NZ Immigration Programme to focus on talent

  • Lianne Dalziel

The government today announced changes to the way it manages residence approvals, with the unveiling of its New Zealand Immigration Programme, which focuses on attracting talent.

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said the Programme is the government's response to calls for New Zealand to attract more skilled and business migrants. The New Zealand Immigration Programme streamlines the existing categories under which people can be granted New Zealand residence, and adjusts the criteria within the categories to better reflect the way migrants are responding to residence policy.

"Underpinning the Programme I am announcing today, is our desire to ensure that talent tops the list of residence approvals. To achieve this we are developing a Talent Visa policy.

"Until now, talent has taken the back seat to the other, demand driven, categories. As a result skilled and business migrants became a de facto residual category, making up numbers once the other categories were filled. We were only able to keep the number of skilled and business migrants up by holding the passmark in the General Skills Category," Lianne Dalziel said.

The new system sets the total number of residence approvals at 45,000 each year for the next three years. This includes a tolerance of 10% built into the system, meaning that approvals in any year could be around 50,000.

It also introduces three residence approval streams that operate independently of each other. Each stream has separate sub-approval levels. The three streams are:
· Skilled/Business60 % of approvals
· Family Sponsored32 % of approvals
· International/Humanitarian 8 % of approvals

This means there will be at least 27,000 skilled and business migrants each year.

"The Skilled/Business Stream will also include the Talent Visa when it is introduced, which will be one way of allowing highly employable people to move from temporary to residence status. The Talent Visa policy is still being developed within a wider review of ways to attract talented people to work and live in New Zealand. This reflects the changing patterns of employment around the world and acknowledges that a significant number of people apply for residence while they are working in New Zealand," Lianne Dalziel said.

The frameworks of the Family Sponsored and International/Humanitarian Streams have also been adjusted to recognise the diversity of migrant family relationships and the circumstances of people who are applying for residence.

"We're taking a realistic view about which family members residents can apply to bring to New Zealand. Previously, some categories were not flexible enough to meet the changing needs of migrant communities so others were being used for family reunification when this was not their purpose. So we've broadened the definition of a family member for residence purposes while tightening up on ensuring those being sponsored into New Zealand can support themselves when they get here. We've also ensured that family-reunification polices are in the Family Sponsored Stream, not mixed up in other categories.

"The New Zealand Immigration Programme offers a practical approach to managing residence approvals. It demonstrates that we expect our policy to be realistic, flexible and fair. And it sends a clear message that talented residents are a priority for New Zealand and their place in the approval process is fixed for the next three years", Lianne Dalziel said.

Note: Information packs about the New Zealand Immigration Programme are available on request.