The Government has announced it’s reopening the skilled migrant and parent visa categories.
Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced the changes before members of the business and migrant community in Auckland today.
He says it’s part of plans reconnecting New Zealanders to the world.
“As the world recovers from Covid-19, labour shortages continue to be a global symptom,” Wood said.
“We are listening closely to the concerns of businesses, many of whom have approval to hire migrants but are finding it difficult to recruit internationally in a constrained labour market.”
Wood said today’s changes, which will “work in tandem with the immigration changes already made”, is expected to help ease labour shortages and “ensure a competitive edge to attract talent to New Zealand”.
The skilled migrant category will resume under the current settings to help attract more workers, with the first selection beginning at 160 points, Wood said. It will be followed by selections at an increased threshold of 180 points to “better align with the future direction of the category and our rebalance goals”.
“Over 12,000 international migrants have applied for 511 different occupations across New Zealand since the accredited employer work visa opened. The skilled migrant category provides a pathway for retaining the majority of these much needed skills in New Zealand permanently, strengthening our nation’s resilience to global shocks and economic security into the future.
“雇用持认证雇主工作签证(Accredited Employer Work Visa，简称AEWV工签)自实行以来，有超过511个不同岗位的超过1万2千人申请。技术移民能留住人才在新西兰急缺的技术岗位上，同时增强国家未来在经济安全和全球危机的抗击能力。
“Getting the long term settings of the category right is important for New Zealand’s future economic security, and ensuring that we can attract and retain high skilled talent.”
The Government will also be beginning consultations on a “proposed new system that will future-proof the category and will further complement the new green list and highly paid residence pathways”.
Restrictions in the previous system’s planning range saw just 40% of skilled migrant category applicants processed in 2019.
The Government’s proposed changes, which include the removal of the planning range, will allow all applicants who meet the criteria to be processed, he said.
It will also simplify the points system with “a clear, fair and transparent eligibility threshold and offer several ways for people to demonstrate their skill level”.
Very highly skilled migrants, such as university lecturers, will also expect to see a “faster route to residence” under the proposed changes, while other professionals will have a clear route if they work for a period in New Zealand.
“The new system will improve processing times and there will be no cap on the number of people who can gain residence each year, if they meet the skills threshold.”
The Government has also announced changes to the Parent Category Visa, with the number of parent resident visas granted per year set to increase to 2500 per year, while the income thresholds will be reduced.
“We recognise the importance for migrants resettling here to have a pathway for their parents to join them,” Wood said.
“Restarting the parent category is the right thing to do, and will see New Zealand become an even more attractive destination for high skilled migrants looking to resettle long term, knowing they can do so with their families.
“Alongside reopening and modernising the category it means more family reunifications.”
The category will see a lower income threshold for sponsors, a new ballot, and the resumption of selecting expressions of interest from the existing queue beginning November 14.
Up to 2000 visas a year will be granted to people with existing expressions of interest, Wood said.
In addition, any new expressions of interest submitted from October 12 will go into a ballot rather than be added to the existing queue.
“Moving to a ballot means people will avoid a lengthy queue and they will be eligible for selection for two years after submitting their expression of interest.”
A further 500 visas per year will be granted from the ballot, starting with the first selection in August 2023.
“Through our reconnection plan and changes to immigration settings we have a system that works for New Zealand long-term.
“We have created an immigration system which is responsive to international factors, while giving New Zealanders confidence that there is a plan and robust principles underlying how we manage immigration.”
Wood said while many businesses are doing it tough, there are “positive signs”.
“We are seeing a strong demand for the Working Holiday Scheme, with more than 30,437 applications approved since March, with arrivals expected to pick up in the coming months.
“We recognise the important role the immigration system plays in our nation’s economic future. We are committed to working with businesses to ensure we are striking the right balance.”
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