Potential changes to immigration policies

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Special Counsel

Six weeks after the election, New Zealand’s new Government has finally been formed.  For the first time since MMP was introduced, three parties have formed a coalition – the National, Act and New Zealand First parties.  The agreements signed between the National and Act; and National and New Zealand First have also been released. 

This article sets out the strategic direction of New Zealand’s immigration system, as proposed under the new Coalition Government’s agreements.

What immigration changes are set out in the National and Act agreement?

Under the National and Act agreement, the proposed change to the existing policies includes:

  • Increasing the cap on the number of workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme to increase the flexibility of the quota allocation system.
  • The introduction of a five-year, renewable parent category visa, conditional on covering healthcare costs, with consideration of a public healthcare levy.
  • Removing median wage requirements for Skilled Migrant Category visas.
  • Liberalising the rules to make it easier for family members of visa holders to work in New Zealand, beginning with Skilled Migrant Category visas.

What immigration changes are included in the National and New Zealand First agreement?

Under the National and New Zealand First agreement, the proposed changes to New Zealand’s immigration policies includes:

  • Improving the Accredited Employer Work Visa to focus the immigration system on attracting the workers and skills New Zealand needs.
  • Ensure Immigration New Zealand is engaged in proper risk management and verification to ensure migrants are filling genuine workforce needs.
  • Commit to enforcement and action to ensure those found responsible for the abuse of migrant workers face appropriate consequences.
  • Address and provide solutions for the long-expressed concern of the OECD into the lack of focus in New Zealand’s Immigration Policy.

What does this mean for New Zealand’s existing immigration policies and direction of immigration in general?

The exact changes will only be known when the new policies and the relevant laws or instructions are drafted and released – the devil will be in the detail.  Therefore, whilst the Coalition Government has advised us of its agreed immigration plans, we must wait to see the detail.  We hope that we will see some of these, such as the renewal parent category visa, within the first 100 days of government, which would be before March 2024.  

Our immigration team will continue to monitor any announcements and provide updates as the details of any new immigration policies are introduced.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

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