Published: Tue, Oct 31st, 2017 by Tim McSweeney

Immigration under NZs new Government: What can we expect?

Given the copious amounts of ‘political rhetoric’ - or what the more cynical among us may call ‘populist electioneering’ – that has taken place recently, it is understandable those thinking of making the move to New Zealand (or indeed those part way through the process of doing so) will be somewhat concerned.

However, as is often the case with immigration at election time, the topic becomes a political football, and any changes often don’t reflect the hyperbole.

But, what has become clear in the last week, is that a ‘slashing’ of immigration numbers, as favoured by the New Zealand First Party won’t be taking place.

In her first few days in office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed it is the Labours Party’s policy that will be followed.

So, what does this mean?

Essentially, this isn’t good news for international students who are variously targeted, with the new government set to limit visas and the ability to work for those considered to be on ‘low value courses’; along with removing the option of a post study open work visa for those graduating with ‘lower level qualifications’.

The proposed changes are estimated to reduce net migration by 20,000 - 30,000 annually and will obviously have a significant impact on NZ work and residence aspirations for this group (although interestingly, changes put in place toward the end of 2016 and more recently in August of this year would have seen the numbers decrease significantly in any case).

What this means of course is that the government will likely reach its targeted reduction without having to make cuts to the Skilled Migrant or Investor categories; although Labour have previously mentioned looking at the Investor category with a view to increasing the minimum investment required – so, stay tuned for possible tweaks here.

Overall though, nothing unexpected. But, when faced with the reality of having to implement significant infrastructure development and projects such as ‘Kiwibuild’, how could it be any different? New Zealand remains well and truly open for business and with severe skill shortages in many areas of the market, there is currently no alternative but to fill the gaps with those from offshore.

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