Signals keep growing stronger that an announcement can be expected in the near future to reopen the Skilled Migrant category. Here is what we know so far.
August 27, 2021
Signals keep growing stronger that an announcement can be expected in the near future to reopen the Skilled Migrant category. Here is what we know so far:
The Minister of Immigration has made a decision to restart selections of Expressions of Interest (EOI).
The Minister has made a decision on the selection criteria. This may suggest a change to the current pass mark of 160 and how points are allocated.
Immigration NZ posted an advance copy of their amended SMC point calculator with 20 points allocated to people with jobs that require occupational registration (nurses, teachers, plumbers etc) AND extra points (up from10 to 30) for those holding jobs in areas of absolute skill shortage (ICT, engineering, health professionals etc).
This advance copy has since been taken down.
While the Minister appears to have made decisions around June it does take time for Immigration NZ (INZ) to get prepared for any changes to go live. There are application forms (paper and online) to amend, immigration instructions (the rules) to rewrite and staff training modules.
When INZ has everything ready to launch the Minister then decides when to make a public announcement. Everyone is collectively holding their breath for the Minister to get on with his announcement but that alone will not result in immediate relief for the thousands wanting to become residents. The queues are huge.
There are around 14,000 Skilled Migrant Residence applications (includes the Skilled Migrant (points) and Residence from Work categories) lodged waiting in a queue to be processed with a small number being assessed by Immigration Officers each month. INZ is working on applications lodged in November 2019 (21 months ago).
On top of the applications already lodged, there are over 10,000 EOIs sitting in the Skilled Migrant pool. No doubt an increase in the pass mark coupled with increased points for jobs requiring occupational registration and/or areas of absolute skill shortage will result in a smaller than expected number being selected. Not all 10,000 EOIs will get selected.
INZ has only 70 Immigration Officers to process this massive number of applications and EOIs. Commentators are quick to blame INZ for processing delays but deciding a residence application is complex and time-consuming. There are documents to verify (qualifications, work reference, job offers etc), relationships to assess (children of separated parents, testing partnerships are genuine and so on), character checks, medical issues to address... the list goes on.
Unless Immigration Officers are instructed to take shortcuts (frankly that is not in the national interest) the only solution is more frontline Immigration Officers. INZ will need substantially more staff to clear backlogs and deal with the wave of new applications when selections of EOIs resumes and invitations to apply for residence are sent out.
INZ is stuck with an out of date funding model. 70 Immigration Officers was the number of staff to deliver the skilled migrant portion of the government residence programme. But that programme expired 31/12/2019 (almost two years ago!) and has not been replaced. If the government genuinely wants to reduce queues they would fund INZ to at least quadruple the current number of Immigration Officers. A team of 280 Immigration Officers would make serious inroads to cut queues and avoid the backlog getting any worse. If work ran out (unlikely for some time) staff can easily be deployed into other areas. Recruiting, training, and accommodating a big workforce takes time to plan and implement. Flicking the "go button" will not immediately help those desperate to get through the process and on with life.
The Minister needs to properly fund INZ by allowing them to get on and do their job with sufficient human resources. Ongoing delays, long queues and uncertainly are hurting families, employers, growing our skill shortages and contributing to the brain drain of international talent who have given up waiting.
We do not anticipate any announcement by the Minister during the current lockdown and politics could throw any number of curveballs into the mix. Immigration Officers cannot process paper-based residence applications during the lockdown. Skilled Migrant applications are processed in Auckland where the current lockdown is expected to last longer than most regions around the country.
If becoming a resident is your goal get in touch today with our team for a free assessment of your eligibility. The process is going to get more complex and using a trusted licensed immigration adviser will reduce the risk of failure and stress levels.
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Today the government announced a pathway to residence for migrant workers who are living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave who are eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else they will miss out on this one off opportunity.
July 8, 2022
Skilled Migrants Opportunity
Today the government announced a pathway to residence for people living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else you miss the boat.
July 8, 2022
New Employer Accreditation Process
The government has moved the introduction of the new employer accreditation process across to mid-2022. At the same time, the Minister of Immigration announced new work visa rules for migrant workers who are already in New Zealand and working full time.
July 8, 2022
Skilled Migrant Changes
The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour.
Employers of migrant workers must become accredited from 1 November 2021 before work visa applications can be processed. Most employers are not accredited. Those that are accredited will have to roll into the new system when it goes live in late September.
July 8, 2022
Work Visa Rules
From mid-2020 (delayed)
Government to negotiate and introduce Industry Sector agreements setting minimum conditions for industries that heavily rely on overseas workers. Sectors include; residential care, meat processing, dairy, forestry, road freight transport, tourism, and hospitality. Construction, horticulture, and viticulture may also be included.
Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements.
Dairy Cattle Farmer job offers are now assessed by three new occupation descriptions: Dairy Farm Manager, Assistant Dairy Farm Manager and Dairy Herd Manager. Pay rates and job tasks will determine how long a work visa is valid. Take advice.
The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.
Introduction of "Oversupply" and "Undersupply" occupation lists used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications when a job offer pays less than the median wage.
Employers offering jobs to migrant workers where an occupation is on the "Oversupply" list will not get Skill Match reports issued by Work & Income. Solid evidence of genuine attempts to find a local to fill the job will be critical for approval.
Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application.
Regional Skill Shortage List goes live. 15 regions around New Zealand list occupations reflecting local skill shortages in each region. The labour market test is not mandatory provided the job offer matches the occupation and region plus the visa applicant has qualifications and/or work experience set out on the list.
The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until after the general election held on 17 October 2020.
Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets the criteria:
Has employment paying double the median wage which is currently NZD $51 per hour OR NZD $106,800 per annum; OR Has New Zealand occupational registration and is required to hold valid registration to lawfully carry out their job.
The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged.
From 1 November 2021 anyone who is not a NZ citizen must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) before travelling to New Zealand. Fully vaccinated means your last dose of vaccine was given at least 14 days before travelling and it was an approved vaccine.
July 8, 2022
Applications for employer accreditation closed at the end of June 2021. Applications lodged before the closure date are still being processed. New applications for accreditation open on 9 May 2022. The process will be quite different to what employers have experienced in the past. Businesses will need to meet minimum standards.
July 26, 2022
2021 Resident Visa
Wednesday, 1 December is fast approaching and it is estimated that around 16,000 individuals and families can apply in the first wave for the 2021 Resident Visa opening next month. It is exciting for the thousands of people who have been waiting patiently to become residents that finally the finish line is in sight.
The first wave of applicants can apply from 1 December 2021. Around 16,000 applications are expected in this first wave. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. In total, the government expects approximately 110,000 applications that will include about 165,000 people.
The second group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 March 2022 are those who hold an eligible work visa and either meet "Settled", "Skilled" or "Scarce" as set out above. In total Immigration NZ estimate around 110,000 people will qualify to apply for this visa.
The first group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 December 2021 are those that on 29/09/2021:
Had lodged a residence application under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from Work category; OR Had lodged an SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) in the SMC pool that included at least one dependent child aged 17 or above.
People who were lawfully in NZ (or in Australia when the travel bubble closed between April and July 2021) on 29/09/2021 need to meet the visa eligibility criteria:
Workers in NZ who held an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and on the day they apply for residence; OR Applied for an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and the work visa application is subsequently approved and still hold an eligible work visa on the day they apply for residence.
The government has introduced a limited pathway to residence for people who are already living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave of people eligible to apply. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022.
A small number of critical health workers (taking up jobs for six months or longer) or specialist workers (taking up jobs that are for longer than six months) who were granted border exemptions may also have eligibility for the 2021 Resident Visa. They will need to have arrived in NZ and lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application.
July 4. Applications open for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa.
July 31. Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa close.
August. Skilled Migrant Residence category scheduled to reopen.
August. A new pathway to residence for people earning 200% or more of the median wage.
*Excludes high-risk countries.
July 8, 2022
Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022
February 13. Fully vaccinated Kiwis plus certain other travellers entering NZ from the rest of the world* can skip MIQ.
April 30. The border starts a phased reopen to fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
April 30. The Productivity Commission reports back to the government on immigration settings.
May 9. Applications open for mandatory Employer Accreditation.
*Excludes high-risk countries.
July 8, 2022
Work Visa Categories Closing
The work visa categories set to close are:
Essential Skills Work Visa
Essential Skills Work Visa – approval in principle
Work to Residence (Talent – Accredited Employer)
Work to Residence (Long Term Skills Shortage)
Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa (closed October 2019)
Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visa.
July 8, 2022
The Green List
From September 2022 people holding job offers in a small number of occupations may apply for residence. Some occupations are a direct pathway to residence and others require a period of two years or longer before applying.
There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Establishing if an overseas qualification matches the NZ equivalent qualification before applying is paramount for success.