08 August 2007

New Zealand revamps immigration law

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The results of a major review of New Zealand's immigration law were released today, pointing to a simplified and more flexible visa system but also tighter security controls for prospective skilled migrants.

The biggest rewrite of immigration law for two decades will ensure New Zealand is well-placed to meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities of a fast-changing world, says immigration minister David Cunliffe.

Mr Cunliffe announced that the cabinet has agreed to a package of proposals for changes to the Immigration Act. The new draft legislation was tabled in parliament today.

He said the new laws will make New Zealand immigration easier for those travelling through the skilled migration scheme, providing New Zealand with the skilled migrants the country is in need of while enhancing border security.

The changes include a simplified visa system that provides for greater clarity and flexibility in managing non-citizens' travel to and stay in New Zealand.

Collection and use of specified biometric information for identity verification purposes is also a key feature, following the heightened security of the past few years.

"Migrants from all over the world play a vital role in the economic transformation and wonderful diversity of this country. That role is set to increase as our need for skilled, talented people continues,' Mr Cunliffe told news agency Scoop.

The Labour government has placed priority on developing a high-income knowledge-based economy that is internationally integrated. Government policy recognises that providing skilled migrants with the New Zealand visas they need is the key to unlocking a new source of talent, skills and investment for the country.

Anyone applying for a New Zealand visa should begin by taking Visa Bureau's online assessment to see if they meet the basic legislative requirements.

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