Upcoming 2021 Immigration Changes

Written by David Fisher, Principal Adviser/Director

NZ Border Closure

We can’t really make predictions on when our borders will open up. We can only speculate as the facts we use to calculate the possibility of reopening are changing very rapidly, given rolling country lockdowns and new strains of Covid-19 emerging. Consequently, the NZ Government is not able to offer certainty in any meaningful way about reopening our border. However, I believe at some stage this year you will see limited joint bubbles between NZ and Australia (by state), and the NZ Government allowing certain types of students to come in, in limited categories. However, these changes are more likely to happen in the next twelve months. My personal view is that the border won’t open in 2021 in any meaningful way. So, with this in mind you’ll need to be conservative if you are offshore and thinking of immigrating to NZ, meaning it’s best to be making a 3-5 year plan.

Work Visas

Generally speaking, we are looking at the removal of all current work visa types and a new single type being brought in, based on region and salary. This is really about NZ trying to bring in requirements based on NZ labour market shortages and to support the NZ economy. I would forecast that around June/July this year there will be new work visa and employer accreditation requirements. Immigration NZ will be offering Employer Accreditation to employers, so if you are an employer and are thinking about this, it may be time to examine it to make sure you are compliant.

Residence Programme (Skilled Migrants)

The Skilled Migrant Residence Programme has been effectively closed for almost a year now and there is certainly no sign of it opening anytime soon. However, the Expressions of Interest (EOI) pool is still open. You can place an EOI in, but there is no selection from the pool happening. There is plenty of speculation around what will happen once it reopens. How will the requirements change around salary and skills? What will the Government do – will they allow selections from the pool based on the current selection requirements? My view is and if it were me making the decision, I would allow selections from the pool based on EOIs that have already gone in, and under the current rules. However, this would be a large number. I would suggest that they close the pool to stop the EOI’s flooding in, so they can at least have a way to manage the large volume of applications. So, on one hand you may not be eligible if the policy changes, however, if you don’t submit an EOI and the pool closes you may have missed out. We just don’t know what will happen in the end. It is a personal decision to make, and to determine in your own way what is the right thing to do for your situation.

Looking ahead, 2021 is most likely going to be marred by the pandemic for the entire year. So, let’s all try to stay safe and consolidate our plans for the future on this basis. If you are not quite sure what to do, it would be an idea to get in touch with a licensed adviser or lawyer and to look at a longer term plan with your migration goals.

Happy New Year to you, and I sincerely hope you achieve all your goals.

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