19 March 2009

INZ to lower New Zealand immigration requirements

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Immigration New Zealand will have its requirements relaxed in an attempt to boost the number of people emigrating to New Zealand and increase participation in the New Zealand active investor visa scheme.

According to Otago Daily Times, English language requirements will be the first to undergo change, along with reducing the minimum investment levels, which will allow more business and investor immigrants move to New Zealand under the New Zealand active investor visa scheme.

Immigration Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman announced on Monday that New Zealand would not be following Australia's recent move to reduce the skilled migration program in response to the global economic conditions.  In fact, they would be doing the opposite; relaxing immigration laws so more people consider emigrating to New Zealand instead of its primary competitor Australia. 

"Australia and New Zealand tend to be looked at together, and migrants looking for greater certainty, policy security and a country that's welcoming to migrants will probably now look more to New Zealand rather than Australia," Association of Migration and Investment chairman Richard Howard said.

Currently, only those who invest $20 million or more into New Zealand can apply for a New Zealand active investor visa without having restrictions on their age or English language ability.  Otherwise, an investor bringing in $2.5 million needs to be under 54, have International English Language Testing System (IELTS) level 5 and someone bringing in $10 million needs at least IELTS level 4 and be under 64.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed his government would continue to fill the serious skills shortages around the country so that New Zealand's economy can continue to grow.

"New Zealand needs skilled migrants to grow," he said at his weekly news conference.

"We have a skills deficit and while that may abate slightly because of the downturn in the economy and growing unemployment, we still need to make sure we have got enough skills to grow our economy and develop further."

The annual target for the New Zealand migration scheme is sitting at 45,000, with 27,000 places reserved for New Zealand skilled migration and the New Zealand business visa.

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