Being Especially Thorough...

Throughout our history, immigrants have come, established themselves and been joined
by other members of their families.  That process has brought us energetic individuals and strong families
who have enriched our economy and way of life.

- Stuart Anderson
Director/Trade and Immigration Studies, Cato Institute
February 1996

Immigration System Overhauled

Immigration policy has been overhauled, shutting the door to an estimated 10,000 hopeful immigrants and costing the Government $9 million in refunded fees.  The changes see the general skills category scrapped and replaced with an overhauled skilled migrant category with a new points system.  Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said the most "significant change in immigration policy in a decade" would hit many people immediately.  There is a backlog of more than 20,000 applicants under the current system who will be caught up by the legislation that takes effect from tomorrow.

Of the 20,000 current applicants at risk of being lapsed, those already in New Zealand would be better off than those applying from overseas.  "They will be distinctly advantaged, the ones in New Zealand, particularly those that already have a skilled job offer... they will go to the top of the list," Ms Dalziel said.

The Government introduced two bills immediately after the announcement - the Immigration Amendment Bill and the Immigration Amendment Bill (No 2).  It intends passing the second bill under urgency this week, with the major changes taking effect from tomorrow.  It will apply retrospectively.  Ms Dalziel estimated up to 10,000 of those caught by the new legislation would not meet new priority criteria and their applications would have deemed to be lapsed.  Refunding their application fees would cost the Government $9 million.  "The backlog is going to be prioritised and those that meet the priority will continue to have their applications processed... the rest will be lapsed," Ms Dalziel said.

Many of those who applied would have never gained successful employment and were "going to fail.  There will be those who will be disappointed... but I believe it would be worse to bring people here, delay implementation for two years and then knowingly bring people here to fail."

The points system was flawed because it gave people false hope.  The main change means those seeking residency under the general skills category will no longer have the automatic right to have their application considered under the points system.  In the future potential immigrants would have to express an interest and if they are deemed worthy by immigration officials then are invited to apply.  Those who do not meet the grade will have no right of appeal.  The potential immigrant who clears the first hurdle would then work their way through a revamped points system.  "There is no point bringing talented and skilled people into New Zealand only to see that talent and skill wasted through unemployment or underemployment," Ms Dalziel said.

Ms Dalziel did not believe the changes would lead to the numbers of people coming to New Zealand drying up.  Almost $2 million would be spent enticing people to apply for residency.  The Government has a target of 45,000 migrants a year.  Of these 60% come in under the skill/business category and it is the general skills category which was would be changed to the revamped skilled migrant category.  The new points system would include bonus points for those with skills that were in short supply in New Zealand and for potential immigrants going to jobs outside Auckland.

Ms Dalziel also said there would be tougher screening of those expressing an interest, meaning many applicants who misled authorities would have no right of appeal.  The changes would also mean fewer people who qualified for residency would end up in dead end jobs.  "These changes are designed to ensure migrants who are selected because of their skills and talent are set up to succeed not destined to fail.  New Zealanders do not want to see skilled migrants driving taxis, cleaning offices and cooking hamburgers," Ms Dalziel said.

The new categories and points system would come into force later this year or early next.  In the meantime an interim category would fill the gap left by the dumping of the general skills category.  To qualify people would require 29 points and have a relevant job offer.  Ms Dalziel also signalled further changes to toughen up the medical tests and further changes to the investor category in August.

Last month, the Government said it would appeal a High Court ruling that thousands of potential immigrants did not have to sit new tougher language tests.  The initial ruling in May meant the Government's attempt in November to impose stricter English language tests retrospectively on some potential migrants failed.  Ms Dalziel said the sudden nature of today's law changes and announcements were necessary to stop a flood of applications.  Further tinkering with the points system was not the answer as New Zealand would have remained a "passive receiver."

Source: Stuff [New Zealand] 1 July 2003

So "In the future potential immigrants would have to express an interest and if they are deemed worthy by immigration officials then are invited to apply...", huh?  Obviously, no immigration official lives in a glass house.  This situation is ripe for bribery and corruption.  What were they thinking?

This English test is brought to you by those same immigration officials with the power to deem their fellow humans "worthy..."

Immigrant English Test a Tricky Wee Beast

by Kevin Norquay

Until today, I was a good keen Kiwi who could name the All Blacks captain, cook pipis on a camping ground barbie, walk in jandals, and spell Sir Edmund Hillary.  Then I tangled with International English Language Testing System, which the Government uses to assess the language skills of potential immigrants.  After sitting a specimen test, I am now an emotional wreck, feeling no longer worthy of my homeland as my English isn't up to scratch.

It's no surprise intending immigrants pay people to sit this test for them; it was hard enough for a journalist who got 70% in School Certificate English.  It starts with an academic reading, entitled "Wind Power in the US".  Putting aside the sheer boredom induced by that subject, it's a tricky test of comprehension.  Two enthralling pages on the history of wind power end with 10 questions.  Questions one to five involve putting the correct word in the right place.  Pencils ready?  Here goes:

bulletThe failure during the late 1970s and early 1980s of an attempt to establish a widespread wind power industry in the United States resulted largely from the _________________ in oil prices in this period.
bulletThe industry is now experiencing a steady _______________ due to improvements in technology, and an increased awareness of the power of wind."

There are five more paragraphs, but I'll spare you.

Immigrants have a list of 15 words they can insert in one of five places.  They are:

  1. criticism
  2. design costs
  3. failure
  4. operating costs
  5. growth
  6. success
  7. production costs
  8. stability
  9. fall
  10. recognition
  11. scepticism
  12. effects
  13. decisions
  14. decline
  15. results

The next section is multiple choice.  Alternative endings must be given to sentences such as

bulletThe potential of meeting 1/5 of the current US energy requirements by wind power _________________.

Then comes general training reading in which true-false or not given answers must be provided to 10 questions about a section on daybreak trips by bus.  (Actually the blurb says trips by coach - I have changed COACH to BUS to prevent you getting confused about why you would want to go on a day trip with John Mitchell).

In academic writing, immigrants get 20 minutes to write a report on a bar graph showing what percentage of 1950s, 1970s and 1990s travellers went by car, bike or foot.

Then comes a 40-minute dissertation on whether you agree or disagree with the statement "It is inevitable that as technology develops so traditional cultures must be lost.  Technology and tradition are incompatible - you can not have both together."  Off you go, 250 words please - use your own ideas, knowledge and experience, support your arguments with examples and relevant experience.

Next up, a 150-word letter complaining to a rental agency that your heating system has stopped working.  Explain the situation and tell them what you want them to do about it.

Now write for 40 minutes on whether you agree or not that bans on cigarette smoking in public places are a good idea, but take away some of our freedoms.

Done that?  Now for the speaking part.  In it, you must describe a teacher who has greatly influenced you.  You should say:

bulletwhere you met them
bulletwhat subject they taught
bulletwhat was special about them

Talk for two minutes, starting now ...

I approached political leaders to do the test.  New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was keen, his spokesman said.  Green Party co-leader Rod Donald was not.  "No," he said.  "I only got 35% for Bursary English."  ACT leader Richard Prebble, a Lizzie Rathbone scholar in English at Auckland University in the 1970s, backed himself to pass the test, and many to fail it.  "I think there is a need for an English language requirement, but this one's absurd," he said.  "I would think 40% of all school graduates and at least half of the adult population would fail."

The results have bands ranging from one to nine.  One is classed as a "non-user", with no ability to use the language beyond a few words.  Five is a "modest user", commonly described as having the ability to cope with study at secondary school.  Eight is a "very good user" with full operational command with only occasional mistakes.  Universities require undergraduates to pass the test at level six and postgraduate students to pass at 6.5.  The Medical Council requires foreign doctors to pass at 7.5.

I don't know what the requirement for journalists is, but if you read this, please don't tell my boss.  Thanks. - NZPA

Source: 20 November 2002

One important point not touched on in this article: Who will grade these tests?

For more articles on immigration, emigration, undocumented workers, overstayers, how to get in: NZ and Australia, costs, H1-B workers, scams, and quality of life please click the "Up" button below to take you to the Index page for this Immigration section.

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