Prime Minister Mark Brown. Photo: MELINA ETCHES /23071116
A draft Immigration policy change proposal has been endorsed by Prime Minister Mark Brown and is expected to be submitted to Cabinet, according to Te Kauono Tutara e Te Mana Tiaki – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI).
MFAI says the
proposal is in response to a number of objections from the private sector in
relation to components of the Immigration Regulations 2023.
The proposal will be
tabled with the National Labour Advisory Board (NLAB) at their meeting next
week for discussion ahead of a submission to Cabinet for approval.
On Monday, the Prime
Minister who is also the Minister for Immigration endorsed the draft
Immigration policy change proposal from MFAI.
Brown said the
proposal drafted by MFAI responds to specific issues he raised with them
following concerns raised by the private sector related to additional
employment, a grace period for visitor stay, provision for retiree stay, an annual
work permit and the removal of mandatory breaks and limitations on permit
The Ministry of
Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) also reviewed the fees detailed in the
Immigration Regulations 2023, and the recommendations proceeding from that
review will also be tabled for NLAB consideration when they meet next week.
The new regulation
which was approved by Cabinet on April 18, effective from June 30 this year,
was to support the full implementation of the Immigration Act 2021 that would
affect all current permit holders and new applications for residence, work,
investment, study and visit- but the business community was not happy with some
of the newly implemented provisions.
Earlier this month,
Prime Minister Mark Brown called for a briefing to discuss objections raised
against the new immigration regulations.
It was then revealed the
controversial regulations would be reviewed.
The Cook Islands
Tourism Industry Council submitted a summary to the Prime Minister outlining
the views of its members on the implications the new Immigration Regulations
will have on the workforce.
Brown had said some
practical solutions were required and that he hoped to have them addressed as
quickly as possible.
Tourism Industry Council President Liana Scott earlier said that the industry was pleased that some of its concerns had been heard and a review with practical solutions was likely to be attended to.
landscape has changed since Covid-19, not just in the Cook Islands but the world.
It is essential that proper consideration on the long-term effects of the
release of the latest employment Regulations on businesses, economy and people
is prioritised,” said Scott, who is also the general manager of the Muri Beach
In a statement from
MFAI, Brown said: “Given the wider implications of the concerns raised by our
private sector relating to employment relations concerning international
workers, I look forward to consideration by NLAB, which comprise
representatives of relevant government agencies, private sector and workers
representative entities, of the proposal and recommendations that will emanate
from that discussion.”
Immigration Officer, Chere Arthur said the proposed policy concessions are
intended to provide interim relief ahead of the planned review of the
Regulations in the second half of 2024. She said the Regulations were approved
in April 2023.
employers, employees, and individuals to book one-on-one sessions with the
Immigration Division to gain a better understanding of the visa and permit
regime and requirements.
Arthur said this was
a new process, there was a wealth of information to digest, and the team would
provide support with the application process.
It is expected post
NLAB consideration, a final policy proposal will be tabled with Cabinet before
the end of September 2023.
The National Labour
Advisory Board comprises representatives from Internal Affairs (Chair), Office
of the Public Service Commissioner (PSC), MFAI, MFEM, the Chamber of Commerce,
the Cook Islands Workers Federation, and a representative from the Fiji