Migrants Concerned About New English Requirement for Work Visas

Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
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Exploited migrants in New Zealand fear forced return due to new English language rule for low-skilled work visas under AEWV scheme by Immigration NZ. The adjustment aims to prevent exploitation and sustain net migration. Contact Immigration Lawyer NZ for any questions.

Gday there, let's address a topic that's been a bit of a hot potato in NZ immigration news - the new English language requirements for work visas. And, boy, has it stirred up a storm. You see, the government's latest move to impose these requirements on those applying for low-skilled jobs is making waves, and not in a good way.

Here’s the deal - under the new accredited employer work visa scheme, if you're eyeing a level 4 or level 5 role, speaking basic English isn’t just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have. The government claims this is to protect migrants from exploitation and manage unsustainable net migration rates. Sounds reasonable, right? But as always, there's another side to this.

Meet Yu. She’s one of nearly 900 migrants currently on a migrant exploitation protection visa, and she’s not alone in her worries. Last year, 52,000 low-skilled migrants entered the country, and many, like Yu, now fear they can't meet this new language bar. Yu, who borrowed a whopping $20,000 to secure a visa and a job at a commercial laundry facility in Auckland, was underpaid and overworked. Now, with these new rules, her chances of securing another work visa look slim.

And then there’s Gong, a carpenter with over two decades of experience. After being duped into paying for a non-existent job, he finally found a legitimate role. But, guess what? Under the new rules, even that’s slipping away.

It's not just a couple of stories; it's hundreds of voices fearing their dreams are dashed because of a policy that was slapped on without a second thought for those already here, struggling, exploited, yet hopeful. They came under one set of rules, and now the goalposts have moved.

Now, I understand the need for regulation, the need to ensure that everyone in our workforce can get by in English. But what about compassion? What about fairness? These aren't just workers; they're people who've seen enough hard knocks and are just trying to make a go of it.

The government's stance? Firm. No exemptions, no grace periods. It’s all about protecting future migrants, they say. But who's looking out for those already here, those caught in the middle of policy shifts?

Here's a thought - instead of blanket policies and ticking boxes, how about policies that actually take into account real human situations? We're better than this, New Zealand. It’s high time for a bit of heart, a bit of understanding. Let’s not forget the faces behind these 'low-skilled' labels. They're part of our community, and it’s our duty to ensure they’re not just another casualty of abrupt policy changes.

So, as we sit here, sipping our morning coffee, let's mull over this - isn't it time our policies reflected not just the heads we’re counting, but the hearts we’re supposed to be looking after? Isn’t it time we did better?

That's the INZ news for today, catch you in my next video. Peace.

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author headshot Michael Yoon
Last modified on 24 May 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.
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