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Immigration Blog

REGULAR POSTS FROM NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA

Shake Up of the Skilled Migrant Category

The Government has announced (or shortly will) a number of changes to the Skilled Migrant Category which take place today. On the face of it, it looks quite radical but upon closer reflection isn’t quite the ‘revolution’ the Government will paint it (and no doubt the media will swallow) and ...

Iain

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Shake Up of the Skilled Migrant Category

The Government has announced (or shortly will) a number of changes to the Skilled Migrant Category which take place today. On the face of it, it looks quite radical but upon closer reflection isn’t quite the ‘revolution’ the Government will paint it (and no doubt the media will swallow) and ...

Iain

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Shake Up of the Skilled Migrant Category

Posted by Iain on Oct. 11, 2016, 12:38 p.m. in Immigration

A few minutes ago the Government announced (or shortly will) a number of changes to the Skilled Migrant Category which take place today.

On the face of it, it looks quite radical but upon closer reflection isn’t quite the ‘revolution’ the Government will paint it (and no doubt the media will swallow) and is little more than a rearrangement of the deck chairs. Unless you are an international student hoping to get a resident visa in which case your future in New Zealand is looking fairly bleak...the Government is about to do to them what the Australians did to their international students a few years ago.

Our Government will today announce ‘cuts’ to migrant numbers but it appears to me to be a case of smoke and mirrors more than anything else in order to:

  • Take the wind out of the anti-immigrant NZ First party’s sails; and
  • Be seen to be taking additional pressure off Auckland house prices (some skilled migrants will now have to find jobs outside of Auckland); and
  • Close the doors on tens of thousands of international students that were promised open work visas upon completion of their studies by this Government as a pathway to residence. For most of them door has just been slammed shut in their faces and their futures lie outside of New Zealand.

The cuts, such as they are, are coming principally from the Family Stream and the overall target of migrants per immigration year is remaining about the same (at 85,000 – 95,000 over the next 24 months). So there is really no overall cut in substance.

The only real cuts apply to the Parent Category which sees numbers reduces from 5200 per annum to 2000. This is going to have the result of pushing out waiting times, but not the overall outcome for parents wishing to join their children in NZ.

From Wednesday 11 October all ‘classes’ of Skilled Migrants will have a fixed pass mark of 160 points. That is up from 100 for those with job offers and effectively means everyone will need a job offer to qualify.

As I have been pushing for some time now English testing is becoming mandatory. There will be exemptions but only for those from the USA, UK and Canada or for those with recognised qualifications from (and presumably studied in) those countries.

While this appears to be a radical increase in what is required to gain entry it really only impacts on those that have cannot squeeze out additional points by working for a period of time in NZ, work in an occupation which affords them previously unrequired bonus points, have family in NZ or a partner who can also get skilled work.

Our initial analysis, albeit without an enormous amount of information to go on apart from what we have learned from INZ; suggests most of our clients will be able to make an plan.

Those with recognised degrees (or higher) and even many with lower level qualifications such as tradesmen and Technicians will almost certainly still qualify if they get employment outside of Auckland and if they are in a relationship, get the partners out to work as well.

Unless...there is a twist in this tail.

We are reliably advised the Government recognises the potential negative impact on very high value migrants but who might not have degrees who have jobs in Auckland and a labour market screaming out for their skills – think IT specialists who are industry experienced but with no degree, CEOs without MBAs, senior management who came up through the ranks and the like who will be based in Auckland and have very high salaries and much to offer...INZ has been told to carry out some additional work which we expect to become policy in the next few weeks.

I understand that might involve additional bonus points being awarded for salaries over a certain annual level to compensate for the new pass mark. Or something which provides a similar and certain outcome.

The number I have in my mind is $70,000. No word on how those changes might translate into points but mark my words: such a change is designed to keep the Auckland job market open to those with high enough salaries (thanks to their being highly skilled) to warrant acknowledgment of the value they bring to the economy and the need for them in Auckland. Given it is the engine room of the economy what the Government is clearly trying to do here is to make sure that the finite numbers of skilled migrant places are taken up by the highly skilled and highly valued migrants and not recent international graduates with lower level qualifications. A bummer if your parents mortgaged their future in a village in Gujarat to send you to NZ for a better life but that’s Governments for you. I have spoken publically about the ‘tsunami’ of Expressions of Interest that will result (already is) in thousands of lower skill level applicants swamping the ‘pool’ for some time and telling anyone that would listen that change will be forced upon the Government if they do not act.

Well, they have.

Perhaps, when the Minister of Immigration was publically quoted, in regards to the tens of thousands of international students looking for a resident visa, ‘they won’t get residence’ recently, he wasn’t joking. He knew the Government was about to pull the rug out from under their feet.

I hate to say it but I told you so. It was so obviously going to have to happen or the Skilled Migrant Category would collapse under the weight of these applicants.

My advice to those from the English speaking world all this change really suggests to me is:

  • You’ll need to get a job offer outside of Auckland unless you can pick up bonus points; and
  • Qualifications are back in vogue and will be more important than they have been in recent years;
  • Government will find a way within the next few weeks to provide a pathway to 160 points for those on higher salaries than ‘average’ with jobs in Auckland

For existing clients, we will be back in touch with you within the next few hours to explain how these changes affect you.

Until we can tell you more...

Iain MacLeod

Managing Partner, IMMagine Australia & New Zealand

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10 comments on this post
Oct. 11, 2016, 1:27 p.m. by ZULHEIRY FAHMIE ZULKIFLI

160 points? It surely be tough for those without jobs in hand / applying offshore with just degree. no?

Replies to this comment

Oct. 11, 2016, 7:32 p.m. by Iain Macleod
Hi Virtually impossible actually. We do see some 160 pointers but they are a rare diamond indeed. Iain
Reply to this comment
Oct. 11, 2016, 2:24 p.m. by Chris

Thanks for the quick article and the clarification. interesting...!

Reply to this comment
Oct. 11, 2016, 3:23 p.m. by andrew

Is it possible to find a NZ job from outside New Zealand ?

Replies to this comment

Oct. 11, 2016, 7:33 p.m. by Iain Macleod
Technically yes but practically for most people,no.
Reply to this comment
Oct. 11, 2016, 7:13 p.m. by Anne

I don't see any announcement about a change in the post study open work visa. There is an update on the pathway visa which is different. It would be very unfair for Immigration to slam the door on international students so suddenly. Some may be finishing their degrees and are looking forward to applying for the post study open work visa.

Reply to this comment
Oct. 11, 2016, 7:37 p.m. by Iain Macleod

I am sure you are quite right but make no mistake - these changes are aimed squarely at them. In the end as my recent blogs have suggested if even half of them got skilled job offers then the whole SMC 'numbers' game collapses under its own weight.

This is all about keeping pathways open for those that are older, more experienced and more skilled.

But they are never going to tell those students who have effectively now been fleeced are they?

Watch this space for another announcement that record those with jobs in Auckland with additional bonus points for high salaries - something these students won't achieve.

Make no mistake most international students have just bee been screwed.

Replies to this comment

Oct. 11, 2016, 8:37 p.m. by Anne
What sort of salaries do you think they will aim for?
Oct. 11, 2016, 8:41 p.m. by Iain Macleod
Hard to know for sure but I am thinking $65,000 and up. Bu I really do not know. What that level would do is to eliminate most entry level jobs held by graduating international students and if that was worth, say an additional 30 points then there;ll be no reason to stop looking for work in Auckland. That's where my money is lying - $65,00-$70,000. We shall see.
Reply to this comment
Oct. 11, 2016, 11:18 p.m. by john bosco kaleku

am Ghanaian live in Ghana and apply for position as a gold mining or fisherman,or farmer.
am very happy to hear that information from your company thank you.by john bosco kaleku.
GHANA.TEL;+233261771481

Reply to this comment
Oct. 12, 2016, 12:05 a.m. by Debi

Hubby is a senior site manager in Auckland. Construction. Earning 100 000 pa...on a 5 yr work visa... we would have submitted our eoi in August 2017 once we got the extra points for 1 years employment in nz which would have brought us to just over 100 points + job offer. So now we won't qualify anymore and he must pack it in and return to sa? Before my house sells?

Reply to this comment
Oct. 12, 2016, 12:06 a.m. by Debi

Hubby is a senior site manager in Auckland. Construction. Earning 100 000 pa...on a 5 yr work visa... we would have submitted our eoi in August 2017 once we got the extra points for 1 years employment in nz which would have brought us to just over 100 points + job offer. So now we won't qualify anymore and he must pack it in and return to sa? Before my house sells?

Replies to this comment

Oct. 12, 2016, 2:31 a.m. by Iain Macleod
Be patient Debi, ther is plenty of water to flow under this bridge yet. I am back in NZ next week. Are you in Akld? I'd strongly recommend a consultation so we can work through what might and might not be possible. Call my PA on (09) 3599319 ti tee something up if you wish. Iain
Reply to this comment
Oct. 12, 2016, 10:13 a.m. by Vicky Du Toit

Husband is General Retail Manager at Tony's Tyres in Napier, he started working June 2016. We would have waited 1 year with application for residency, as we would then have qualified for 140 points. We received our Work to residence visa with the knowledge/hope that we were able to remain in NZ and carry on with our lives here. We have sold and given up EVERYTHING in South Africa, uplifted our children and settled in here in Hawkes Bay. From what I understand, we can only now have our work visas and not obtain residency unless we have the newly appointed 160 points. Surely the government should take people in our situation in consideration and only set out the new "rules" for new entries/applicants? Why would it have to affect the ones who's already shown that level of commitment, earning a descent salary, contributing to taxes and nowhere else to go? We are already enjoying most of the privileges this awesome country has to offer, why not leave us and apply the rules to the "new kids on the block" who is only starting the process now... just a thought... I'm sure someone would want to ask them directly...

Replies to this comment

Oct. 16, 2016, 5:07 p.m. by Naresh Palsania
I agree totally with Vicky and Debi (above). I am in the same situation. Uplifted my family from South Africa, settled here with a job, and an excellent school for my 15 year old son. Was waiting for February 2017, before submitting my EOI, and now just had my bubble burst.
Reply to this comment
Oct. 20, 2016, 9:54 p.m. by Arno

Do you guys have any new news as of yet regarding the policy change? Did government give an indication if they are going to adjust the points system at all?

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Shake Up of the Skilled Migrant Category
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