November 2015
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In This Issue
Why The Block Builder Got Blocked
Online Visa Applications
Success Story
Introducing Mat Martin goodbye
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"Bill, I hope you remember me as a young Indian man who was stressed once and came to your office to get advice for student visa. I would like to appreciate your services again because your visiting fee which is $345, was very reasonable according to your services provided at that time. You helped me getting my student visa when I was asked to provide to be a bonafide student and you helped me getting my student visa approved just within few days. This time when I was seeking an immigration advice then only one name came to my mind and that was yours."


"This is my pleasure to write this letter as a thank you so much to Bill Milnes and the team from Laurent Law. I was recommended to Bill by a colleague in October 2012 when I was having issue with my work visa application. I was advised in everything, even if it's a minor change...because of his excellent experience, knowledge and professionalism, I finally got talent visa in March 2013...Thanks for all of your hard work, I will honestly reommend service of Laurent Law to my colleagues, friends and family that need immigration service in New Zealand."

Andi Family



Laurent Law Barristers & Solicitors
1st Floor, Target Building, 93 Dominion Rd
Mt Eden, Auckland, 1024, New Zealand
Ph.  +64-9-630-0411;  Fax  +64-9-630-0412

Every day we solve immigration issues created by the rules around New Zealand visas, and also by the way that those rules are used against people by Immigration NZ. What seems like "simple" visa applications are becoming more complicated all the time. We have highlighted some common issues in our law firm blog, and invite you to take a look.  
You can subscribe to our  law firm blog to hear up-to-date commentary on trends in the immigration field.

You can read the latest blog  here.

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Simon Laurent
LaurentLaw Barristers & Solicitors
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Why The Block Builder Got Blocked
Martin Laidlaw, the Scottish builder starring with Team Orange on   The Block NZ , has recently been saved from being deported.  He  
briefly became an overstayer
when Immigration refused his application for another Work Visa.  Fortunately, perhaps owing to public pressure to reinstate him, he  
g ot his visa back

to carry on working for the construction company which praised his high level of competence in the trade.
From the outside this all may look bizarre - and it is.  His employer supported his application for an Essential Skills Work Visa on the basis that he was highly qualified and indispensable to their work, and could train newer builders.  What they did not do, by the sound of it, is to re-advertise his job and contact WINZ to find out if there were New Zealanders who could replace him.
Essential Skills Instructions require employers to show that they could not find New Zealanders to fill the role held by someone whose Work Visa is ending.  Immigration's assessment whether the foreign worker should get a visa to do the job, over employing someone local, is called the "labour market test".  The rules specifically state that the person's value to the employer is   irrelevant   to this test.  Unfortunately, visa staff have to apply this rule.  We explained this in   an earlier post   which still applies now.
However, as Marty's company pointed out in one of the news stories above, this situation creates a tension between immigration law and employment law.  A migrant has been given a job on a permanent (read: indefinite) employment agreement.  While they are still working, the boss then has to advertise their job to hire someone else to replace them.  In the ordinary run of things, New Zealand workers facing this scenario would have a fair case for a personal grievance with the Employment Relations Service.
The difference here, though, is that if you are on a Work Visa you only have the lawful right to work up to the day the visa expires.  If it isn't renewed it is illegal for the employer to keep you on.  In fact recently the Immigration Act was changed to stiffen the penalties for employers who hire people who have no visa to work in that job.
What is problematical, though, is the way Immigration often ignores the case made by employers that they cannot find New Zealanders who are capable or willing to do the job.  Again and again we hear business owners complain that Kiwis in the job market are underskilled, unreliable, and have a poor work ethic.  However, Immigration is clearly being told to protect jobs for New Zealanders, sometimes irrespective of the realities which they are being told by frustrated employers.  It is as if they are lying when they protest that they really can't replace Kristina or Jaspreet, because they've learned from hard experience that local people just can't be found; or if they are, then they don't make the grade.  And don't even get them started about people referred by WINZ . . .
As a reality check, why not consider that it's much easier for most employers to hire New Zealanders than to get someone on a Work Visa?  For one thing, there is the paperwork, delay and uncertainty involved in supporting the visa application.  There may be language barriers, or even the more subtle lack of understanding of Kiwi work culture that can create obstacles to someone settling in with their colleagues.  In my view, this almost creates a presumption that an employer providing a job for a Work Visa applicant has good reasons why they can't fill the post from local talent.
You could say that one advantage of hiring migrants is that you can pay them less.  In some cases it's true that people are accepting lower wages for the sake of making a living here.  But that is a separate issue.  If the boss is underpaying, then the application can be declined for this reason - that New Zealanders would not be willing to work under those conditions.  Although the matter of salary is not totally separate from the labour market issue, it is central to saying that the employer is not genuine about being unable to find people to work for them.
Marty's case highlights a lack of practical sense in the policy settings.  Maybe it's time to say that it   should  be relevant if an employee is a key person in the business, is highly qualified, and can help upskill the local labour pool.  Protection of jobs for New Zealanders is important, sure, but so is protection of the stability and viability of New Zealand employers.  Make no mistake, hiring and re-hiring is an expensive and inefficient business while the new person learns the ropes - or has to be replaced if they turn out to be no good.
Immigration New Zealand is part of the Ministry of Business, Immigration and Employment (MBIE).  Time to refocus on the 'B'.
By Simon Laurent

Online Visa Applications  

Most Work, Visitor and Student applications can now be submitted online.  Bill Milnes at our office has been the trailblazer in filing applications online, and has scored some quick successes.
There are some very real advantages of filing online including:
  1. Prioritised processing with decisions being made within hours in some branches
  2. No need to work through the various 'Visa Application Centres' (VACs) except for providing passport
  3. Applicants from visa-free countries do not need to send their passports to INZ, their visa is issued in the form of an emailed letter
  4. Online application fees will be lower, once the new INZ fee schedule takes effect in December
The disadvantages are:
  1. Whoever is submitting the application must have a NZ Government 'Real-Me' ID and login
  2. The data entry and uploading of documents is time consuming
  3. Family groups can't do their online applications together yet
Perhaps because of the disadvantages, not many licensed immigration advisers or lawyers are using it. We have been running with the online system since it was set up and our clients have enjoyed the speed of decision making and not being without a passport for what may otherwise be several weeks.
It makes it easier for us to work with people applying from overseas, too.  You can email all the supporting documents as .pdf attachments - such as qualifications, Birth Certificates and CV.  Our firm's electronic document system is well placed to handle this new way of working.
Contact us to give it a try - or forward this Newsletter to a friend who needs it.

Success Story

We recently had a win on a Residence Appeal about a scenario which could affect South Africans in particular.

Our client had been sentenced in SA for a drink driving offence, to either pay a fine or serve 18 months in prison.  He paid the fine, so didn't have to go to goal.  South African law allows sentences to be given "in the alternative", which is not the case in New Zealand.

When he applied for Residence, Immigration believed that he was excluded from getting a visa because of the 18 month prison part of the sentence arrangement.  This is because section 15 Immigration Act 2009 prevents someone from being granted a visa if they have been sentenced to prison for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.

The Immigration & Protection Tribunal disagreed - its decision isn't available yet but hopefully will be shortly. It found that the prison term was never actually imposed.   It wasn't even suspended or deferred.  It was simply an alternative which fell away when our man paid the fine.

The IPT sent the case back for reassessment.  Our client is now entitled to consideration of a Character Waiver - that is, a decision whether to grant Residence in spite of his conviction.   Gathering evidence and preparing submissions for Character Waivers is something we are often called upon to do.  People are sometimes surprised at how much effort needs to go into it.  But if it means the difference between getting Residence, and not getting it, then it's probably worth it.
Introducing Mat Martin

Mathew joined us here at Laurent Law in November 2015. The whole team is excited to have Mat join us and bring his cheerful nature to the office every day.

Mathew graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (First Class) from the Victoria University of Wellington in 2014.

Before joining Laurent Law, Mathew worked as a legal analyst at a leading immigration consultancy. Mathew also has a number of years' experience working in refugee and immigration law, as a volunteer at a community services organization.

Mathew enjoys the human side of the law, helping real people solve real issues. He brings a fresh and enthusiastic approach to dealing with immigration matters and believes there is always a practical way to solve problems.

Mathew is happy to discuss any immigration issues you may have and looks forward to working with you. 

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