How Immigration NZ's Recovery Visa Created 177 Overstayers

Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer

Efforts are underway at Waikanae post-Cyclone Gabrielle. Immigration NZ reports 1 in 6 overstaying on the recovery visa. Contact Immigration Lawyer NZ for any questions.

So, here's the latest immigration news on the fallout from Cyclone Gabrielle. Picture this: Immigration figures have revealed that one in six of the workers who entered New Zealand on the post-Cyclone Recovery Visa are now overstaying. Out of the 1,236 people who arrived to aid in the recovery efforts, only 72 have returned home, and a staggering 177 are now unlawfully in the country.

The Labour government in 2023, in its haste to attract engineers, insurance assessors, and heavy machine operators, ended up bringing in a lot of labourers and cleaners instead. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) reported a high rate of "non-genuine, fraudulent" applications with 40 percent being rejected. This wasn’t just a small oversight; it’s the same type of fraud we've seen with the accredited employer work visas, but worse. The visa fee was waived, and no accreditation was needed for employers, creating a perfect storm for exploitation.

It's almost laughable if it weren’t so serious. Ads in some countries were promoting this visa as a free pass to work in New Zealand, complete with YouTube videos suggesting you could get permanent residence after two years without needing an English test. Agents were reportedly charging up to $30,000 for a job and visa package. The scheme was closed to new applicants in September, but those already here can extend for another three months, applications for which close next month.

Government papers from last September showed the uptake for this visa category exceeded expectations, with funding set aside for 1,000 applicants. Instead, 1,600 were approved, including renewals and 255 who never showed up. This has drained the coffers dry.

What we’re seeing here is another example of a good intention turned into a bureaucratic blunder. Immigration NZ’s compliance team is now chasing down overstayers, trying to make contact with individuals who probably gave inaccurate information in the first place. It’s a mess, plain and simple.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that rushing policy without solid oversight is a recipe for disaster. The government wanted to move fast, and now they’re paying the price with overstayers, fraud, and a clean-up operation that’s far from over. This isn't just a mistake; it's a failure of planning and execution at the highest levels.

And let's be honest, this isn't a one-off. It's part of a pattern where the government jumps in with both feet and no plan. They need to get their act together and start thinking things through before launching into action. Because the cost of these mistakes is mounting, and it's you and me who end up paying for it.

And that's the immigration news for you today. Make sure to subscribe and follow to stay on top of what's happening in immigration in Aotearoa. Ka Kite Ano.

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Last modified on 27 June 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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