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Indian Chefs under fire from opposition leader

Opposition Labour Party leader, Andrew Little recently made controversial statements about immigration, saying ‘’the tap should be turned down to a trickle until economic conditions improve.’’ If he was in charge he says he’d put an immediate cap on immigration. This could mean bad news for migration policy in the future. See article here for more on this.

The most worrying part of this is that he specifically singled out Ethnic restaurants stating they should be hiring Kiwi Indian and Chinese chefs rather than bringing them in from overseas. Little says he singled out chefs because it’s just one example of semi-skilled migrants taking jobs that could be filled by Kiwis. Mr Little has since backpeddled on using that as an example after he was accused of targeting Chinese and Indian migrants.

The good news for chefs and other migrants is that Prime Minister John Key has ridiculed these statements. Some commentators have stated that unemployment fell in the final three months of last year so there is no need to panic.

However, this debate will not go away so easily – there are others supporting this call for more restrictions and it could yet be a crucial topic at the next election, especially if the economy slows and unemployment rises.

The figures indicate that there may be some fire behind this smoke.

  • New Zealand has continued to post record net migration arrivals, with a 67,400 gain in the 12 months ended February 29, led by arrivals from Australia, China and the Philippines.
  • Almost 10,000 chefs from 88 countries overseas have been given work visas in the past six years and of those 3885 are now residents.
  • Immigration NZ figures from 2011 to February show 9996 chefs from overseas were given visas. Of those, almost a quarter were from China and 16 per cent were from India – the two largest groups.
  • Immigration NZ figures also show a total of 20,962 work visas were given to the 10,000 chefs from overseas in the past six years, including renewals.

The occupation of chef is still on Immigration NZ’s long-term skills shortage list. However, some have suggested that it should be removed as there are many people who could do the job already in New Zealand.

In the 2013 Census, 22,300 people gave their occupation as chefs or cooks in 2013, a category which includes bakers and pastry chefs. A further 10,362 were cafe or restaurant managers.

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment figures show there was an 11 per cent increase in the number of job advertisements for chefs for the first quarter of this year compared to last year showing that the job market in this area is still growing and quite resiliant.

The top five countries for chefs approved for work visas over the last five years are:

  • China – 5,390
  • India – 3,803
  • Thailand – 2,154
  • South Korea – 2,009
  • Japan – 966

Conclusion

As we have seen in the USA, populist anti-migration policies can be very popular with people struggling to survive in a tough economy.
We could see Immigration come up as a political agenda at the next elections and depending on the results, things could well get more difficult for Chefs and some other workers.

So the moral of the story is – don’t hesitate if you can apply for residence now then get onto it.

Also, talk to us before making future study and or career plans which could affect your ability to get residence in the future. We will be keeping on top of this issue and will be sure to update you if there are any imminent policy changes.

Until next Time

Jig Patel – Managing Director