Major immigration changes will allow an uncapped number of skilled migrants to come to New Zealand but questions have been raised about the current visa processing backlog, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin
No cap on number of skilled migrants
New policy settings for residency for skilled migrants will kick in next year following a period of consultation. The new proposal would remove a cap on skilled migrant visa numbers, although immigration minister Michael Wood thinks the numbers might top out around 20,000. RNZ outlines how the scheme would work with a handy chart. Applications under the existing points-based system will also reopen next month. Making good on a 2020 election campaign promise, the residency for parents scheme will also re-open. The income thresholds have been criticised by the Green party for prioritising family reunification for high income earners.
Migration figures show ‘brain drain’ stabilising
As Liam Dann writes (paywalled), New Zealand continues to struggle to attract workers with departures to Australia still going strong, but the “brain drain” is showing signs of stabilising. We had a small net migration gain of 47 in August but an overall loss of 11,000 people for the year ending August. Opposition spokesperson for immigration, Erica Stanford wanted to know how immigration officials were going to cope with visa processing given the current backlog. Malcolm Pacific Immigration chief executive David Cooper said in the parent’s category, some families are facing another four years before their visas are approved.
A master’s degree now a one-year pathway to residency
Jen Mueller, who chairs the Licenced Immigration Adviser Association, thinks the focus on tertiary qualifications as part of the criteria for the new scheme will be a boost for universities. A master’s degree would give applicants five points under the new system. A job offer after completion plus a year of working and you’d have the six points required for residency. Mueller says it won’t help ease shortages of hospitality workers or tradespeople. Also unlikely to ease the bus driver shortage, an issue which could be on the list of topics to discuss when Wood, in his capacity as transport minister, meets Auckland mayor Wayne Brown.
Nursing shortage still in critical condition
I suspect a few people who knew this immigration announcement was coming wondered if it was going to be about adding nurses to the Green List. It was not. Only 22 nurses have arrived in the country since August, while the Nursing Council estimates about 4000 are needed. Speaking to Checkpoint on Tuesday, health minister Andrew Little said immigration was only part of the issue, a point perhaps illustrated by a Checkpoint story last night about nurses getting paid more as stop/go workers.