Due to closed borders during the pandemic, some visa categories had been suspended by the New Zealand government. This resulted in massive labour shortages.
To address the labour shortage and reconnect New Zealand with the world, the government has decided to now open two visa categories that will enable migrants to become residents.
On 12 October 2022, Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced the reopening of the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and Parents Residence category. Selections of expressions of interest (EOIs) will resume on 9 November 2022.
The long-term direction of the SMC is being reviewed, and there may be changes in the future. The changes will incorporate the Green List, which provides various pathways to the residence in New Zealand.
The aim of resuming the SMC visa is to attract more migrant workers. Selections of the EOIs for the SMC Resident Visa will recommence on 9 November 2022. Initially, the EOI selection will be for 160 points & above. From 18 January 2023, EOIs will need at least 180 points to be selected.
The SMC visa provides a pathway to the residence and thus helps retain much-needed skills in New Zealand permanently.
Previously, due to a planning range, the number of applications was restricted. For example: In 2019, only 4% of SMC applications were processed. One of the proposed changes is to remove the planning range to enable the processing of all applications that meet the criteria.
The plan is to have a simplified points system with a fair & transparent eligibility threshold.
The proposed changes will enable highly skilled migrants a faster pathway to residence. It will benefit university lecturers & scientists who hold a PhD. Other professionals like teachers and registered tradespeople will have a clear route if they work for a certain period in New Zealand.
The two main advantages of the new system are that processing time will improve and there will be no cap limit on the number of people who can gain residence each year, that is if they meet the skills threshold.
In 2020, a promise was made by the government to reduce the obstructions to accessing the Parent Category Visa, increase the number of visas granted each year under this category and reduce the income thresholds.
The Parent Resident Visa reopens on 12 October 2022 with reduced requirements for sponsors. It will now have a lower income threshold for sponsors of 1.5 times the median wage supporting one parent and 2 times the median wage for joint sponsors. Previously, the threshold was 2 times the median wage for a single sponsor and 3 times the median wage for joint sponsors.
Also, a new ballot system has been introduced. New EOIs, instead of being added to the existing queue, will go into a ballot. This will help reduce lengthy queues, and applicants will be eligible for selection within two years of the EOI submission.
Immigration New Zealand will resume selection from existing EOIs from 14 November 2022.
The number of Parent Resident Visas granted yearly is set to increase from 1000 to 2500. Furthermore, an additional 500 visas will be granted from the ballot, for which the EOI selection will start in August 2023.
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Vandana Rai is a Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser and has built a reputation around her rare set of skills, which could be considered ideal for her legal profession.