'Frivolous' migrant visas shatter hopes, dreams
By Lincoln Tan
4:00 AM Tuesday Jan 26, 2010

Immigration New Zealand's "frivolous" issuing of work-to-residence visas is being questioned by migrant support groups as the country's unemployment rate hits new highs.

The agency issued 2261 work-to-residence visas and permits last year despite 44 per cent of those immigrants already here on such visas failing to find employment.

Immigration New Zealand says the scheme allows people who want to live in New Zealand to test their skills against the local labour market, and they know that if they cannot find work they will have to leave.

But Agnes Granada of the Migrant Action Trust said the system was frivolous and totally irresponsible because it was destroying people's lives.

"The work-to-residence permit is not a straight work permit, and migrants come here on the promise of permanency once they can get employment - but when there are no jobs for them, it becomes a trap."

New Zealand's unemployment rate is 6.5 per cent and figures released last week showed the number of people on the unemployment benefit rose 13 per cent last month to 66,328.

More here.