1. New Zealand Immigration: No Significant Cut in Migrant Numbers

It’s been quiet in the New Zealand immigration space over the last few months. A new Labour government was elected at the end of last year. One of their major topics was immigration. With a specific focus on reducing migrant numbers. They even announced big cuts to immigration numbers where coming. But I guess they’ve realised New Zealand needs migrants to keep the economy going. With the unemployment rate steadily going down the demand for migrants will only grow.

2. New Zealand Immigration: An Increase in Application Decline Rates

The New Zealand immigration community has collectively noticed an increase in decline rates for certain visa types, such as postgraduate work visas. Also, the processing times seem to have increased somewhat.  Immigration New Zealand launched a new tool in June 2018 that shows the processing times more accurately (based on data from the last 3-months).

The Case Officers also seem to apply policy stricter and ask for a lot of additional supporting documents from both employer and migrant, especially if the applicant is from certain countries, such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal.

3. New Zealand Immigration: New Policy Announced Later This Year

One existing policy is currently under review and one new policy announcement expected later this year:

  • Postgraduate work visas
  • Regional workers (construction sector)

Postgraduate work visa

Currently, Immigration New Zealand is seeking feedback on proposed changes to the postgraduate visas. The most noticeable proposed change is that graduates of level 7 Bachelor Degrees will be eligible for a 3-year open work visa. The same applies to graduates of postgraduate courses. All other graduates (including non-degree level 7) may be eligible for a 1-year open work visa if they studied in New Zealand for at least 2 years.

It will be interesting to see what will apply to current students.

Under the proposed changes, partners of students may only apply for a work visa if their partner is studying towards a level 7 Bachelor Degree in an area specified on the Long Term Skill Shortage List (existing policy) or if they are studying towards a level 8 or 9 qualification in an area specified on the Long Term Skill Shortage List (proposed change).

Regional immigration policy

In February 2018 the Immigration Minister Lees-Galloway mentioned that work was underway to develop a regional immigration policy. In recent days, articles popped up in the news that a new policy is imminent, although this not (yet) confirmed by Immigration New Zealand or the Minister of Immigration. The articles in the news mainly revolve around regional policy for construction workers. There is no mention of other sectors. Although, there are many more that struggle to find sufficient workers to fill all vacancies. More details will follow when there is an official announcement.

Other policies

There has been no update on the Parent Category. This visa type closed for new expressions of interest in May 2016.  It was due to open in May 2018 (as the applications on hand were sufficient to cover the quota for 2 years). There is no indication of when this visa category opens again.  It is unclear if the policy remains the same or may change significantly.

The Entrepreneur Work Visa is a headache for many applicants. The decline rates are really bad. Of the applications that were decided in February 2018, only 1% was approved. Unless the policy is changed, I do not recommend applying for a visa under this category.