Trends in New Zealand Immigration

We have noticed an increase in heated discussion about immigration changes in New Zealand, and it appears that there are misconceptions in the market based on rumour and conjecture. To help clear the air, we have done a little research, and have put together the below information based on the recently released date from the New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

Numbers of resident approvals by nationalities

India, China, Great Britain, Philippines, South Africa and South Korea remain the top countries with the highest numbers of resident applications overall.

Most countries have numbers of resident approvals reducing, however, the numbers of approved applications from China and India have declined significantly. From 2010 till 2017, each year, these two countries represent approximately 4000 – 5000 resident visa approvals. In the financial year June 2018 – June 2019, around 3,000 applications were approved whereas in the financial year 2019 – 2020, only 10001,500 applications were successful.

South Korea previously represented approximately of 700 – 1000 application approvals each year. However, in the financial year 2018 – 2019, the number of approvals were around 400. In the financial year July 2019 till date, the number of approvals is so far only 140.

Numbers of resident applications by categories

Each year INZ received approximately 5000 skilled applications from the Long Term Skill Shortage and Talent – Accredited Employer categories for processing.

For Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) applications, INZ also accepted for processing around 20,000 applications each year. In the financial year June 2019 till Dec 2019, they have received an addition of around 14,000 applications already.

For Partnership, numbers of applications for each year are around 10,000 – 12,000.

New Zealand Residence Programme

The New Zealand Residence Programme running from 1 July 2018 until 31 December 2019, set a residency target of 50,000 to 60,000 residence approvals, with proportions for the individual streams to be 51% Business/Skilled; 38% for Family; and 11% for International/Humanitarian. Reports show that a total of 52,048 people were approved residence during these 18-months period.

Previously in the past years, the planning Range from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2018 was 85,000 to 95,000 resident visas, with 60% Skilled/ Business migrants, 32-33% Family members of New Zealanders, 7-8% international and humanitarian commitments.

Numbers of pending applications

As confirmed in the media, INZ is currently processing applications that were lodged and accepted for processing in the month of December 2018 and that around 30,000 applications are still in the queue waiting to be processed. It is also mentioned that INZ has received enough applications that meet the priority criteria and that other applications were no longer being allocated.

Due to pressure from the backlog, INZ has recently changed its approach in prioritising applications, removing applications from Resident from Work Categories from the priority list. INZ expects that as the result of the new prioritisation approach, approximately 20% – 25% of SMC and Resident from Work applications received will be prioritised.

Potential Political Changes

It is noted that from 1 January 2020, the Government will replace the Planning Range with a more targeted approach that focuses on the management of specific residence visa types. This includes introducing new objectives to help maximise the NZRP’s contribution to New Zealand’s economic and social well-being which focuses on:

  1. attracting skilled workers and business migrants
  2. reunifying the families of New Zealand residents and citizens
  3. meeting international and humanitarian commitments.
  4. managing overall residence numbers through controlling each of the individual components of the programme.

While the new approach and monitoring systems are being developed, Immigration New Zealand will continue to process existing and new residence visa applications according to current immigration instructions.

Clearly, the Labour Government’s current and future approach is to continually control the residence numbers and to prioritise priority applications in line with the set overall number to make sure the residence categories meeting its overall objectives. I believe we should also expect significant changes in the overall resident categories this year. It has been suggested that the Government will try to increase the eligibility thresholds for SMC or separate SMC to different smaller categories so that they will control the priority application list better. With the election looming this year, we expect that any possible changes will be politically divisive and no doubt a hot topic in the media.

Helpful Links/Resources

https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/research-and-statistics/statistics
https://www.immigration.govt.nz/documents/statistics
https://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/4577-cabinet-paper-new-zealand-residence-programme-pdf

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