relatively modest.

“It is important to balance these objectives with other portfolio objectives. For example, immigration can have impacts on infrastructure and housing that need to be well managed. In addition, it is also important to ensure that labour market settings facilitate a growing, more knowledge intensive and productive economy, which workers benefit from through rising wages.”

Statistical context

The report says that at the end of May this year there were 237,339 work visa holders in New Zealand, up 72% on five years ago. Of the total number of work visas 30,000 were post study work visas and 57,700 were part of working holiday schemes. While there were 102,222 student visa holders, up 22% on five years ago.

It says while immigration provides employers with access to foreign workers to supplement New Zealand’s existing labour market, it shouldn’t be used to supplant local workers or drive down wages.

“It is particularly important for providing workers who have skills that are in short supply and/or not readily trainable in New Zealand. In general, New Zealand’s economy has supported migrant flows well. However, if not well managed, for example, if migrants are substituted for New Zealand workers or drive down wages, then the immigration system could work against the objectives for the labour market and for New Zealanders’ wellbeing.”

It says migrants should complement rather than substitute for local workers.

“To manage this well the system needs to complement other labour market systems, such as the skills, welfare, and employment systems.”

Right settings

The MBIE report says the immigration system also provides access to New Zealand for tourists and international students - two of the country’s biggest export sectors. The report says 3.6 million visitors entered the country in 2017/2018 and the tourism sector is now worth $12.9 billion a year to the New Zealand economy. Immigration also plays a part in New Zealand’s international agenda by supporting trade, security and foreign policy goals.

“In recent years, commitments have been made under Free Trade Agreements to enable certain foreign nationals to work in New Zealand. These aims need to be carefully managed to ensure that they do not work against each other or other wider objectives.

“For example, supporting the international education industry by providing pathways to work and residence in New Zealand can support our labour market objectives if the students are highly skilled and complement existing workers.

“However, if international students undertake low skilled and low paid work, compete with local graduates and workers, or crowd out more experienced or skilled workers, it may work against the Government’s wider objectives for the integrity of the immigration system and the labour market.”

It says the challenge is getting the settings right and that requires ongoing monitoring and reviews.

Latest stats

Recent figures released by MBIE show that the number of work visas being issued has increased steadily over the last seven years. In the 12 months to the end of July, 243,195 work visas were approved, which was 12,189 more (+5.2%) than were issued in the previous 12 months and 15.7% more than were issued in the 12 months to July 2016.

But the number of residence visas approved by Immigration New Zealand has been steadily declining for the last three years, from a peak of 51,750 in the 12 months to the end of July 2016, to 34,881 in the 12 months to the end of July this year, a reduction of 16,899 (-32.6%).

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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14
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Good to see someone applying some thought to it.

I'll start by suggesting nil. For those who have trouble with this, try Garrett Hardin's metaphor:
https://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil1100/Hardin.pdf

We should be closing the door, and we will be watching everyone else closing theirs too - spaceship earth is a tad full.

I have seen migrants ( both indians, chinese and east Asian natives) and some have population of nearly 10 % and their contribution in NZ economy is more than 30 to 40 %. These race pay taxes to help NZ Edging population. You can not blame whole migrant communities because of few stupid (?)people.
In return, what they get....Their houses, dairys and shops get robbed everyday. They been attacked everywhere.

We have many kiwis which are active in fraudulent activities. Why to target only migrants? It is nothing but discrimination.

Rubbish. This is about increasing population- not about someone’s race.

This is about paying someone's benefits.

What's race got to do with it? There are migrants of many different races.

The question is about volume. At twice the OECD average rate of immigration, the rate is simply too high.

Politicians have been misusing immigration as a short-term sugar rush in place of real long-term economic policy.

With the lower NZ productivity among OECD, you gotta pump more labour into the Rock Star economy I suppose.

Productivity depends if everyone is contributing not only migrants.

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Low wage immigration = disaster. [Corruption, eploitation, under-employed low-skilled Kiwis, reduced training, honest businesses hampered by the bad ones, etc].
If an immigrant earns well above average wage then more often than not they are a benefit to NZ.
Only proof of skill is salary. Why are there no figures for the annual earnings of recent immigrants?

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Er, I think what MBIE are saying, in everyday English, is they have no idea what is actually going on and that it is probably far worse than anyone imagines. They have to merely allude to really, really, serious problems. That was a very forthright briefing.

No wonder we have a housing problem. Who would have thought?

Of course it goes far deeper than what we see, there are "ethnic" restaurants popping up all over the place, some right across the road from each other, no way is there that much demand for butter chicken

Well said. The hourly wage threshold for resident visa applications should be at least 1.5 times the median wage, not at parity.

Why are there no figures for the annual earnings of recent immigrants?
Such figures should also help us estimate the funding gap between tax take from recent migrants and costs associated with increasing infrastructure capacity to accommodate them.

I have seen migrants ( both indians, chinese and east Asian natives) and some have population of nearly 10 % and their contribution in NZ economy is more than 30 to 40 %. These race pay taxes to help NZ Edging population. You can not blame whole migrant communities because of few stupid (?)people.
In return, what they get....Their houses, dairys and shops get robbed everyday. They been attacked everywhere.

We have many kiwis which are active in fraudulent activities. Why to target only migrants? It is nothing but discrimination.

It is known that recent immigrants from where ever pay more taxes - because they are almost all of working age. In most other countries they pay more tax than average because their skill level is higher. I've not seen any figures for NZ except for a small study of 600 which proved they were earning slightly less than median wage. What stats are you using?

Are you saying the ARE paying taxes on the cash sales that almost never get rung on the till

If it was run properly it would need no immigration advisers merely a few translators. Your link reports 575 complaints!

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Of course migrant workers drive down local wages. That was just about the whole point for the party for business owners. Wage arbitrage for businesses with reach has been the biggest game for decades. Also highskill schmyskill. If you can sell a foreign skilled worker from linkedin now for $200ph why hire a graduate who may be less productive? Also it sends a message to the rest of your staff about how easily they can be replaced.
Recruitment firms are not interested in planning long term for the wellbeing of nz. They want placements and commissions now.

That has always been the case as with other walks of life

"“However, the evidence suggests that the contribution of immigration to per capita growth and productivity is likely to be relatively modest."" Since both are and have been roughly zero for years the term 'modest' is an exaggeration.
Which is not to say it can't happen: ref Silicon Valley and Silicon Glen. Our Immigration policy needs a target and statistics to check performance. Congratulating ourselves on a rapidly growing population is not enough.
PS don't blame the Asians - NZ economy was on the slide 50 years ago when POMs like myself dominated NZ immigration.

10
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And the previous paragraph in the report is just cobblers. What genuine non-property investment growth has NZ had? And what export growth when they are declining as a fraction of our GDP despite being propped up by exporting education which is subsidised by promises of residency?

Hi Lapun, I agree with the above comment.

Not sure how you brought sex into it but the bottom line is my parents were in a similar position many years ago, we paid our dues just as many other migrants did before us and did not complain ever...hek no body ever died from hard work and on the contrary it made us stronger and enabled us to build a successful family and financial independence.
Now, after only 1 generation my children do not have to work at all... a small price to pay . This society rewards people who make excuses and complain and it has to stop.

I had to check the derivation of 'cobblers' - you learn something new every day. Almost always immigration is good for the immigrants - my grumble is how it has been out of control for far too long. Running INZ would always be difficult but it has become a bureaucratic nightmare with no rational public debate, no stated policy aims and no attempt to measure success.
It is one of the rare organisations that by law cannot be reported to the Race relations commissioner however it is also just about the only govt organisation that I hear otherwise calm people complaints about its racism. I seriously doubt if it is racist but any organisation that performs so slowly risks that appearance.

There is generally no exploitation.

The very low or sometimes negative wage is a bribe a employee pays a employer to get or extend a work visa or obtain a residence visa.

It is only called exploitation after the employer got reported by the employee because of failing to get the needed visas.

Clear?

My local Indian restaurant was taken to court and found guilty of paying staff less than $6 per hour for over 60 hr per weeks. I call it exploitation.

NZ Herald headline in Dec 2016 about a 31 years old Indian in NZ being threatened by her employer "No sex, no visa". I call it exploitation. Who doesn't?

Your argument is that she should have had sex and then it wouldn't be exploitation.

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How often does this turn out to be other immigrants (often from their same country) doing the exploiting, yet it somehow gets spun around in the reporting to be NZ that's the bad guy when all we did was import the dysfunction.

There's a question I'd put to the People's Party if I came across one, I'm sick of hearing I'm somehow to blame.

10
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That's a very interesting trend that I've noticed too. Most of the exploiting is done by migrant business owners. Not that this would ever get discussed in the mainstream...

My British ancestors transported slaves that had been caught by Arabs and on sold to Americans. Slavery was illegal in Britain. Most people would say Britain had some moral responsibility.

NZ laws are NZ laws and ought to apply to and be obeyed by whoever is resident. Those Indians who owned that restaurant have left NZ rather than pay their heavy fine. However those owners probably were citizens and certainly were permanent residents. Just like you and I. Having immigration policies that attract corruption is our fault. Failure to anticipate the issue was dumb and failure to reform our immigration policy to stop exploitation when it has been so well documented (ref Prof Stringers' report 2016) is our fault. We are to blame. You personally are not to blame if you have been petitioning your MP.

Eh, there are certainly cases of exploitation where the employee is not willingly party to it. I've come across a few personally.

But you're right, there are plenty where the employee is party to it until the time it goes wrong.

Agreed sir.

While strongly supporting the need for a robust immigration policy and compliance regime, the statement " . . . migrant exploitation, people trafficking, sophisticated fraud and increasing allegations of non-compliance" is to me a sad indictment on our society.
While it may be often recent immigrants who are involved as the agents in the exploitation of workers, sadly it is often the well established middle class New Zealanders - such as orchard owners and dairy farm managers - who are equally guilty by turning a blind eye or not asking questions seeking assurances and so allowing this to occur. As an example, here in the Hawke's Bay there has been instances of exploitation and the agents being prosecuted - but why did the many, many orchards who let contracts to the agents not assure themselves that work permits, contract rates and hourly rates, and living conditions of the workers were satisfactory.

Dropping permanent residence visas from 51,750 to 34,881 in three years is good. Others are entitled to disagree. The problem is how it has been achieved:-
1.Increase in labour inspectorate eliminating the more obvious frauds
2.The Nats increasing the minimum salary requirement just before the last election
3.Simple bureaucratic delay.
The delay tactic is shocking. The truly skilled go to other countries. How it works: a friend with an excellant case applied for PR in January and the application has not yet been assigned. When it is they may find a missing full stop and it will be back to the beginning.

Do we not produce spin-doctors locally?

10
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Man, we need nation wide binding referendum (to be voted only by citizens) on immigration, housing, voter eligibility, transport spending, bail outs, and so on.
It appears that we have all been fooled all these years by the politicians we elected, who have not done anything the job description and KPA called for.
We are like the sleeping directors of most of the companies that are in trouble now.
Can we do anything in the coming elections ?

Find a party who's willing to do the above and take my vote!

I have seen migrants ( both indians, chinese and east Asian natives) and some have population of nearly 10 % and their contribution in NZ economy is more than 30 to 40 %. These race pay taxes to help NZ Edging population. You can not blame whole migrant communities because of few stupid (?)people.
In return, what they get....Their houses, dairys and shops get robbed everyday. They been attacked everywhere.

We have many kiwis which are active in fraudulent activities. Why to target only migrants? It is nothing but discrimination.

I'm an immigrant (2003) where is your evidence?

Where is your evidence?

I read a report of research 2 years ago into the annual incomes of a sample of 600 immigrants. Over half were on below average wages for where they lived. The research was done by the govt (MBIE or dept of Stats). I cannot find it online today. But as I said small sample. The problem is not the average immigrant since one might be head of Fonterra on $8m per year and another a cleaner. We need decent stats for various immigrants so we can take more of the good ones and fewer of the poor ones.

This I did find: ""New Zealanders’ are now much more likely to say there should be fewer permanent migrants coming into New Zealand each year. Spontaneously 45% now feel this way - double that in 2015 (22%). When informed of the governments migration target, an even greater proportion of New Zealanders feel fewer migrants should be able to come and live in New Zealand each year (49%). Again, a significant increase from the 31% who felt this way in 2015. "" ref page 2 of https://www.mbie.govt.nz/assets/b85da0149d/community-perceptions-migrant...
Now where are your stats?

I have seen migrants ( both indians, chinese and east Asian natives) and some have population of nearly 10 % and their contribution in NZ economy is more than 30 to 40 %.

"95% of statistics on the internet are completely made up" - Abraham Lincoln.

Then why everyone trusts these data? Including all economic data! Lol

Well, we're obviously not trusting your made up stat.

“However, the evidence suggests that the contribution of immigration to per capita growth and productivity is likely to be relatively modest.

No pain No gain... wait, what?... no gain?

I've heard similar things before, like a while back:
"The number of foreigners buying NZ property is marginal."

It might be time to decouple somewhat. I do some volunteer work with a local charity and we have some immigrants join in which is nice. Of concern is that they have (all 4) told me they can't get work in their profession so are going for entry level retail type jobs instead. I am alarmed by this because how did they get a visa (partner?) And kiwis should not be competing against immigrants for that sort of job. Retail is not skill shortage material or is it?

In the news recently a Maori leader who had been a recruitment consultant claimed he knew of immigrants who arrived as C++ programmers who were working as Uber drivers and blamed our inadequate immigration policies. It ought to be easy to establish the truth.

I would think we are looking the truth in the face each time we use an uber or order butter chicken. The country is being scammed completely. Next time I need to I will be sure to ask my courier driver for advice solving my latest fibanici sequence or the barely english speaking retail assistant at pb tech will get that nagging question regarding laminar flow that keeps waking me up at 3AM...

I have seen migrants ( both indians, chinese and east Asian natives) and some have population of nearly 10 % and their contribution in NZ economy is more than 30 to 40 %. These race pay taxes to help NZ Edging population. You can not blame whole migrant communities because of few stupid (?)people.
In return, what they get....Their houses, dairys and shops get robbed everyday. They been attacked everywhere.

We have many kiwis which are active in fraudulent activities. Why to target only migrants? It is nothing but discrimination.

Wait till robotics really gets going. Just like the tractor eliminated a pile of jobs, robots will be the same. Wont happen overnight but it will.

I have seen migrants ( both indians, chinese and east Asian natives) and some have population of nearly 10 % and their contribution in NZ economy is more than 30 to 40 %. These race pay taxes to help NZ Edging population. You can not blame whole migrant communities because of few stupid (?)people.
In return, what they get....Their houses, dairys and shops get robbed everyday. They been attacked everywhere.

We have many kiwis which are active in fraudulent activities. Why to target only migrants? It is nothing but discrimination.

I agree that dishonesty is race independant. However if you have policies that reward corrupton and worker exploitation then they will occur.

The thing is migrants have brought good and bad to Aotearoa in the last 2 decades, but of late the bad and very bad seem to be outweighing the good. The fault lies squarely with our immigration policies and practices. An open house invites robbery, right ? (pun not intended).

Time for a national referendum binding, with numerical quotas for different kinds of visas. The MPs have to act soon and we have to prod them to act.

Can someone please draft a petition and circulate here, which all readers/commentators here can send to their respective MP, before the coming mayoral/council elections. Many thanks.

.

I been here from last twenty years. I have seen good and bad in locals as well as migrants. Difference is that Locals get caught up in civil crimes and migrants get caught up doing silly things. Reason is that locals know the rules and regulations very well and they know how to stretch or bend them, while migrants don't!

I've been here for 16 years. I have mainly seen good - both locals and immigrants like myself and my visible immigrant family. I'd agree with you that local knowledge helps locals skirt the law while employers who are recent immigrants are more easily caught. The problem is that the employer is hit with a warning or a minor short term restriction in employing more migrants. It is the naive and frequently innocent immigrants who suffer. If we are to treat people differently then it is usual to treat the recent visitor more generously - or at least it is in my household.
I have not enjoyed the many comments that imply if an immigrant exploits an immigrant it is somehow not exploitation. When we accept a person to be a New Zealand resident then they must accept our laws and our society just as we have to accept foreign laws when we go and live overseas.

This same comment has been posted over and over. Looks like we have a spam bot here.

No spam boat, it is reality and hard to digest. People and politics of New Zealand are highly polarized. We have to accept it.

Yes. Sad thing is the most high profile exploitation is generally from....other recent immigrants, who only have the blessing of arriving prior, or arriving via a large wallet of cash (legit or otherwise). If in a new country - follow the rules. Most of ours are easily accessible on the internet or by asking a friendly kiwi.

Before you re post the same thing again, I personally am in favour of more people that want to work, pay tax and not break the law coming to NZ. Lets face it, all Kiwis are originally from somewhere else if you go back far enough, even Maori. My only complaint is that Nationals policy's have all but wrecked parts of NZ, as the infrastructure to support this has simply not kept up. To paraphrase the ad, "its not that were changing, it how fast were changing" . That is the crux of the problem.