January 31, 2023

Immigration in 2023

Immigration priorities for this year will be reviewing the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and reviewing the partnership policy.
Immigration in 2023

The Minister of Immigration signalled in late 2022 his immigration priorities for this year would be:


·       Completing the review of the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). The SMC is a points system used to determine eligibility for residence of skilled workers.

·       Review the partnership policy which is the visa pathways of overseas partners in relationships with NZ citizens or residents.  


The SMC proposals on the table have troubling news for employers. If implemented migrants with PhDs will be favoured over nurses, doctors, electricians and teachers. This is a return to the policies of the 90s! The plan to restrict work visas to a maximum of three years for anyone who does not qualify for residence will put some employers on an continual cycle of recruitment. There is a failure to recognise most skilled workers have options and will move to countries that provide pathways to residence because they want security for their family. Most don’t sell up, take children out of school, resign jobs and move across the world without certainty that residence can be achieved.


The government still needs to decide how they will treat the partners of migrant workers holding work visas. The change signalled last year to restrict partners gaining work rights unless they are able to qualify for an Accredited Employer Work Visa led to an outcry from business. The decision to go live in December 2022 was kicked down the road until April 2023. No sign yet of any wide consultation with industry at the time of going to press.


Election 2023 has been set for October. Cabinet reshuffles (Michael Wood has kept the immigration portfolio), political parties announcing their immigration polices and the state of economy point to immigration once again appearing on the debating list for this election. Let’s hope migrants and employers are not caught in any crossfire.

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