Are you across the recent Immigration policy changes affecting New Zealand residence visas?

Earlier this month, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced immigration policy changes to the Government’s New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) for the next two years, effective from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2018.
New Zealand Immigration

What is the New Zealand Residence Programme?

The New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) manages the approval process for New Zealand residence visas. The programme comprises the following three visa categories, which reflect the overall goals of the New Zealand Government’s immigration policy:

  1. Skilled Migrant Category / Business Category: for skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs (and members of their immediate family)
  2. Family Category: for family members of New Zealand citizens and residents, which includes both uncapped categories (for partners and dependent children) and capped categories (for parents, adult children and siblings)
  3. International / Humanitarian Category: for meeting New Zealand’s international and humanitarian commitments, such as the country’s refugee quota and its ‘Pacific Access Category’

The NZRP sets specific parameters for the maximum number of residency visas that can be granted in any one year. It manages this by means of a ‘planning range’ that gives the immigration authorities the flexibility to make fewer residency visa decisions at times of lower demand, for example when the economy slows and fewer migrants are required.

The New Zealand Government regularly reviews the NZRP to ensure that the right number and skill mix of people receive New Zealand residency status, in order to deliver the maximum value for New Zealand.

Recent immigration policy changes – So what’s changing?

The recently announced changes are specifically aimed at better managing residency visa applications in the Skilled Migrant Category and the Family Category. The changes, in a nutshell, are as follows:

  • Reducing residency visa approvals to between 85,000 – 95,000 for the next two years
  • Raising the number of points required in the Skilled Migrant Category from 140 to 160 points.
  • Reducing the number of places under the Family Category’s capped categories to 2,000 per year and temporarily closing the Parent Category to new applications

The changes in more detail

Reducing the number of residence approvals:

The planning range for the NZRP is being lowered for the two years from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2018, from the previous 90,000 to 100,000 to 85,000 to 95,000 for the next two years.

Changes in the Skilled Migrant Category:

To help moderate the recent growth trends in applications under the Skilled Migrant Category, and ensure the number of these visa approvals falls within the revised planning range for the next two years, the ‘automatic selection mark’ for migrants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category is increasing from 140 to 160 points.

Raising the points will also ensure higher-skilled applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category get priority. This will help the country to strike the right balance between attracting those higher-skilled workers who are more likely to benefit the growth of economy-driving businesses on the one hand and managing the current overall demand by skilled workers in general on the other hand.

The changes to the Skilled Migrant Category also include changes to the way applicants give evidence that they meet this visa category’s English language requirements, which will result in more people having to take the formal English language test.

Changes in the Family Category:

There are two aspects to the changes being made to the Family Category. The number of places in the Capped Family Category (for parents, adult children and siblings) is reduced from the previous 5,500 to 2,000 per year. Also, the Parent Category is now closed temporarily for all new applications, while this Category undergoes a review. Therefore, as from 12 October 2016, the New Zealand Immigration Service will not be selecting any applications from the Parent Category Pool.

Need advice about the recent changes from an Auckland immigration lawyer?

If any of the recent changes to the NZRP’s residence visa policies concerns you, call your Auckland immigration lawyer at Quay Law as soon as possible.

We are experienced in immigration law and understand it can be confusing, and immigrating to a new country can be difficult and stressful.

We, therefore, make it our key priority when providing you with immigration advice to put your interests first and provide you with the right advice for your specific circumstances. Visit our website for more information about the full range of our immigration law services.

Visit our website for more information about the full range of our immigration law services.