Not Welcome

I have lived in Auckland for the last three and a half years. I love this city, and by extension this country. I have explored the city: found new places, food cuisines and occasionally new people. However, in the last year, Immigration New Zealand announced a flurry of changes which on paper looks like an attempt to push me out.

About two months ago, Immigration NZ announced a the discontinuation of six temporary work visas. The six visas are going to be replaced by a since temporary work visa. Furthermore, this visa can only be applied by the company which is hiring the migrant. The details are hazy at the moment and the change will roll in 2021. Furthermore, the hiring company needs to be accredited by the Government and should explain why an migrant is being hired and not a NZ citizen.

Pessimistically, no company will want to jump through any of the hoops that Immigration is imposing itself on it. Even if a company is willing to put itself through the torment of Immigration and its processing times, who will stop the company from exploiting the migrant.

Optimistically, things might not be dire as they seem to be, in fact could turn out to be better with these changes. But I am not sure, these changes seem targeted.

Last month, Immigration also announced the Parent Visas are going to be allowed once again, however the applicants children need to earn at $100000 per year. It is even by Immigration’s own estimate that this will make about 80% of applicants ineligible.

Recently, I was invited back to AUT as an alumni for a networking session with currently enrolled students. I met a lot of International students who asked me the same kind of questions I asked everyone when I was a student: How difficult it is to get a job? Are people nice here?

I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that things were easier when I graduated, Immigration NZ didn’t seem to be bent on pushing us out. We had a lot more options, a little bit more freedom than what you might have.

I couldn’t tell them that ‘Hey! Things are going to be harder for you.’

I understand the reasoning behind these changes. Part of it could be chalked up to pure xenophobia. Part of it to ensure that the citizens receive enough opportunities. The remaining parts could be fulfilling election campaign promises.

It is my empathy of Immigration’s motives that infuriates me. I wish that I was just single minded to blame the Government and therefore Immigration for making my life even more hard than it is already. I am still waiting to hear back from Immigration for my residency visa and I have applied ten months ago.

I wish that this was an overt (non-violent) racism that I could just ignore and move on. What am I supposed to do about policy changes in country that I have very little civil rights? Even if I had any civil right, would I have made any difference?

I wonder what is going to happen eventually. Will this place that I love so much turn hostile to the point that I couldn’t live here anymore? Or was it always like this and it is only now that I am discovering its anti-immigrant stance akin to how I discover a new food alley in the city? I don’t know.