The future of immigration – Productivity Commission releases recommendations for long term settings for immigration

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The New Zealand Productivity Commission has completed an inquiry into New Zealand’s immigration settings, which considered the effects of immigration on the labour market, housing and associated infrastructure, and the natural environment.

The review considered many higher-level issues, including:

  • actively engaging with Māori on how to reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi in immigration policy and institutions, an issue on which the existing legislation is silent;
  • requiring a Government Policy Statement, to improve transparency, clarify objectives within the immigration system and the link to other Government objectives, improve accountability for achieving the objectives, and promote a longer-term focus;
  • creating an immigration policy that treats migrants well, by focusing not just on who can come to New Zealand, but also on making sure that migrants settle comfortably;
  • considering “absorptive capacity”, covering physical infrastructure (like transport, communications), land supply and housing infrastructure, core public health and education services, and broader community infrastructure; and
  • creating stronger links between immigration policy and education and training policies, to identify opportunities and needs for skill development in various sectors.

These considerations could all affect immigration policy for future generations.

In the short term, the Productivity Commission’s report also included a range of proposals, including:

  • allowing migrants on the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (which in mid-2022 is replacing six temporary work visas, including the Essential Skills visa and the Work to Residence visa) to move between any accredited employer;
  • providing clarity to prospective migrants on their likelihood of attaining residency in the Skilled Migrant category by revising the point threshold for entering the Expression of Interest pool annually, enabling applicants to continue to accrue points, selecting applicants from the pool with the highest points first, and publishing the points ranges of successful applicants each year;
  • speeding up processing and increasing the certainty of visa status (including rights to residence and the recognition of comparable foreign qualifications) for highly productive and highly paid workers by reducing complexity and administrative discretion;
  • increasing resources for settlement support to improve the retention of migrants and their acceptance in communities, including providing business mentorships, civics courses, information on the labour market, and information on living in New Zealand; and
  • requiring new residents to renew their resident visa every six years, with eligibility requirements including a minimum of two years residence in the last six years and other measures of commitment.

The implementation of these proposals will hopefully remove a lot of the uncertainty and delay for people looking to move to New Zealand, and for businesses investigating hiring them.

If you have any questions about how these proposals could affect you, please contact a member of our immigration team.


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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