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The Current State of Immigration Policy

Updated: Mar 29

New Zealand, with its diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and high quality of life, has become an increasingly popular destination for immigrants seeking new opportunities and a fresh start. From the rugged beauty of the South Island to the charm of cities like Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand offers a diverse range of experiences for those looking to make it their new home. In this blog post, I will delve into the immigration process to New Zealand, explore the reasons why people choose to move here.

Why Immigrate to New Zealand? There are numerous reasons why people choose to immigrate. Safety, quality of life, and a better work/life balance are some of the reasons mentioned migration groups on Facebook. One of the most compelling factors is the country's exceptional quality of life. With its clean environment, excellent healthcare system, and high standard of education, New Zealand consistently ranks among the top countries in global quality of life indexes. There are however, downsides. High inflation, long elective surgery wait times, and a never-ending backlog of visa applications at Immigration New Zealand

Bouncing back from the border closures during the height of the Covid pandemic, the Government at the time decided to re-focus on higher-skilled migrants, while making it more difficult for lower-skilled, low-income migrants to remain here permanently. Part of this refocus was replacing older skills lists with the new Green List, which can be found here.

For higher-skilled migrants, the process towards residency is slightly less complicated now. From IT and engineering to healthcare and agriculture, New Zealand's economy offers a wide range of employment prospects for skilled workers. Additionally, the government actively encourages immigration to address skill shortages (see Green List above) in key industries, making it easier for qualified individuals to secure work visas and residency.

The Immigration Process: The immigration process to New Zealand is relatively thorough. Prospective immigrants typically apply for one of several visa categories, depending on their circumstances and intended length of stay. These categories include skilled migrant visas, family visas, entrepreneur visas, and more.

The Green List has a two-tiered system. Tier one roles, like doctors, nurses and IT engineers, are able to apply for residency as soon as they meet those tier one requirements, i.e. a valid job offer, and the skills/qualifications and/or income. Tier two roles allow people to apply for residency after 2 years of working in that field. The difference between the two tiers appears to based on worker shortages and value to the New Zealand economy.

People who don't have a pathway via the Green List can opt for the revamped Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). This is points-based system, rather than a focus on a particular skill shortage, people can apply if they have 6 points or more. For example, some applicants can be awarded 3 points for a recognised degree, someone with a PhD may, for example, be awarded 6 points. Both examples would still require a valid job offer however. The reason for having a job offer under SMC or the Green List is that New Zealand wants people who have skills to offer, who will money for the economy - i.e. someone who is an economic boost Having residency entitles people to privileges, like unemployment benefits, so someone coming over without work would be an economic-negative.

For those seeking to reunite with family members in New Zealand, family-based visas offer a route for spouses, partners, children, and other eligible relatives to join their loved ones in the country. Similarly, entrepreneur visas are available for individuals with innovative business ideas or existing entrepreneurial ventures that have the potential to benefit New Zealand's economy. It is worth noting however that approximately 94% of entrepreneur residency applications are declined, due to unworkable and strict requirements.

This information does not constitute immigration advice. If you require individual help, book in a free 15 minute consultation here.

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