Labour’s immigration policy targets Kiwi Build workers and apprentice boost

Labour’s immigration policy targets Kiwi Build workers and apprentice boost; Aims to cut 20,000-30,000 work, study and post-study visas per year; Little says it’s time to take a breather

Labour's immigration policy targets Kiwi Build workers and apprentice boost

Labour’s immigration policy targets Kiwi Build workers and apprentice boost

Labour’s immigration will seek to use immigration settings to encourage foreign tradespeople into the country to build its 100,000 Kiwi Build homes while also boosting the supply of local apprentices.

Meanwhile, other measures in the party’s Election 2017 immigration policy are aimed at cutting the number of foreign workers and students issued work, study and post-study visas by 20,000-30,000 per year.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said Monday it was “time for a breather on immigration.”

In the year to March, Immigration NZ issued a little over 226,000 work visas, while there were 82,000 student visas on the issue at the start of April.

However, much of the political attention this year has centred around Stats NZ’s net migration figures showing annual net inflows of just over 70,000. The figures include New Zealanders and Australians who have free rights to work here.

Labour has attacked current migration settings as contributing to housing demand, traffic congestion, school overcrowding and pressure on other public services. It has also said not enough has been done to attract construction workers or train locals in the trades.

Construction firms will be exempt from applying the existing labour market test to bring in up to 1,500 foreign tradespeople at any one time if employers promise to take on a local apprentice for every migrant under a new ‘Kiwi Build Visa’ proposed by Labour.

Employers will be allowed to pay Kiwi Build Visa workers as little as the ‘living wage’ of about $20 an hour. The cost of each apprentice will be partially covered by Labour’s ‘Dole for Apprenticeships’ policy.

Meanwhile, a new ‘Exceptional Skills Visa’ will also allow an extra 1,000 people into the country without having to go through the full Skilled Migrant process if they can prove experience or qualifications above and beyond those required to plug a long-term skills gap.

The highlights of Labour’s policies designed to cut visa issuance include:

No student visas will be issued for courses below a bachelor’s degree level unless those courses have been assessed as ‘high quality’ by the TEC and NZQA.

Any international students that are issued visas for courses below bachelor level will not be allowed to work while they study unless the course has the ability to work approved as part of the course; International students studying at Bachelor level or higher will be permitted to work while studying.

The one-year Post Study Work Visa – Open will be limited to those international students who have studied at Bachelor level or higher.

A ‘regionalized’ system will ensure skilled immigrants work in the region a visa is issued for.

For jobs not on skills shortage lists, visas will only be issued when a “genuine effort” has been made to find Kiwi workers, including more active enforcement of the labour market test to ensure employers have offered rates of pay and working conditions that are at least the market rate, and that they have plans in place to train locals.

Skilled Migrant Category bonus points currently gained from having studied or worked in New Zealand will be removed.

Age points will be standardised to 30 for any applicants under the age of 45.

The numbers

Labour’s policy document shows changes are expected to result in 6,000 to 10,000 fewer visas being issued per year to international students in low-level courses at Private Training Establishments (PTEs);

Changes to post-study settings are expected to reduce the number of these visas issued by 9,000 to 12,000 per year.

Changes to work visa settings are expected to reduce issuance by 5,000 to 8,000. All up, Labour says the changes are expected to result in about 20,000 to 30,000 fewer visas being issued per year.

Labour said that consequential reductions in family and partner visas “in the thousands” would also be expected as a result of the changes.

In the year to March, Immigration NZ issued 226,000 work visas, with 56,000 issued to people applying from offshore; the majority of applications were made by people already in the country.

In the categories targeted by Labour’s policy, about 21,000 student job search visas were issued to former international students in the year to March 2017.

Separate Immigration NZ figures show at the end of March/start of April, there were 22,217 visas on the issue for students at Private Training Establishments.

And, of the 226,000 ‘work’ visas issued in the year to March, just over 38,000 of these were skilled work visas.

Other ‘work’ visa issuance in the year to March include 74,700 Working Holiday Visas; 11,100 Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) visas; 37,000 relationship visas; 33,000 ‘other’ visas; 1500 foreign vessel shipping crew visas, 3,800 work-to-residence visas and 2,200 visas issued to people in the country illegally.

The policy from Labour follows tweaks made by the current National-led government in April, including proposed changes introducing a $48,000 wage floor for any migrants wishing to enter the country under the Skilled Migrant Category, and a $73,000 floor for those whose occupations are not on the skilled list.

‘Take a breather’

Announcing the policy, Labour Party leader Andrew Little said it was time for a breather on immigration.

The “moderate, sensible reforms” proposed would “reduce the pressure on our cities while ensuring we get the skilled workers our country needs,” he said.

“New Zealand is a country built on immigration. When new migrants come here, they enrich our country and make New Zealand a better place. We’ve always welcomed migrants to our country, and will continue to do.”

But little added that at 130,000, or the population of Tauranga, four times more people had arrived in New Zealand since 2013 than had been forecast.

“After nine years, National has failed to make the necessary investments in housing, infrastructure, and public services that are needed to cope with this rapid population growth. It’s contributed to the housing crisis, put pressure on hospitals and schools, and added to congestion on roads,” he said.

Immigration needed to be sustainable, he said. “We reviewed the system from top to bottom and found that several areas were being abused and not delivering the results Kiwis expect.”

Existing policies had created “a backdoor to residency via low-level study and low-skill work, he said. “These have had the perverse effect that a 23-year-old with a New Zealand diploma and three years’ experience in retail can get more points towards residency than a 45-year-old Oncologist who wants to migrate here.”

A third of international students studying at PTEs say they plan to work or seek residency here after study, Little said. “Closing off the ability to work during and after study for people who do low-level courses will stop backdoor immigration. We will end the culture of exploitation and corruption that’s grown up to prey on people using this route to come to New Zealand.”

However, Labour would seek to ensure employers got the skills needed, Little said, referencing improved regionalization of skills shortages lists, the new ‘Exceptional Skills Visa’ and Kiwi Build Visa.

Kiwi Build Visa

The three-year Kiwi Build Visa would seek to attract 1,000 to 1,500 tradespeople at a given time. These places are expected to be additional to construction work visas issued under existing rules, Labour said.

The new visa would allow employers to not have to apply the existing local Labour Market Test for work visas if they promised to take on a local apprentice at the same time, per migrant. Labour said its ‘Dole for Apprenticeships’ scheme would help cover some of the cost to employers taking on apprentices.

Employers tapping the Kiwi Build visa will be obliged to pay at least the ‘living wage’ to every migrant trade worker in the country under that category.

Exceptional skills

Meanwhile, up to 1,000 people, every year will be able to come to New Zealand under a new ‘Exceptional Skills’ visa. The category will be available to people who can show they are on the long-term skills shortage list and have significant experience or qualifications beyond that required or are internationally renowned for their skills and talents.

Successful applicants will avoid the usual point’s system requirements for a Skilled Migrant Category visa, and would be allowed to bring their partner and children within the visa; the 1,000 setting includes partners and children.

Student visa cuts

Labour said it would stop issuing student visas for courses below a bachelor’s degree which are not independently assessed by the TEC and NZQQ as being of “high quality.” It will also limit the ability to work while studying to international students at bachelor level or higher unless a course below that has the ability to work approved as part of that course.

MBIE would be involved in a process to determine whether courses offering qualifications below bachelor’s level would be suitable enough for student visa applications.

“In recent years there has been a substantial increase in low-level study and reports of sham courses being used as a route to work and eventual residency. Many stories have emerged of people being exploited both in their home countries and in New Zealand by people offering study as a backdoor to residency,” Labour says in its policy document.

“Making these changes is expected to reduce net migration by around 6,000 to 10,000 a year in returning the number of international students in low-level courses at Private Training Establishments closer to their previous level,” it says.

Labour said it does not expect the plan to adversely impact universities, polytechnics or schools. “We estimate our plan to introduce three years free post-school education will see domestic enrolments grow 15%, reversing the projected decline under National,” it says.

Post-study work

Applications for the Post Study Work – Open visa will be limited to graduates who studied at bachelor’s level or higher. “Currently any international student who has completed a course long enough is able to apply for a one-year work visa without having a job. This work visa and the prior qualification have become a loophole to gain a longer-term work visa and residency,” Labour says.

“As with the ability to work while studying, this avenue into work after study has fostered an industry of low-value courses that don’t deliver real education but serve as a backdoor route for immigration. It is damaging our international reputation and places pressure on our infrastructure. Labour’s proposed approach is a middle ground. It does not remove the visa entirely, as occurred in the UK in 2012.”

Regionalized shortages, labour market test

Labour said a new regionalized skilled visa system would “work with local councils, unions and business to determine where shortages exist.” It will require skilled immigrants to work in the region that their visa is issued for.

“This will prevent skills shortages in one region being used to justify work visas in another, while also making it easier for regions with specific needs to have those skills shortage met.”

Labour said it would also develop training plans with industry training organisations in regions with shortages, “so that the need for skilled workers is met domestically in the long-term.”

Meanwhile, more active enforcement of the labour market test will ensure employers seeking migrant workers for occupations not on the skills shortage lists have to have offered locals at least market rates of pay and working conditions and have plans in place for training locals.

Skilled Migrant Category and age bonus points will also be standardised. “Currently older, higher-skilled and experienced workers from overseas are at a disadvantage to recent graduates and temporary workers already in New Zealand. This change will ensure skilled migrants are chosen on the basis of the skills and experience they offer not where they have most recently lived.”

Posted in Immigration, New Zealand, Study Abroad, Visa and Immigration, Work Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Apply Student Schengen Visa

How to Apply for Student Schengen Visa

How to Apply for Student Schengen Visa

How to Apply for Student Schengen Visa

A student visa best translates into a genuine authorization the government of the designated country issues to students who are already accepted at a certified educational establishment. The holder of this type of visa is not required to have the citizenship of the designated country in order to follow studies yet it is no immigrant visa either. Every student with the citizenship of a country that requires a visa to enter the Schengen zone must obtain a student visa in order to follow studies in the educational institute of the designated Schengen country.

Who needs a Schengen Visa?

The students who are not citizens of any European country yet still wish to come and study in Europe must apply for Schengen student visa. Together with the visa, if the duration of the studies is longer than 90 days as it happens with most of the students that wish to complete a whole academic year or even more, students must also apply for the residency permit that allows you to reside in the designated country for a period of one whole year.

What documentation is required?

First of all, the student must download the application form from the internet and fill it completely and sincerely. You can electronically fill in the form for a Schengen Visa and print it out. The signed application form must be followed by other mandatory documents, handed personally at the consulate/embassy or the representative of the country you are planning to study in.

A valid travel document/ passport (At least 3 months up to its expiration date)

Documentation to prove how you intend to support your stay in Europe. You may present the following as a proof of means of subsistence: cash in convertible currency, traveler’s cheques, cheque books for a foreign currency account, credit cards or any other means that guarantees funds in hard currency.

Proof regarding your accommodation. This is not necessarily required in case the students proves that he/she will have sufficient funds to maintain themselves during their stay in the foreign Schengen country.

  • Two current passport-sized photos (Appropriate for the designated embassy /consulate)
  • Travel itinerary
  • Medical/travel insurance valid for your entire stay in the Schengen country
  • Letter of acceptance from your university
  • A bank receipt to prove you have paid the processing fee

Depending on the embassy/consulate that you will be applying to, they might require additional documents to assure the request and the information are genuine, as for example, some embassies/consulates require a certificate that proves you have no legal issues pending or a criminal record. As the students must personally hand the documentation at the previously made appointment (as usually it is required), the person in charge at the embassy/consulate will notify you if there is any additional documentation needed and the nature of that documentation.

Where to submit the application?

You have to submit your application for a Schengen Visa to the consulate or embassy of the country where you will be starting your studies.

How long is the visa valid for?

The Schengen visa is commonly valid for stays no more than 90 days. For the students who are planning to study in the Schengen country, it is mandatory to apply for a residency permit to the appropriate authorities. Commonly, you apply for the residency permit after you arrive at the Schengen country with the Schengen visa.

The great thing about the residency permit is that it allows you to freely travel throughout the whole Schengen area, without any additional documents needed. The residency permit is stamped in your passport. The Schengen visa validity is predetermined by the authorities the day you have issued the visa. As aforementioned, as a student visa it commonly encompasses duration of up to 90 days, with multiple entries, however, that is no rule. During that time, students are allowed to travel in and out of the designated country, within the Schengen area. However, you have to notify the authorities if you intend to make trips in and out of the Schengen space.

Schengen Visa requirements for students who are already on a student visa

If you are already living on a student visa in some other country out of the Schengen Zone yet you wish to visit Europe apropos the Schengen area, you are to apply for a Schengen visa first. Beware of two essential issues first regarding the matter: you must be living in the country you hold the student visa for, for at least one month before you can apply for a Schengen Visa and you can only make a visa application while you are still studying in that country. If you want to travel around Europe after you have completed your studies you must submit your visa application in your home country.

Before you apply for the Schengen visa make sure you have all the mandatory documents in order. The documents required for applying for a Schengen visa are as follows:

  • Fully and appropriately filled application form (signed as well).
  • Your passport with the residence permit stamp.
  • Two current passport-size photos (Photo detail according to the embassy/consulate requirements)

The University official letter that states that you are a full-time student of the certain institution. The original, signed and stamped, not the copy is handed to the authorities. The document must not be older than one month. Some embassies/consulate also requires a document from the University that allows the student to travel in the designated period of time.

  • Original bank statement that covers last full month and shows sufficient funds.
  • Travel itinerary including booked return ticket and accommodation. (Once they issue the visa, they will ask for the purchased ticket and paid accommodation.
  • Travel Insurance that covers the days on the itinerary.

How long does it take to receive the visa?

It takes a maximum of 3 months to get a reply after one has applied for a Schengen visa in order to study in Europe. In case one doesn’t receive any response during this time (commonly the appropriate authorities reply even if the response is negative), one must assume that the request has been denied.  For student visas, the usual response is delivered in about 1 month.

Posted in Europe, Germany, Schengen Visa, Spain, Study Abroad, Visa and Immigration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa

The Schengen Visa has made traveling within an area of 26 countries easier than ever before. When you travel under a Schengen visa, once you’ve arrived in the country you will be able to travel to member countries freely without a systematic process of custom controls, passport checks, etc. It is possible, however, that there are random checks that can apply during border crossings. This article will discuss who needs a Schengen visa, what the advantages are, and what steps you need to take to obtain a Schengen Visa.

Who is Eligible?

The Schengen visa is available to travelers coming to the Schengen area for the purpose of leisure, tourism, studying, visiting family or business for up to 90 days in a 6 month period. If you have a multiple-entry visa, you will be able to leave and return as many times as you’d like within the 6 month period, but the total duration of time in the Schengen area cannot exceed 90 days.

What Countries Accept the Schengen Visa?

There are 26 countries that use the Schengen visa, 22 countries are part of the European Union and the other 4 are non-EU members. While these countries are part of Europe, it’s important to note that not all European countries fall under this agreement.

Currently, these Schengen countries include:

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Denmark
  5. Estonia
  6. Finland
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Greece
  10. Hungary
  11. Iceland
  12. Italy
  13. Latvia
  14. Liechtenstein
  15. Lithuania
  16. Luxembourg
  17. Malta
  18. Netherlands
  19. Norway
  20. Poland
  21. Portugal
  22. Slovakia
  23. Slovenia
  24. Spain
  25. Sweden
  26. Switzerland

Understanding the Process

When to Apply

To obtain a Schengen visa, you can apply no earlier than 3 months in advance of your arrival. It can take up to 15 days to process a visa application, and it can be delayed 60 days if further investigation is conducted. Be sure to leave yourself sufficient time so that you can commit to the dates of your planned journey.

Where to Apply

If you will be traveling to one country, in particular, you will apply for the Schengen visa at that country. If you plan on traveling to multiple countries, then you will want to apply to your primary destination country. If there is no primary destination, then you should apply to the country you will enter into first.

Documentation Needed

You will need to complete the visa application form and attached a good quality passport photograph in the dimensions of 35×45 mm. The passport you submit should be valid at least 90 days after your visa expires and cannot be older than 10 years.

You will need to go in person to get your visa taken care of. Once issued the Schengen visa, you will receive a stamp on the first empty page in your passport that will include:

  • Visa Type
  • Date of Application
  • Country code of the country handling the application

The process can vary slightly depending on the country issuing the visa. Be sure to check with them directly and in advance of applying for the visa. When you arrive for your appointment, you will be evaluated as far as what danger you may present to national security, international affairs, and to the general public. Common documentation requested includes the following:

  • Proof of funds to cover travel and accommodations
  • Hotel reservations, invitation from individual or organization, guarantor’s declaration
  • Documentation showing intent to return to home country
  • Medical health insurance meeting their minimum requirements
  • Proof of reservations for travel
Posted in Business / Investor Visa, Europe, Germany, Immigration, Schengen Visa, Visa and Immigration, Work Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment