Do not pass go, do not collect $200
August 7 2017 by Scott Stevens
As an employer in Queenstown for 20 years, the challenge of finding and retaining good staff has never been more difficult than it is today. This is despite a growing permanent population widening the pool of skilled employees, and the desire of many more from elsewhere in New Zealand and abroad wanting to move to the Queenstown Lakes. Twenty years ago you could count the number of bars and restaurants in Queenstown on one hand and the number of supermarkets was zero. Frankton Flats was a farm with stock grazing the side of the airport runway. Believe me; it was hard to find staff back then. Although the population has increased, the number of businesses competing for skilled staff has far exceeded that population growth. So when an employer like me gets their hands on an employee who adds real value to the business, you fight desperately hard to hold onto them.
And that desperation can get pretty darn expensive when that special employee needs a work visa renewal or is applying for New Zealand residency. I would bet a Cow Pizza there is not a single business in Queenstown that does not have at least one person on the workforce who is either on a working holiday or essential skills visa; going for New Zealand residency; or is a new Kiwi. We are a town full of immigrants in a country of immigrants. This makes any changes to Immigration NZ policy and the way that policy is applied, very very relevant to employers and their migrant employees.
So when the perfect storm of foreign nationals on work visas get lined up ten deep on Monday morning in front of a Judge at the Queenstown District Court on drunk driving and other idiotic drink related charges, expect a tough response from Immigration NZ . Why wouldn’t we? Do not expect to collect another work visa as of right and do not expect to become a New Zealand citizen without some convincing special circumstances being proven. Immigration NZ are growing tired of the number of migrants on temporary visas adding convictions to their CV instead of the experience and qualifications those visas were intended to allow.
Like most Queenstown employers at any one time I am helping at least one employee apply for residency or to extend a work visa. Why? Certainly not because it is easier than employing a Kiwi or cheaper. It is expensive to navigate the Immigration NZ process and the results uncertain at the best of times, and even more so when one of these employees has to deal with Immigration NZ asking why they have been convicted of an offence against the very people who gave them the permission to stay here. There is an expectation that if you live here you must abide by the laws of the country, because if you don’t there are a lot of people in the queue who will.
We go through the visa process because we need to keep key members of staff. Those who add value and are worth the investment are always very hard to come by. But it has to go both ways. If you want to stay working in New Zealand, if you want to be a key member of staff and increase your pay packet, or if you want to call these mountains home permanently you need to show respect for the laws of the land. It’s not ok to urinate in public places, it’s not ok to have fisty cuffs at the taxi stand, and it is not acceptable to drive drunk on our streets.
Immigration NZ take a very dim view of such disrespect for the laws of New Zealand. Believe me, you do not want to be a migrant trying to secure a new visa after first having visited the Queenstown District Court.
Queenstown employer since 1997