Announcement from the Minister of Immigration via Immigration New Zealand:

As our Skill Forum partners I just wanted to let you know that today the Minister of Immigration announced changes to the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. Below is some more information and context about these changes that could be interesting if not relevant for you or some of your members.

 What is changing?

Two changes to the Skilled Migrant Category have been announced:

  • the points threshold for selection has been increased from 140 to 160 from 12 October 2016 (regardless of whether an applicant has a job offer)
  • the way applicants show evidence that they meet the minimum standard of English language is changing

This change is expected to reduce the number of people approved for residence by approximately 5,200 people a year, and will affect people employed across a range of sectors and occupations.

Why the change?

New Zealand is currently a popular destination, and therefore there is a very high demand for places under the Skilled Migrant Category. To ensure that this demand is managed effectively, the Government has set the total planning range of Skilled Migrant Resident Visas to be granted across the 2016/17 and 2017/18 years at 50,500 to 57,500. If Immigration New Zealand was to continue to select Expressions of Interest using the same thresholds as before, more visas would be granted than the planning range allows.

What does this mean for employers and their staff?

It will be more difficult for some migrants to obtain residence in New Zealand. There is no single type of person or industry who will be affected by this change as points are awarded for a wide range of factors. Check the Skilled Migrant Category criteria on our website for the full details of what points can be claimed for.

All other policies, including work and work-to-residence, remain unchanged. If an employee is no longer able to qualify for Skilled Migrant Category, they may be able to apply for a temporary work visa or work-to-residence visa based on their job offer.

If an employee is in the process of applying for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, they will be contacted directly by Immigration New Zealand today.

More information

Our website contains full information about the changes to the New Zealand Residence Programme, including a Skilled Migrant Category Q&A.

NZRise employers feel free to contact Victoria MacLennan or Paul Ramsay who represent NZRise members at the Digital Skills Forum should you have any questions about this announcement.

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