NZ immigration minister: NZ skilled migration program highly successful

- Posted in New Zealand by Visa Bureauon 01 August 2008

Recent figures from a report on 'The Fiscal Impacts of Immigration' show immigration contributed net $3.3 million to the economy in the 2005-06 financial year, and 60 per cent of the growth of the economy over the past five years is a result of the skilled migration program.

The latest 'Migration Trends' report also show temporary migration has increased by 18 per cent over the past decade, to 115,500 New Zealand work permits issued in the year 2006/07.  Since 2003, 105,000 people have been approved for permanent residency, and 89 per cent of these were already on temporary permits. 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international organisation that monitors, compares and provides data on the performance of countries around the world, found that New Zealand matched immigrants with jobs better than any other country involved in the survey.  The report, 'A Profile of Immigrant Populations in the 21st Century: Data from OECD Countries, 2008', stated New Zealand had the lowest proportion of overqualified immigrants in the wrong jobs than any country involved in the survey. 

The Minister said this was a direct result of the new direction of Immigration New Zealand’s policy, which unlike Australia, Canada and the UK, is designed to remain more reflexive, open and responsive to the labour market and reflect the needs of local employers.  

The new policy involves the Government actively seeking foreigners with specified skills to move to New Zealand, and providing multifarious systems of support and care for all immigrants.  "It’s the kiwi way of doing things, in terms of going the extra mile and giving personal service," he said.

The new Licensing Act is another step to boost Immigration New Zealand’s international integrity; all migration advisors in New Zealand will be required by law to hold a migration advice licence by May 2009, and all off-shore advisors will be given a year’s leeway. 

The new Essential Skills policy is another amendment to the immigration policy that is designed to boost the number of highly skilled migrants in the country, and protect the job opportunities of lower skilled workers.  The policy changes mean highly skilled migrants on $55,000 per year can apply for a five year temporary work permit and subsequent three year extensions thereafter. 

The Minister said it is also a "kiwi-first" policy, meaning that labour market checks will be conducted frequently to ensure the New Zealand employment market will be exhausted before accepting overseas workers. 

International students can now also apply for a one year open permit after they graduate or a two-year open permit if they are employed in their skill area.  The work to residence program has also been extended from six months to nine months.  These changes to policy are all intended to keep foreign skilled workers in New Zealand for longer periods of time.

The Minister also praised the Association for Migration and Investment for its service to the migrant community, saying it "will help retain New Zealand's reputation as a preferred destination to live and work in.  We must now compete for skilled migrants in a global and increasingly mobile labour market. Competition with New Zealand for skilled workers is broadening beyond our traditional competitors such as Canada and Australia, to other countries such as those in the European Union."

"That said, there is still room for improvement within our immigration processes, and the government is working hard to deliver a system that will better serve New Zealanders and migrants, and into the future. We need to anticipate the opportunities and challenges ahead if we are to stay on top," he added. 

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.