Hospitality industry still struggling to pull migrant chefs despite changes to immigration settings

The hospitality industry is still struggling to pull migrant chefs to Aotearoa despite changes to immigration settings. 

It comes after AM created a campaign last year to change the stringent requirements to get chefs into the country. 

It can now be revealed since the change was made, between October 18 last year and March 13, 909 work visas have been approved for chefs who have immigrated to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Of those, 504 were Accredited Employer Work Visas, and 193 were under the now-closed Essential Skills work visa category. The remainder were under a range of other visa categories. 

Immigration Advisor Katy Armstrong told AM the changes provided much-needed relief, but it's "still out of balance".

She said when numbers are compared to before COVID-19, the numbers are "well down".

"What's really missing in the whole equation is the fact, when we talk to a chef that wants to come here, most of them are looking for what is the long-term view."

Armstrong told AM co-host Ryan Bridge there is uncertainty in chefs who are considering coming to Aotearoa, about whether they "come in and get kicked out" or come and stay.

She said it's always been the case that not everyone can stay, but the problem is "are we in balance?".

"Unless you have a degree, you probably won't be able to stay. And most people, most chefs, don't have a degree, most don't. Some do, but most don't. And it's not necessarily the mark of a good chef. So we've still got problems.

"Imagine you moving to the other side of the world and being told, Well, you can come, but that's it. You've got a short leash and you then have to leave."

Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Julie White agrees, telling AM there needs to be a re-balance of settings.

White said she met with Immigration Minister Michael Wood earlier this week and told him "we cannot compete on the global scale".

"Chefs just aren't coming. They're going to Australia. And that is so annoying."

Despite the fact chefs are paid significantly more in Australia, White believes chefs are choosing our neighbour over us because they might not get residency here. 

Watch the full interview above.