Palmerston North man Winston Maciel says his concrete laying skills should be enough to earn him residency, but says he's been told by immigration officials it's not a skilled job.

The Uruguayan national and his wife Rosa, who have three children, first applied for residency 10 years ago and again in 2010 under the skilled migrant category.

Winston and 11 others were brought to New Zealand in 2005 to lay concrete, but after five years the company went bankrupt, he said. He now works for a different concrete laying company.

Winston said a staff member at Immigration New Zealand in Palmerston North called him a liar and said he was not legally married to Rosa.


But Michael Carley, manager visa services for Immigration New Zealand, said INZ staff act in a professional and friendly matter at every possible opportunity.

"Our staff log each call and client interaction to establish a record of events.

"We have no records of staff responding in such a manner and any such instances should be reported to our complaints process and will be dealt with accordingly."

Winston's boss, who did not want to be identified, said dealing with immigration was frustrating and always a drama.

"We have spent thousands on the applications. The government said there is a massive shortage of skilled workers. How can you class this job as unskilled?

"I said to Immigration that I could not send someone out to a $1.2 million house to do the concreting who was not skilled. They said 'That's not our problem'.

"Winston's been here 13 years and paid tax. There's no reasoning, it makes no sense."

Michael Carley said the most recent interaction Immigration New Zealand had undertaken with Winston Maciel was in 2016.

The last residency application Mr Maciel and his wife lodged with INZ was in July 2010 under the skilled migrant category, which was declined in 2011.

There had been no further applications for residency lodged with INZ since.

The Maciels' children had gained residency separately under partnership grounds, he said.

Rosa Maciel said she lost all her hair last year because of the stress.

"We work hard and we pay our taxes. We are not a drain on the taxpayer."

*This story initially said the Palmerston North Immigration New Zealand office closed in 2017. Although the public counter at the office closed in September last year, the office itself is very much open with more than 70 employees.