The recent Covid-19 outbreak has had an unprecedented impact on global affairs. The airline industry, hospitality and immigration as well as economies throughout the world have been sent into a state of decline and have overall suffered greatly because of the far-reaching effects on this epidemic. It is recorded that New Zealand has lost $10 billion dollars under alert level 4. With businesses such as restaurants, cafes and general shopping outlets closed due to heavy “lockdown” restrictions in place, the burden on individual employees and the wider New Zealand society has been drastic.
Essential Skills work visas of migrants currently being processed will also meet heavy setbacks. This is because Immigration New Zealand is now placing heavier emphasis on employers giving New Zealand citizens priority for jobs which are being sought by migrants. This may be tied to the heavy economic slowdown and job cuts in New Zealand and globally whereby people throughout New Zealand are losing jobs. Hence, migrant workers are place in an even more vulnerable position whereby they are made to compete with an ever-growing number of Kiwi citizens who are also in search of new employment.
Some mitigating steps to deal with the current crisis have been taken, such as extending the visas of students, workers and interim visa holders whose visas were expiring between 2 April-9 July, to 25 September 2020. However, one must be critical of how effective such steps will be in the long term as the impact of COVID 19 on the economy and arrivals of foreign workers and students may even last for a year from now. Heavy travel restrictions may persist well into 2021, further limiting the capacity of employers to hire migrant workers. Students intending to study in New Zealand universities may face similar challenges in the following year and inevitably, the number of visas being processed and/or approved may not reach “normal levels”.
Hence, it is fair to speculate that a highly uncertain future may lie ahead vis a vis the state of the New Zealand and global economies as well as immigration in general.