EOI selection for Skilled Migrant Category on hold

As of Monday 19 October, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced that the Expression of Interest (EOI) selection process for the Skilled Migrant Category (and the Parent Category which is not yet open) has been put on pause for a further 6 months.

The decision is set to be reviewed in 2021.

What does this mean for skilled migrants?

This further delay will be unwelcome news for anyone looking to migrate to New Zealand under the Skilled Migrant Category, putting a pause on their plans – but for some applicants, its impact will go beyond mere inconvenience into real disruption and disappointment. Because for these people, this 6-months delay will mean the difference between being eligible and being ineligible for their visas.

Who will be the worst affected?

  • Onshore Applicants: In the next 6 months, those who increase in age past the accepted age bracket will become ineligible; or if their points drop, they may not be able to recover those through just doing more New Zealand work experience.
  • Off-shore Applicants: In the next 6 months, those who are currently offshore without a job offer, on 160 points, and their age increases – causing them to lose points – they too will become ineligible.

An internal failure that’s hurting skilled migrants’ prospects

INZ announced on their website that this 6-month deferral of the Expression of Interests (EOI) is “a measure assists INZ to focus on processing applications from people in New Zealand, or eligible to travel here while border restrictions are in place.”

So to translate, the frustrating reason for this further 6-month hold is by their own admission, to support INZ’s well-known workflow issues – which have arisen purely from a notoriously poorly-managed restructure at the end of 2018.

The problem here is that you’re asking migrants to bear the brunt and pay the price for INZ’s mismanagement of their own ‘necessary’ re-structure – since that is what caused these workflows to spill over.

The government lacks immigration goals

The second unstated reason behind this delay – which hasn’t been specified, but which those in the business of immigration are well aware of, is that there are currently no goals in place for immigration in 2020.

Every single year the New Zealand government is supposed to declare a Residence Program, which details the level of immigration we as a country want to have – but in March 2020 that didn’t happen in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and nationwide lockdown.

The implication seems to be that, right now, Immigration New Zealand is fumbling in the dark, with no idea of how many cases they should be approving.

One could argue that this decision to bring further delays to the immigration process implies they don’t yet have a plan for immigration, let alone a policy. But why should onshore applicants, the government’s fee-paying clients, suffer for mismanagement?

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