Table of Contents
Thank you for your comment! Once approved we will get back to you shortly.
SOUTHERN MAN IMMIGRATION BLOG
New Skilled Migrant Policy For New Zealand Explained
The Minister of Immigration has today announced changes to the skilled migrant category to be implemented next year. On one level it looks quite simple but drilling down it won’t make much difference for migrants coming to New Zealand – they still have to find jobs to get visas.
Down the years immigration policy criteria has become, arguably, more and more difficult for many immigration officers to understand let alone implement. That has not just contributed to backlogs but to inconsistent outcomes.
Today’s announcement was a dumbed down policy for a dumbed down bureaucracy.
As I have predicted it is not being rolled out until ‘mid 2023’. The reason for that is obvious – there’s still 60,000 Resident Visas, most of which are for people promised ‘fast track’ that are sitting gathering dust.
Here are the key points:
- The skilled migrant “points” system that was closed in March 2020 is now reopening. Anyone who thinks they score 160 points under the criteria in place when the policy was suspended in 2020 can now file an expression of interest only until 9 November; then
- The system will then take a holiday till 18 January 2023 when only those who (think they) score 180 points under the criteria that were in place in March 2020 can file an EOI and they will be selected with pool draws taking place. everything three weeks; then
- In “mid 2023” a new system will be put in place, the broad details of which have been released as a proposed policy so will likely have some tweaks.
- There will be no annual quota of skilled visas. That is potentially huge – we now have an annual quota of infinity.
- Accredited Employer Work Visas can now only be issued for three years then holders must leave the country for 12 months before returning. That was not announced by the Minister, but contained in the fine print in another document. That’s a radical departure.
Under the proposed new system points will no longer be awarded for age or overseas work experience but the primary applicant must still be under the age of 56 (presumably when they are invited to apply for residency).
Applicants will continue to be tested for their English language ability (and one must assume partners and children aged over 16) and must have an acceptable standard of health and character.
Applicants will continue to be required to secure skilled employment or hold an offer of skilled employment but no points are going to be awarded for it
No points will be granted for overseas work experience but will be for a maximum of three years of New Zealand work experience.
Qualifications, NZ registration or NZ salary ‘points’
Points will only be awarded for one of the following three criteria:
(i) having registration in New Zealand with the appropriate occupational body. The quantum of the points granted will depend on how long it would take a New Zealander in terms of study/training/work experience to secure that registration. A doctor therefore would get more points for this criteria than a school teacher (for example minimum six years study versus four years); OR
(ii) University level study – bachelor’s degree (Level 7) being the minimum (3 points) and PhD attracting the maximum points (6). Honours and masters degrees in the middle at 4 and 5 points respectively; OR
(iii) the job on offer in New Zealand pays a minimum of 1.5 times the median salary. By the time the policy rolls out in the middle of 2023 that means a salary based on a 40 hour week of around $92,000 a year.
No points for trade or technical qualifications or for Diplomas or Certificates.
At first blush it looks simple. Looks can be deceiving of course. A closer examination reveals plenty of potential risks for applicants.
What does a good candidate look like?
Could be a 55-year-old, BSc holder with a job offer paying NZ$100,000. Under the proposed new system that person scores 3 points (not a typo) for the degree (if it is comparable to a NZ degree)
Or the Doctor with NZ Medical Council registration. S(he) scores 6 points for having registration in NZ that represents greater than or equal to 6 years of study/training.
Or a welder offered $95,000 a year. S(he) scores 3 points for earning 1.5 times the median salary.
What is the pass mark going to be?
Everything suggests a minimum ‘pass mark’ of 3 points and a maximum of 6 (or 9 if the government was stupid enough to make everyone work for three years before being able to apply for residence).
Which cuts out a lot of people if the pass mark is 4. Even more, if it is 5 and only the academically or financially ‘elite’ can get to 6 points.
For many then the risk will be too great.
The whole policy has a bit of a ‘white privilege’ look about it created by a bunch of chardonnay swilling political studies graduates who always seem to think what they see in the mirror in the morning would make the perfect immigrant. A single point change in the pass mark is going to for example cut out all the bachelor degree holders and only reward Honours degree holders. Two points higher and you’ll be needing a Maser degree.
No ‘cap’ on numbers
The greatest issue that I see is that with no annual quota the only way of controlling numbers is by increasing (or decreasing) the points required to gain the Resident Visa. The Minister glossed over this today. This policy will never be open slather.
Part of me thinks the New Zealand government has thrown the gauntlet down for employers who have been saying for years, including pre-Covid, that they are creating too many jobs and there are not enough locals to fill the roles. Not untrue but they always had the opportunity of recruiting overseas till the border closed and most chose not to. Well, the border is now open. Engage the visa process or frankly, stop whining, is I suspect how the government probably sees it. And I agree.
For the migrant this new process will still involve getting a job which usually means a visitor visa to come and find the job, a work visa once the job is secure followed by a resident visa application. Nothing has been put in place that recognises the existence of the ‘chicken and egg’ (no work visa means no job but no job means no work visa) which is the single greatest barrier that exists for skilled migrants wanting to settle in NZ.
Furthermore I would not trust this government (or any Government) to deliver a quick resident visa processing timeline. A year ago this Government promised ‘fast track’ residence to 200,000 people. A year on they have processed half of them. And those RV2021s were the simplest of visa applications to assess and process. And INZ can’t get through them.
If I was a glass-half-full kind of guy I’d conclude the government has tweaked a policy that wasn’t broken but made it, at least on the surface, simple enough that those implementing it should be able to understand. I think the policy looks quicker to process but not sure getting a residence is going to be any easier.
In the NZ or Australia debate, Australia still looks like the better bet for most.
Until next week
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Iain has been working as an Immigration Adviser since 1988 and has been running his own practice since 1990. In 1998 he merged his practice with Myer Lipschitz leading to the creation of Protea Pacific Limited which was rebranded in 2008 to IMMagine New Zealand Limited...
Want to know if you're eligible?
Complete a FREE Evaluation
SOUTHERN MAN ON INSTAGRAM
- Ambiguous Policy (7)
- Australia (44)
- Australian Immigration (16)
- Australian Work Visas (8)
- Covid-19 (9)
- Economy (16)
- Education (4)
- Government (5)
- Health (1)
- Housing (2)
- Immigration (16)
- Immigration Guides - Australia (10)
- Immigration Guides - New Zealand (0)
- INZ (16)
- Lifestyle (30)
- Medicals (1)
- Migration (11)
- Migration Agent (7)
- New Zealand (56)
- NZ Visas (6)
- Opinion (7)
- Partner Work Visas (1)
- Policy Updates (9)
- Politics (20)
- Skilled Migrant (18)
- Uncategorized (12)
- Visas (25)
- Work Visa (11)
Want to know if you're eligible?
Complete a FREE Evaluation