Key developments in immigration policy

Immigration | Print Article

November 2022

Many of you will probably be overwhelmed with the recent string of developments in immigration policy. In this article, we have summarised the most important developments.

Skilled Migrant Category reopening

Immigration Minister Michael Wood has recently announced that the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa – halted during Covid-19 border closures – will reopen next month, along with the residency pathway for parents of migrants.

From 9 November 2022 all expressions of interest (EOIs) that could claim 160 or more points will be selected for processing. Any new EOI submitted after 9 November must claim 180 points. In the meantime, Cabinet is expected to review proposed changes to the category in early 2023. These changes follow a series of changes designed to ‘rebalance’ the immigration system, including the introduction of a straight-to-residency ‘Green List’ for workers in medicine, engineering, and other sectors.

What does this mean for you?

Those who have submitted their SMC EOIs can proceed or withdraw and request a refund. If you wish to proceed it is critical that you update all details, including salary (taking into account the current median wage of $27.76), and claim any eligible points before 9 November. For many people, their English Language Tests may have expired and there is now a limited window of time to obtain a new certificate.

If you have not submitted your EOI to date

We suggest that eligible applicants submit their SMC EOIs before 9 November 2022 if they are unlikely to be able to claim 180 points or meet the requirements for residence under the Green List or Highly Paid residence categories.

We highly recommend that professional advice is sought prior to submitting an EOI.

Parent Resident Visa reopening with changes to sponsor requirements

The Parent Category allows any New Zealand resident and citizen who has lived here for at least 3 years to sponsor their parent’s application for residence if they meet the sponsorship criteria.

The changes to the Parent Category include lowering the income threshold for sponsors and expanding the joint sponsorship arrangements to allow two adult children (siblings in most cases) to combine their income to meet the relevant threshold, rather than only their partner.

Existing EOIs

  • INZ will start selecting existing EOIs again on 14 November 2022. Selections will be every three months after that. EOIs will be selected in date order, with the oldest EOIs selected first.
  • Annual cap for existing EOIs is 2,000 per year.

New EOIs

  • In May 2023 INZ plan to release an online process for submitting Parent Category EOIs.
  • From 12 October 2022, new EOIs will be entered into a ballot. The first ballot will be held in August 2023.
  • In total 500 EOIs each year will be randomly selected from the ballot. EOIs stay in the ballot for 2 years only.

We highly recommend that professional advice is sought prior to submitting your EOI.

Remuneration – median wage increase

Another important development is the upcoming increase to the median wage. The median wage, currently $27.76 per hour, is set to increase to $29.66 on 27 February 2023. This affects the pay requirements for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and Skilled Migrant Category, as well as other visas. Up to this point, AEWV applications can continue to be submitted under the current hourly rate of $27.76. We anticipate that there will be an influx of applications being lodged as a result of this increase.

Employers in hospitality and other sectors, as well as in small businesses, may struggle to retain skilled migrant workers, as they may not be able to afford to pay their staff $29.66 per hour.

From 18 October 2022, chefs will no longer need a New Zealand Certificate of Cookery (Level 4) or equivalent to be granted an AEWV.

Get professional advice

For many migrants this may be their only chance to get across the line and this is why it is very important that professional advice is obtained to get your EOI right from the outset.

Talk to us

To find out how these evolving changes may affect you or your family now, and in the future, talk to your lawyer.