30 Sep 2021

'This will really help a lot of our migrants' - Farmers cheer visa plan

1:33 pm on 30 September 2021

The farming sector is welcoming a new one-off visa that's expected to give thousands of primary industry workers and their families permanent residency in New Zealand.

The government this morning announced plans for a one-off residency visa to help up to 165,000 migrants currently in Aotearoa, including about 9000 thousand primary industry workers.

Farming groups, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, have been calling for a pathway to residency for migrant workers since the government put a stop on applications during the first Covid-19 outbreak in March last year.

They said workers were being lost to Canada and Australia, which had been offering a greater chance of residency.

Ashburton immigration advisor Maria Jimenez said today's announcement would help keep more skilled migrants, including farm workers, in New Zealand.

Her phone had been bombarded with messages from migrants who were happy about the news.

"I'm so ecstatic, so elated and so, so happy ... this will really help a lot of our migrants."

Southland dairy farmer Jason Herrick said two of his migrant staff had recently decided to move to new jobs overseas because New Zealand's border restrictions had left them separated from their families for too long.

He said the visa would help give business owners security that their staff would be able to stay long-term.

"It's a great announcement, it really is ... But in my opinion, it's also five months too late. Because a lot of people have gone out of New Zealand already."

Herrick said unless the borders opened, it would take a very long time for migrant workers to be reunited with their families, which was incredibly hard on them.

"The borders are still closed ... [so] they still have that hanging over their heads, which is why more boys are leaving because they wanted to see their families."

"I can't even imagine what they're going through. To be honest. I couldn't do it, I couldn't be away from my family."

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