New visa announcements offer little in substance

The Government announced two major changes to the immigration system on the 13th of October, the parent visa category was reopened, and the skilled migrant visa category which is known as the points system. Both have been on hold because of Covid. Both visas are of huge importance to New Zealand. Immigration lawyer Aaron Martin explains the details of the new polices and what the changes will mean for migrants.

Whether this quick rollout of the skilled migrant and parent visas is being used to cover up dodgy data dealings and low performance for Immigration processing or not, the convoluted start to the reopening of these critical visa categories has left a bad taste in the collective mouth of the New Zealand migrant community.

What is the government logic behind the SMC points roll out?

By starting with a point goal of 160 under the current system to presumably try and clear the backlog of applications of those who couldn’t get through on Resident Visa 2021, then moving the goalposts to 180 required points in November, INZ is piling frustration on top of frustration.

This is a strange rationale when many industries are crying out for skilled workers, and it appears that the government is clearly seeking to limit the inflow of potential residents. 

Immigration NZ has traditionally set targets to meet demand in the past, and the residency visa limits have always been decided on intelligent data analysis.

So going forward, if the increasing point requirement is actually designed to stop applications from passing, it begs the question is the Labour government trying to suppress migration to New Zealand? And why?

It feels like smoke and mirrors when the current system is also set to be replaced with a new skilled migrant category (SMC) visa system next year, which is supposedly still in the planning stages. Yet, the recent media rollout included a diagram that relays precisely what the new 6-point system would entail in terms of income levels, professional registration, and the qualifications that will make up the portion of the points required. 

Internal bottlenecks at INZ need addressing 

There are already significant issues within the Immigration Department itself with both staff retention and adjustments to the vast levels of rule changes this year. So it is strange logic to throw in a new set of alterations on top of the challenges already being faced. 

Surely a more thoughtful approach would be to deal with the backlog and internal problems before rolling out a strange, disjointed program that has the potential to undermine the department’s credibility further. 

There is plenty of work to be done with those applications already in motion under the 160-point system and in the temporary visa pipeline, so intelligent analysis suggests you tie up loose ends before completely overhauling an already overburdened bureaucracy. Especially considering the RV 2021 applications have still not been fully cleared. 

The Parent visa changes

Regarding the parent visa category, there is an increase in entries raised from 1000 to 2500 a year. However, there is disappointment that the government has implemented a ballot system for new entrants or applicants limited to 500 visas per year. This is just a new version of MIQ. 

The limit of 500 visas per year in the expression of interest (EOI) Ballot Pool, reduces it to 250 right off the bat if you consider that many parents will apply as couples.

While this may not be the best way to deal with a queue that currently stretches out for seven years, there are positive changes with the institution of co-sponsorship between siblings. This means that the siblings’ combined incomes can now be considered when submitting a parent visa application, although income requirements are confusing.

The reality is the increase in the median wage in February is going to flow into the Parent category income requirement for sponsors and make it difficult for most to support their parents’ application.

For professional advice about your parent Expression of Interest, their eligibility, your eligibility as a sponsor or any other questions about the Parent Resident or Skilled Migrant visa, contact the experts at New Zealand Immigration Law, who can assist you at any stage of the application process.

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