Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 29 August 2023 - Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration, the Honourable Mark Brown, yesterday endorsed a draft Immigration policy change proposal from Te Kauono Tutara e Te Mana Tiaki – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI).
The proposal was drafted in response to a number of objections from the private sector 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.
"The proposal drafted by MFAI responds to specific issues I’ve elevated with them following concerns raised by our 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 renewal,” said Prime Minister Brown.
“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.”
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) has also reviewed the fees detailed in the Immigration Regulations 2023, and the recommendations emanating from that review will also be tabled for NLAB consideration when they meet next week.
"The proposed policy concessions are intended to provide interim relief ahead of the planned review of the Regulations in the second half of 2024,” said Acting Principal Immigration Officer, Chere Arthur. “The Regulations were approved in April 2023.”
“MFAI continues to encourage 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 contained therein,” added Arthur. "It is a new process, there is a wealth of information to digest, and the team can 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 Community.