Points premium for migrants with relevant job offer

  • Lianne Dalziel

Migrants seeking New Zealand residence will receive a points premium for job offers that are relevant to their qualifications or work experience, under immigration policy changes announced today.

From 4 February 2002, applicants for residence under the general skills category will be awarded five points if their qualifications or work history are relevant to the job offer. Currently, any job offer, regardless of relevance to an applicant's qualifications or work experience, can earn five points. Non-relevant job offers will attract two settlement points in the future.

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said that to gain the premium points, applicants would have to demonstrate a clear link between job offers and skills.

"Experience shows that migrants are likely to settle quickly, remain permanently and make a greater contribution to New Zealand's economic and social future if they are able to apply their particular skills in employment. We want to ensure that migrants are given a premium for securing job offers that are appropriately matched to their skills and experience.

"Prior to 1998, job offers were required to be relevant to qualifications, but this requirement was too narrow and did not assist migrants who had considerable work experience in areas outside their qualifications. The National government removed the requirement for a qualification-linked job offer, but their motive was to increase numbers qualifying for residence which resulted in highly skilled migrants coming to New Zealand with job offers completely unrelated to their particular skills or New Zealand's economic development.

"This contributed to the 'scientists driving taxis' scenario. The Labour-Alliance government believes good settlement outcomes should not be jeopardised by desires to increase or decrease numbers.

"Current demand for residence from skilled migrants is high. We are taking advantage of this demand by adjusting policy criteria within the existing general skills category framework to maximise opportunities and improve settlement outcomes for new migrants.

"This announcement follows recent government initiatives including the Talent Visa and Regional Immigration Initiative, aimed at attracting highly skilled migrants, and achieving good settlement outcomes with social and economic benefits for New Zealand," Lianne Dalziel said.

View "Policy Adjustment to General Skills Category" brochure in .pdf format (117Kb)

29 January 2002
Minister of Immigration
Q & A

Q. What's happening?

The General Skills Category (GSC) criteria have been adjusted to provide a points premium for migrants with offers of employment that are directly relevant to their qualifications or work experience. Priority will be given to skilled migrants who are able to directly match their capabilities with skilled labour market opportunities in New Zealand.

Q.When will the policy adjustment take effect?

The adjustment takes effect from 4 February 2002.

Q. What's changed?

Points Premium for a Job Offer

From 4 February 2002, when the policy adjustment takes effect, applicants will receive five points for an offer of employment relevant to their qualifications or work experience and two points for an offer of employment not relevant to their qualifications or work experience. Currently, any job offer, whether or not it is relevant to qualifications or work experience, is awarded five points.

Allocation of Points for Work Experience

Also from 4 February 2002, only applicants with a relevant job offer (one that is worth five points) will be able to claim points for work experience that is not relevant to their qualifications.

This means applicants with a non-relevant job offer (one that is worth two points) can only claim points for work experience that is relevant to their qualifications.

Currently applicants with any offer of employment can be awarded points for all work experience whether or not it is relevant to qualifications.

Q. Why is the policy adjustment being made?

Experience shows that migrants are more likely to make a greater contribution to New Zealand's economic and social future, settle quickly and remain permanently if they are able to directly use their particular skills in their working lives. We want to encourage those people to migrate here. A points premium for these factors is a good way of achieving this.

Q. Shouldn't we welcome all highly skilled migrants into New Zealand no matter what kind of job offer they have?

The adjustment does recognise and does acknowledge that a job offer of some kind gives migrants a settlement advantage, and they will gain two points for settlement factors, it just doesn't necessarily qualify them for the premium number of points they can score. The aim of the adjustment is to focus migrant selection on those with high skill levels, and high employability and settlement potential.

Q. What effect will the new policy have on the number of migrants approved under the Skilled/Business stream?

It is not possible to quantify numbers at this point. What we do know is that there is currently increased demand for residence in the Skilled/Business stream and the adjustment is being introduced to take advantage of this demand to attract those who are best placed to contribute to New Zealand's social and economic development.

Q. Are you using the new policy to reduce the number of approvals in the General Skills Category?

The policy adjustment is not about numbers of applicants, it's about giving a points premium to those applicants who have the employability factors we value most - high skills and experience linked to a job offer. It's about increasing the percentage of approvals that meet this criteria not about managing up or down total numbers. The passmark is the primary mechanism we use to manage the overall numbers of migrants.

Q. What sort of signal are you sending with this change in policy?

This adjustment to policy makes it clear to people seeking residence in New Zealand that New Zealand welcomes highly qualified, highly skilled migrants and that we place a premium on ensuring that they settle well in New Zealand. New Zealanders do not like to see highly qualified people placed in inappropriate jobs. It makes better social and economic sense for skilled and qualified migrants to have jobs where they can apply that training, and experience.

Q. What happens to unprocessed applications sent in before the policy change takes place?

Applications that are received before 4 February will be processed under the old policy. The new policy will apply to all applications received from 4 February 2002.

Q. Why have you given applicants less than a week's notice of the change?

People who have their applications underway still have time to lodge these with NZIS. We need to have a date from which time the changes will take place and we want to encourage people to apply under the new policy, not the old one.

Q. Why doesn't the Government just increase the General Skills Category passmark instead of adjusting the policy to benefit skilled migrants. Surely the higher the points the higher the skills?

Increasing the passmark primarily helps to manage the number of people who gain residence. Adjusting the passmark will not necessarily achieve the objective of linking desirable employability factors to gaining residence. This policy adjustment achieves our objective by directly linking a job offer relevant to qualifications or work experience to a points premium. This premium will continue to apply whether the passmark moves up or down in the future.

The National Government removed the requirement for a job offer to be relevant to qualifications in 1998. The result has been the all too well-known phenomenon of the taxi driver with a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering. This Government does not believe that settlement outcomes should be jeopardised by the desires to increase numbers alone.

Good migration policy is about improving settlement outcomes for migrants so that they can participate fully in New Zealand life.

Q. Who makes the assessment about whether a job offer is "relevant" or "not relevant" to qualifications or work experience?

The assessment of whether a job offer is "relevant" and attracts five points, or "non relevant" and attracts two points, will be made by the NZIS. The NZIS has criteria for making those assessments. Those criteria are:
An offer of employment is assessed as relevant to a qualification if:

  • The major subject area of the qualification for which the points have been awarded is directly applicable to the employment offer; or
  • The offer of employment is in an occupation for which a core requirement is a qualification at the academic trade or technical level of the qualification for which points have been awarded.

An offer of employment is assessed as relevant to work experience if:

  • The work experience for which points have been or may be awarded is directly applicable to the employment offered; and
  • The offer of employment could not reasonably have been made if the applicant did not have that work experience.

Q. Will the policy change increase complexity or cost for applications?

Applicants already self-assess their potential points under the GSC. This new policy makes it clear to those filling out the self assessment form whether or not they qualify for points for relevant or non-relevant job offers or points for work experience. It will be similar to the process applicants use now.

There will be no increase in application fees.