Nz Ita Cover Letter

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Highlights

2018

January

NZQA has changed the application process on IQA (International Qualification Assessment)

Skilled Newcomers Programme to match the skills of newcomers to Wellington with the needs of local businesses.

Immigration NZ accepts that assessments on Residence Visas for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) were flawed.

2017

December

Immigration Contribution to New Zealand 2016-17 (Infographic)

Skilled Migrant and Essential Skills policy – Changes to remuneration thresholds

‘Positive Start for Economic Growth’

Sustainability Checks on Employment of Migrant Workers – Not Always Ill Intended – Article by Ms. Tanvi Pande

November

No cuts to immigration coming just yet

Stolen People = Stolen Dreams- #Exploitation – Article by Ms. Hamneet Kaur Jaggi

Immigration NZ investigates educator over receipts

October

NZ’s fastest growing regions revealed

The guessing game of government ends – with more questions raised than answered. – Article by Ms. Mehak Singh

International students stealing our jobs? Immigration bad for the country? Let’s break down the rumours. – Article by Ms. Mehak Singh

Immigration NZ, MBIE use fake social media profiles

September

Clarification on current Skilled Migrant Category points – Skilled Work Experience

Why Immigration is important for New Zealand’s Growth.

Immigration proposes visa processing changes
Numbers Don’t Lie

August
Skilled Migrant Residence Visa – Points calculator announced
Essential Skills Work Visa – Policy changes announced
NZQA Rule changes announced – English language requirements for international students
Immigration Changes: What’s all the hue and cry about? – Article by Ms. Arunima Dhingra

July
Work & Resident Visa Changes – Effective from 28th August 2017
Skilled Migrant category changes – Effective from 28th August 2017

June
SELECTION OF EOIs WILL CEASE AFTER 19TH JULY 2017 – Amendments to the Skilled Migrant Category Residence
WD1 work visas – Who’s to say what’s relevant?

April
Skilled Migrant Category changes
Indian students left in limbo
Aims Global Indian market Student visa approval rate is 91%

March
Indian students left in limbo
Aims Global Indian market Student visa approval rate is 91%

February
Why NZ is a paradise on earth
Migrants enrich us as they enrich their own lives
Overcrowded wilderness

January
Teaching the experts
Migrants can and do make a difference
At NZ border
Job vacancy websites for migrants
Statistics NZ: Trends and outlook 2015/16

2016


December
Holidays break
Safety Tips during the Holidays
New Zealand is more popular than ever
Expressions of interest selections over the holiday period
On breaking the bubble: advice to new migrants
New Zealand Residence Programme – Skilled Migrant Category Fortnightly Selection Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Immigration New Zealand Visa Gateway shortlisted for the IXD Awards
NZ Government News: Funds required for NZ migrant investor visa will double
NZ Government News: Joanna Kempkers will be New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to India
INZ News: On 5 December 2016, the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment to be updated

November
Thinking of immigrating to NZ?
Parents Sponsorship increased from 5 to 10 years
International Students Matter
Immigration NZ assess the Indian market
More seasonal workers approved for 2016/17
New Zealand continues to be a favourite destination
What happened to the Indian students from IANZ
Beware of embellished versions of realities in NZ

October
Migrants contribution to the economy of NZ is significant and growing
Parent Category Residence Changes
New Zealand Residence Programme – Skilled Migrant Category Changes

September
A former migrant speaks: Why do I care? About exploited students and other migrants

August
NZ Skills Shortage List should be revamped

 

NZQA has changed the application process on International Qualifications Assessment (IQA)

New Zealand Qualification Authority’s has made a significant improvment to the International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) application process to make it much easier and faster for people to apply. From 26 January the application on NZQA website will include file upload capability for required documents—an improved application form and built-in help features.

This means that users will no longer be prompted to email certified, scanned copies of application documents to us. Uploading documents to the online application will be the way it’s done from that point.  With the improved application form, information, and help features, people will need to contact us less for help, as we’ve made it easier to get it right.

NZQA has developed this function because of the helpful insights they have received from their clients and stakeholders, and they are very pleased to announce this upgraded service.

If a client’s file partway finished when this change occurs (i.e., has been started but not submitted) there will be prompts to direct you back to the required upload steps. Full instructions will be included within the application. If an incomplete application has been submitted (e.g., documents not included), the nominated agent will be contacted via email and the application cancelled.

If you have any questions, please contact them at QRS@nzqa.govt.nz or +64 (4) 463 3000 (Freephone in NZ: 0800 697 296)

NZQA IQA Application form – Document Upload Function

As of 26 January the application process for the IQA will chnage. The new application process will require that scanned, certified documents be uploaded within the NZQA website application rather than emailed to NZQA.

Technical Specification 

• All files must be in PDF format

• File size is limited to 5 MB per file

• One file must be uploaded type (e.g., one file for an award certificate, one file for transcripts)

• Applications are not complete untill all required information is included and payment submitted via the online application

Required Documents

• Scanned documents must still be certified copies

• The application cover sheet has been replaced with a declaration form

• For the full list of required documents, Please check our Required Documents Webpage

Skilled Newcomers Programme to match the skills of newcomers to Wellington with the needs of local businesses.

“Wellington is a very high-skill city, it needs knowledge workers,” explains James Sauaga, the Programme Coordinator. Often newcomers have the skills employers need, but they don’t understand how to look for a job in New Zealand or what it is that employers are looking for.

“It can be very different from the way they approach things in their home countries,” says James. The Skilled Newcomers Programme works in collaboration with many local organisations, among them MCLaSS (Multicultural Learning and Support Services) and the Job Mentoring Service run by English Language Partners.

MCLaSS deliver regular workshops on behalf of the programme, teaching newcomers how to put together New Zealand-appropriate CVs and cover letters, and the best ways to approach job interviews.

Read More

Immigration NZ accepts that assessments on Residence Visas for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) were flawed.

Immigration New Zealand is reviewing its guidelines on residence visas for Information and communications technology (ICT) professionals after accepting its assessments were flawed.

Image courtesy: www.radionz.co.nz

It said it strengthened its decision-making on ICT customer support officers last year but would be reviewing its systems. Immigration statistics showed there were 59 rejections of residence applications for that role in the last financial year, double the number the year before, with a further 27 in the last months of 2017.

The review comes after a group of 15 workers successfully appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

Read More

Immigration Contribution to New Zealand 2016-17 (Infographic)

Please include attribution to www.aimsglobal.co.nz with this graphic.

 

Skilled Migrant and Essential Skills policy – Changes to remuneration thresholds

In August 2017, changes to the Skilled Migrant and Essential Skills policies were implemented, aimed at:

• ensuring we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand and to improve the skill composition of people gaining residence under the Skilled Migrant Category
• striking the right balance between ensuring New Zealanders are at the front of the queue for jobs while preserving access to the temporary migrant skills necessary for New Zealand’s continued economic growth.

The changes included introducing remuneration thresholds to both categories, with the aim of improving the assessment of skill and value to New Zealand.

Skilled Migrant and Essential Skills policy details announced

From 15 January 2018, the following changes will occur in the Skilled Migrant Category:

ThresholdPrior to 15 JanuaryFrom 15 January
Threshold for skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3$23.49 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$24.29 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold for skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 4-5, or which is not included in ANZSCO$35.24 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$36.44 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold to earn bonus points$46.98 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$48.58 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

 

From 15 January 2018, the following changes will occur in Essential Skills work visa category:

ThresholdPrior to 15 JanuaryFrom 15 January
Threshold for mid-skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3$19.97 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$20.65 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold for higher skilled employment in any occupation (including those at ANZSCO 4-5)$35.24 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$36.44 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

 

Read More

‘Positive Start for Economic Growth’

Otago-Southland businesses remain concerned about potential changes to immigration for both skilled and unskilled labour. Releasing the Otago-Southland BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance in Services Index results yesterday,  Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive Virginia Nicholls said election uncertainty affected the  sector.

Growth in construction and hospitality had outstripped the local labour supply, creating jobs for many migrants. “This is also occurring in rural and provincial areas where local labour supply cannot meet the demand for farm work.”

Suppliers to the hospital industry had been hard-hit. Retailers were  reporting slower sales than normal during October. Overall activity in the region’s services sector in October came in at 62.1 points, continuing recent expansion.

The regional index was 55.8 in August and 58.8 in September. The last time the index was above 60 points was in January, when it was 64.1.

Read More

Sustainability Checks on Employment of Migrant Workers – Not Always Ill Intended – Article by Ms. Tanvi Pande

It is often perceived that INZ’s aim for conducting these checks is to decline the applications and reduce migrant numbers in the country. But this is not true. The purpose of assessing sustainability is to avoid instances of workers arriving in New Zealand and not being provided the work they have been guaranteed by their employment agreement and condition of their work visa. The aim is to STOP MIGRANTS GETTING EXPLOITED.

Things which INZ checks to determine whether a company / employer is sustainable range from:

• Financial Statements – current + future projections
• GST Returns
• PAYE – Employer Monthly schedules
• Organisation Chart

Image courtesy: www.mfat.govt.nz

This is simply a suggestive list. INZ could also check sustainability of employment by conducting verification with the employer (telephone interviews, Site visits, etc.)

Sustainability checks are found to be very common with new employers (under a year old) and with employer’s who have not held a previous visa history with INZ

Certain things which raise doubts in INZ’s head about sustainability are Clauses in Employment agreements suggesting that an employee would not be paid if there are adverse weather or market conditions.

INZ requires a migrant worker to work for at least 30 hours in a week

Article By –
Ms. Tanvi Pande
Licensed Immigration Adviser (#201200324)

No cuts to immigration coming just yet

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her government will not immediately slash migrant number. During the election campaign, Labour said it would cut immigration by up to 30,000 people.

Image courtesy www.radionz.co.nz

But in an interview today with Reuters she says this was always an estimate not a target. Ardern said the minister for immigration is working through various proposals but she does not expect
any announcement soon.

“That was never within our 100 day plan, there were other priorities around housing, around health, around incomes that we were much more focused on,” she said.

Read More

Stolen People = Stolen Dreams- #Exploitation – Article by Ms. Hamneet Kaur Jaggi

Migrant exploitation is one of the most frightening and sad issues facing our immigration system today.  In recent years, there have been several media accounts of the exploitation of migrant workers in New Zealand. The exploitation of migrant workers is well publicized. However, what is sometimes lacking is information for migrant workers about what they are owed and what rights they have.

Please note-  No one can take away your rights. As an employee you have the right to: holidays leave, breaks, fair wages and written employment agreements. Some employers know that migrant workers can be afraid to report exploitation at work, especially if they are:

– working even though the conditions of their visa do not allow them to work in New Zealand

– They are in NZ unlawfully because their visa has expired and are worried they will have to leave New Zealand.

There have been some documented cases of employers preying upon these vulnerabilities and not treating employees in accordance with employment relations legislation.

If you are experiencing exploitation or are aware of it happening, you need not feel hesitant about reporting it. Reporting injustice does not mean you will come under fire yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Government bodies such as Immigration New Zealand and the Labour Inspectorate take such matters very seriously and will always aim to act in a way that is in the best interest of the victim. They are required to treat you fairly if you are brave enough to report genuine exploitation at work.

After looking deeper into this issue I have identified one common thread in almost every case – people do not come forward purely out of fear. Fear of retribution, fear of deportation, fear of having their lives ruined. What really needs to be brought to the forefront is that you will not get into trouble if you complain about exploitation at work. INZ, the Labour Inspectorate and New Zealand Police all have designated departments specifically for targeting and eliminating migrant exploitation.

There are many ways to help and keep yourself safe:

Keep copies of your passport and visa in your home country with family or friends.

In New Zealand, keep your passport and other travel documents in a safe place. It is illegal for your employer to take your passport from you.

Your employer must provide you with a written employment agreement covering the terms and conditions of your employment. Keep this in a safe place. Ensure that you read and understand the terms of your employment as well as your wage and holiday entitlements

Ensure you understand the work conditions of your work or student visa. Does it list who you can work for or a maximum number of hours you can work each week?

Ensure that you comply with these work conditions and you do not breach them. The best way to protect yourself against exploitation is to ensure that you do not break the law so that nobody can hold anything over your head in order to exploit you

Maintain your own independent records of your hours worked and the wages you are paid. Where possible have your wages paid into a personal bank account to which only you or another authorised person has access. This protects your money and this can help you to keep track of your wage payments.

Employers who exploit migrants can be imprisoned for up to seven years and/or fined up to NZ $100,000.  If you report migrant exploitation, remember that it is not you who has done something wrong, therefore you are not the one who needs to fear retribution.

Exploitation is a serious crime

Data and media reports indicate that exploitation is not confined to just one migrant group – it is widespread. Continued vigilance on the part of our government bodies is essential. We as industry stakeholders must remain mindful of the vulnerability that some temporary migrants can face and take a more practical approach in addressing the issue.

Sometimes, migrant exploitation could even come about as a form of manipulating stringent visa regulations. To avoid this form of exploitation, INZ could look  at the value a person can add to society – not just their salary. The owner/operator of a small business, has a migrant employee whose visa situation is precarious, as his salary is not high enough to qualify for residence. There have been cases when an employee  has offered to pay the employer the additional sum of money to bring his salary up to the required threshold. This is where reviews to the instructions could in fact have a flow on effect.

“The human race cannot forever exist with Half exploiters and half exploited”. – by Henry ford.

Ultimately, it is our own individual responsibility to stand up for the rights of those whose rights are being violated. When you tolerate crime, you are as culpable as the perpetrator.

Article written by-
Ms. Hamneet Kaur Jaggi
Licensed Immigration Adviser (#201500559)

Immigration NZ investigates educator over receipts

Receipts issued by the International College of Auckland on Queen Street showed students paid more in tuition fees than they actually had. For example, one receipt showed a payment of $6000 when just $4000 was paid.

The college then got students to sign up and make part payments of the remaining fees over the duration of their course.

“This appears to be a serious breach of [Immigration New Zealand] requirements,” the Qualifications Authority, which uncovered it, said.

Immigration New Zealand warned students from the college last week that they could lose out on getting new visas for failing the good-character requirements if they were found to supply false or misleading information in the receipts.

“INZ takes matters of immigration fraud very seriously and conducts robust assessment of all applications,” Immigration NZ said in a statement.

“As the investigation is still under way we are unable to comment any further.”

The college, which has more than 600 students, is already in trouble with NZQA over plagiarism and written English work done by students described as incomprehensible.

Read More

NZ’s fastest growing regions revealed

Northland and Waikato are snapping at the heels of Auckland as the regions with the fastest population growth.

Statistics New Zealand figures show Northland and Waikato grew 2.4 percent over the past year, just behind Auckland’s growth of 2.6 percent. New Zealand’s population grew by 100,400 in the year to June.

Seventy-thousand of that came from net migration, with more people arriving to live in the country than leaving.

Read More

The guessing game of government ends – with more questions raised than answered. – Article by Ms. Mehak Singh

It is finally official, NZ will undergo a drastic change in government with the formation of the centre-left Labour-NZ First-Green coalition. With big promises of governing NZ with a focus on caring for NZers and improving health and education systems, increasing the minimum wage, battling child poverty and climate change and improving development in the regions, there are a lot of high hopes for this government. But what do Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters and James Shaw have in store for NZ’s immigration policy?

Ms Ardern seems set to breathe new life and energy into NZ politics, bringing ‘generational change and a vision for the future of NZ’ as she puts it. During the election campaign, Labour has made bold overtures suggesting that immigration numbers would be cut from 70,000 to 40,000 per year. The party’s leadership has also proposed that under a Labour led government; immigration policy would be targeted toward encouraging highly skilled migrants to choose NZ, with a view to facilitating a much-needed injection of skills and experience into NZ’s labour market. Labour wishes to introduce a visa category for those with exceptional skills, as well as introducing the Kiwibuild visa to help meet their target of building 100,000 affordable homes in the next ten years. There is also talk of a move to remove the eligibility of international students to work following completion of their qualification unless their study is at university level or higher. These proposed changes are still largely unconfirmed at this stage. There is a big different between campaign rhetoric and practical implementation. The specifics of how all this will be achieved however, are still quite unclear. With Ms Ardern being sworn in this week, we still do not have a clear picture of what NZ immigration policy will look like in the coming months. All we can really be sure of is that the next three years will see some sort of shift in immigration policy. What this will actually look like is still very much in flux. As we all know, even the most minuite of changes to policy take time and involve a lot of input from multiple sources before any kind of decision is made.

NZ First’s leader Winston Peters has been nothing if not exceptionally vocal on his views on NZ’s current immigration system. He has stated during the election campaign that numbers should be slashed to as low as 10,000 immigrants from the current 70,000 per year. His rationale for this view is NZ’s unemployment rate and pressures on infrastructure. However, this is problematic for multiple reasons. Firstly, there is no evidence to support the claim that increased levels of immigration have any impact or influence on unemployment numbers. Secondly, the survival of many industries and businesses in NZ are largely contingent on the availability of migrant workers. This is especially true in the regions. Growth and development for the regions, particularly Northland and other parts of rural NZ, are one of the cornerstones upon which NZ First’s entire mission rests. Rather than slashing immigration numbers indiscriminately, perhaps Mr Peters and his supporters could consider the positive impact migrant workers could have on growing the economies of regional NZ. No economy can grow without migrant workers, as no country can boast a comprehensive skill distribution within its local labour market.

We now have a government after weeks of deliberation and ambiguity, but the future of our immigration policy is still unclear. We as practitioners within the immigration industry have found ourselves inundated with questions from clients and stakeholders, asking us to predict the future of immigration rules under our new centre-left government. The short answer at this point is that we really do not know. There were a lot of things promised and negotiated during the election and the weeks since, but what will actually be delivered is yet to be seen. Immigration is one of the most dynamic, fast paced and constantly involving industries in the country, and we are cautiously optimistic about what the future will hold.

Article written by
Mehak Singh
Licensed Immigration Adviser (#201500252)

International students stealing our jobs? Immigration bad for the country? Let’s break down the rumours. – Article by Ms. Mehak Singh

With the future of the country still to be decided, and NZ First’s decision eagerly awaited, lets talk about immigration and what it means for NZ over the next three years. Firstly, as we all know, NZ First has a well-documented and publicised stance on immigration – in short, the best way to fix our country’s unemployment woes is to slash immigration numbers. What has not been explained is the factual basis, if any, for this assumption.

From the research and statistics, the assumption that high volume immigration has a negative impact on wage growth, or that it undercuts the local labour market, has been widely discredited. Research shows that unemployment rates for local populations remain unaffected by variations in immigration numbers.

Migrant workers bring with them a variety of skills that may not exist within the local labour market, and therefore are not taking away jobs from anyone. So the rumours that have been flying around about how cutting immigration numbers will solve all of our unemployment or infrastructure woes is completely false.

Regardless of who forms our new government, immigration will be a priority. Though immigration policy has evolved over the past couple of decades under both National and Labour governments, the major elements mostly remained the same. Other than some sporadic tweaks, the residence points calculator itself has remained largely unchanged until earlier this year. With an election to win, the National government decided to target immigration.

With extensive changes to the points calculator effective since 28 August 2017, the pathway to residence has been significantly altered. It is almost as though migrant workers, and international students in particular, have been demonized by the campaign rhetoric of all the major parties. What the politicians are not recognising is how much NZ needs international students. We are encountering skill shortages in a variety of industries, and we need to attract migrants to fill these shortages. International students are not the enemy but rather an exceptional resource that is not being tapped effectively and efficiently enough.

NZ needs construction workers, dairy and horticulture workers and trades people. Instead we are getting a vast influx of international students to courses in business, healthcare and computing. Skills and demand are encountering a mismatch. If an international student wishes to come to NZ to learn a trade like carpentry, often they cannot gain admission into these courses. If the provider does offer such courses to international students, they are ineligible for a job search visa because trades courses are at a lover level on the NZ qualifications framework. Therefore, without a clear post- qualification pathway, there is no incentive to attract international students to study toward a career in the trades.

Regardless of who is left standing in Parliament after the dust settles, they need to understand that international students need to be incentivised into meeting labour market demand, rather than using the term ‘international students’ as scapegoats in a scaremongering campaign to mislead the public.

NZ is made up of primarily a migrant population, from Pakeha migrants who arrived on our shores from Europe in the 19 th Century, to Asian international students who have come here in recent years for a brighter future. We cannot ignore the fact that we need migrants to make our country flourish and our economy grow. What needs to happen is a recognition of the types of skills we really need, followed by a targeted approach to attracting the right type of migrants with a tailored and streamlined immigration policy. Let us look toward our new government with optimism and expectation to see how it handles this responsibility.

Mehak Singh
Licensed Immigration Adviser (#201500252)

Immigration NZ, MBIE use fake social media profiles

Immigration New Zealand and its parent – the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – use false social media profiles for investigations and risk assessment, the ministry has confirmed.
Generally, MBIE staff were not authorised to use pseudonyms or false names in their work, a spokesperson told RNZ.

“However, some ministry staff use false social media personas on social media to support verification, intelligence, and investigation work relating to the exercise of regulatory, compliance, and enforcement functions.

Read More

Clarification on current Skilled Migrant Category points – Skilled Work Experience

Many of you have contacted us asking for clarification on how many points they would get for one-year skilled work experience as per the current SMC calculator. The answer is, unfortunately, none. It is only when you have acquired two years skilled work experience, would you be able to claim the 20 points.
For a complete points breakdown, find the points calculator here.

Immigration proposes visa processing changes

Immigration New Zealand is proposing changes that will see more visa processing done in fewer, strategic locations, and to specialise visa processing by customer sector, i.e. business, education, tourism.

Online visa applications and INZ’s technology provides the opportunity for a new approach to ensure more accurate, timely and consistent visa decision making says INZ General Manager of Visa Service, Steve Stuart.

“INZ is proposing that they would reduce their offshore presence and bring it to five from 17 different location. There will be processing centres in Beijing and Mumbai, with three offices in the Pacific also remaining,” Mr Stuart says.

ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson says INZ is a close partner and will be keeping ENZ informed of its proposed changes and the impact they may have in our key markets.

Read More

Numbers Don’t Lie

In a recent Official Information Act request made to Immigration New Zealand, some interesting information and patterns have emerged from the data.
This information confirms the issue we raised around a rapid and alarming shift in the rates of decline of WD1 visa applications, as well as a significant shift in the amount of time taken to process the applications.
In the period from July 2016 to July 2017, the rate of decline for WD1 work visas had gone up, the length of time spent processing the applications had increased, and the result of both of these factors in conjunction was ex-international students who were rendered unlawful with very limited options for regularising their immigration status.

WD1 Post Study work visa – employer assisted applications

The bulk of Post Study Work Visa – Employer Assisted applications went to one of three INZ branches – Auckland Central, Henderson and Hamiltion. Perhaps the most alarming of our findings from the OIA request shows approval rates for the Auckland Central branch (ACB) dropped from 87.3% in July 2016 to 34.6% in June 2017. The applicants are all graduates of NZ tertiary institutions who have successfully completed their courses of study, been granted their Post Study Work Visa – Open, and have secured an offer of full time employment from a NZ employer.

Timeliness

What was perhaps even more concerning in the statistics obtained from the OIA request was the notable increase in the amount of time these offices were taking to process WD1 applications. The extrapolated data I present uses a timeframe of 29 working days as standard processing time, and a clear trend of applications taking increasingly longer to process can be seen in the data.
The longer INZ takes to decide on the outcome of an application, the more likely the applicant will be issued an interim visa and in conjunction with the increase in decline rates, be more likely to become unlawful following a decision to decline.
ACB – processing timeliness reduced drastically from 85.30% in July 2016 to average 30.32% between December 2016 to April 2017.


Henderson – processing timeliness reduced substantially from 87.20% July 2016 to 51.10% in January 2017. These statistics demonstrate the link between increased timeframes and applicants becoming unlawful.

Statistics of Section 61 approval rates from July 2016 to July 2017

Overall approval rates for Section 61 requests had dropped from 68% in July 2016 to average 28.85% in June/July 2017. It seems unlikely that the clear link between these factors would be the result of coincidence – increase in decline rates, longer processing times and a massive drop in section 61 approval rates all point to a bigger picture.

When all of this data is viewed collectively, a developing pattern is discernible and in fact quite obvious. When the instructions remain unchanged, why has the number of applicants obtaining a successful outcome from the application process in this category decreased so rapidly? I think these numbers are quite significant, and we as practitioners need to open up a discussion to determine the cause of these alarming trends.

Arunima Dhingra
NZAMI Director

 

Changes to the Skilled Migrant Category were announced on 19 April 2017 and will be implemented on 28 August 2017.

The changes to the Skilled Migrant Category include:

– The introduction of remuneration thresholds as an additional means of defining skilled employment:

– Jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 must be paid at or above $23.49 per hour, which equates to a salary of $48,859 per year based on a 40 hour week
– Jobs that are not ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 must be paid at or above $35.24 per hour, which equates to a salary of $73,299 per year based on a 40 hour week.

– The introduction of bonus points for high remuneration at or above $46.98 per hour, which equates to a salary of $97,718 per year based on a 40 hour week.

– More points available for work experience, but points will only be awarded for work experience that is skilled.

– Ten points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more, with no additional points for work experience of two years or more.

– Points for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase to 70 points.

– Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase to 30 points.

– Points will only be awarded for partners’ qualifications if the qualifications are either a Bachelor’s level degree or higher, or a post-graduate (level 9 or 10) qualification.

– Points will no longer be available for: employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas; points for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage or points for close family in New Zealand.

– All applicants who meet the health, character, English and selection point requirements, but do not have either skilled employment or a higher degree gained in New Zealand will be invited to apply for a ‘job search visa’ to enable them to find ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand.

– There will be greater flexibility for offshore applicants to travel to New Zealand within the 12 month validity of their ‘job search visa’.

– The new immigration instructions, effective from 28 August, are published in the Amendment Circular. Some frequently asked questions are set out below.

How is the SMC changing?
The SMC is changing to improve the skill composition of people gaining residence under the Skilled Migrant Category and ensure we attract migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand.

The changes affect many aspects of the policy, including:
– The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
– The points awarded for work experience, qualifications and age.

Some points factors are also being removed:

Points for employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas, as well as points for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage and points for close family in New Zealand.

When will the changes come into effect?
On 28 August 2017.

What requirements are changing under the SMC? How will this affect the points awarded?
The number of points that people can claim for criteria under the SMC has changed. New requirements may also need to be met to gain these points.

Please click at the link below to read more detailed information:
Read More

Please click at the link below for the new SMC points calculator:
Points Calculator

Essential Skills Work Visa – Policy changes announced

Changes to the Essential Skills work visa policy were announced on 27 July 2017, following an extensive round of consultation. These support changes already announced to the residence Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). Changes to SMC and Essential Skills policies will both be implemented on 28 August 2017.

The changes to the Essential Skills work visa category include:

– The introduction of remuneration bands to help assess the skill level of employment offered to Essential Skills visa applicants

– The introduction of a maximum duration of 3 years for Essential Skills workers in lower-skilled employment. After 3 years, lower-skilled workers will need to spend 12 consecutive months outside New Zealand before they can be granted a further Essential Skills visa to undertake lower-skilled work

– Requiring the partners and children of Essential Skills workers in lower-skilled employment to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right

– The introduction of transitional instructions for existing visa holders. These will allow partners and children of Essential Skills workers in lower-skilled employment to remain in New Zealand if they already hold a visa based on their relationship

– The introduction of immigration instructions which allow international students who transition to lower skilled employment to continue to support work and student visa applications for their family, if they were able to support those applications while studying

– The introduction of visa conditions which require that visa holders continue to be paid above the relevant remuneration threshold and that they provide evidence of remuneration payment if requested by an immigration officer.

The new immigration instructions, effective from 28 August, are published in the Amendment Circular. Some frequently asked questions are below.

What are the changes?
The changes apply to all applications made on and after 28 August 2017. There are 3 key changes from the existing Essential Skills policy:

1. Remuneration will be used when determining the skill band of a visa applicant’s employment. The skill band is used to determine the visa length and whether a visa holder’s partner or dependent child can apply for visas on the basis of their relationship.

2. People who have held Essential Skills work visas for 3 years for lower-skilled employment must spend 12 consecutive months outside NZ before they can get a further Essential Skills work visa for lower-skilled employment. The 3 year calculation does not include time spent in New Zealand while holding a visa granted before 28 August 2017.

3. Family members cannot be granted visas based on their relationship to an Essential Skills work visa holder who is undertaking lower-skilled work (note there are special arrangements for those already in New Zealand and family members of students/ex-students).

When do the changes take effect?
The amended immigration instructions come into place on 28 August 2017. The changes do not affect existing Essential Skills visa holders until they apply for their next Essential Skills visa.

How many skill bands are there?
There are 3 skill bands: lower-skilled, mid-skilled, and higher-skilled.

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NZQA Rule changes announced – English language requirements for international students

Internal tests are not acceptable for a student who holds a passport from a country that has had its name and visa decline rate of more than 20% [India’s visa approval rate is 65% i.e. more than 20% decline rate]. Evidence that the student has achieved, within the two years preceding the proposed date of enrolment, one of the internationally recognised proficiency test outcomes specified in the Table for the level of the programme in which the student is enrolling.

The listed outcomes in the Table represent the minimum scores or grades for each test or qualification that qualify a student for enrolment at each programme level. Students with higher scores or grades than required for a particular programme level may still enrol at that level. Where the entry requirements for a programme are for a higher English proficiency outcome than is listed in the relevant row of the Table for the programme level in which the student is being enrolled, the student must meet that higher level [i.e. While enrolling for Level 5 qualification, student must have submitted IELTS score of overall 5.5 with no band less than 5 but before enrolling for Level 6 student will require to provide new IELTS score since the IELTS requirement for Level 6 is overall 6.0 with no band less than 5.5]

As per NZQA
18.1 An institution (other than a university) must:

(a) verify, prior to enrolling an international student in a programme (other than an English language programme) at level 3 or above, that the student has the necessary English language proficiency as demonstrated (except as provided in Rule 18.2) through the use of evidence of one of the kinds described in Rules 18.3 to 18.6; and
(b) retain a copy of that evidence for at least two years from the date of enrolment of the student.

18.2 Evidence of the kinds described in Rules 18.5 and 18.6 must not be used for a student who holds a passport from a country that has had, under Rule 18.7, its name and visa decline rate of more than 20% published for one month or more.

18.3 Evidence that the student has:

(a) achieved NCEA level 3 and has met New Zealand university entrance requirements; or
(b) been awarded a Bachelor Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree with English as the language of instruction, from tertiary education providers from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States; or
(c) been awarded the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA).

18.4 Evidence that the student has achieved, within the two years preceding the proposed date of enrolment, one of the internationally recognised proficiency test outcomes specified in the Table in the Appendix for the level of the programme in which the student is enrolling.

18.5 Evidence of either of the following kinds of previous primary and secondary study in English by the student:

(a) completion of all primary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand primary school years 1 to 8) and at least three years of secondary education (being the equivalent of three years from New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or
(b) completion of at least five years of secondary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction.

18.6 Evidence that the student has achieved an outcome in the institution’s internal English proficiency assessment that is equivalent to or better than the outcomes listed in the Table in the Appendix for the programme level in which the student is enrolling, where:

(a) the institution is a Category 1 or 2 institution;
(b) the internal English proficiency assessment is administered by the institution;
(c) the institution has been granted NZQA’s approval for the internal English proficiency assessment in accordance with Rule 18A; and
(d) the approval referred to in paragraph (c) has been listed on NZQA’s website.

18.7 Immigration New Zealand will measure (based on statistics generated over a period of time set by Immigration New Zealand) the student visa application decline rate of countries, and where the measurement shows that a country’s student visa application decline rate is more than 20%, Immigration New Zealand will publish on its website the name of that country and its student visa application decline rate.

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Immigration Changes: What’s all the hue and cry about?
Article by Ms. Arunima Dhingra

In an election year fraught with scandal, controversy and conjecture, immigration has moved to the forefront of every political debate, and for good reason. As a nation, New Zealand has a reputation around the world as an idyllic location for tourists, as well as the destination of choice for international students and skilled migrants. In recent years, the number of people coming to NZ, for a variety of purpose, has risen steadily. Though this has had multiple positive effects, including boosting the economy, bringing important skills to the NZ workforce and giving industries such as tourism and education a shot in the arm, there have also been some negatives – pressures on infrastructure and roads, house prices being driven up, employment issues and an impact on the public health system.

Much in the news of late are the significant changes being introduced to the Skilled Migrant Category for residence, as well as the Essential Skills category of temporary entry work visas. However I find all the negative publicity around these changes, a bit disturbing. Could the negativity be because of fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge about what exactly is going to happen?

To understand the potential impact and reasoning behind the changes to key immigration policy, it is first essential to learn what exactly the changes entail. Through my own decade and a half of experience in the industry, I have seen immigration go through much change and development. However, the past year has been perhaps the most interesting. Firstly, the government has made significant changes to the Skilled Migrant Category for residence, beginning in October 2016 and culminating in a complete overhaul of the points system to be implemented on 28 August 2017.

For those who are unfamiliar with the changes, here they are:

– SMC applicants must now meet one of two income thresholds for their employment in NZ. This rounds up to $48,859 for skilled occupations, and $73,299 for unskilled but highly paid occupations. These minimum income thresholds ensure skilled migrant workers are earning remuneration that is commensurate with their qualifications and experience, and only those who earn appropriate remuneration are eligible to apply for residence.

Though this is expectedly upsetting a lot of people and rendering some of them ineligible for applying under this category, on the other hand it is opening up gates for so many high earning and high value skilled occupations that earlier did not have enough points for SMC due to factors such as no recognised qualification. To put things in perspective, a fresh graduate with a diploma in business could start working at a dairy as a manager outside Auckland at $40K, and be eligible for residence whereas a Business development manager at $80K with some years of work experience but no formal qualification could not! Clearly the system needed to swing in the right direction, and a change was necessary.

– Bonus points for identified future growth areas and areas of absolute skills shortage will no longer be offered. This change seems to no longer reward skilled migrants for filling important skill needs and shortages, and seems quite problematic. How industries such as ICT, healthcare and construction, for example, get affected by this, only time would tell as we all know that these industries desperately need an injection of skilled workers to take up the jobs available, and removing the bonus points for job offer, experience or qualifications in these specific, recognised fields may subtract from the quality of skilled labour coming into NZ.

– Extra points will now be able to be claimed for applicants aged 30 to 39. In my opinion, this is a positive change. In my wide experience, people in this demographic group are often at their best in terms of their career trajectory. They often have significantly more work and life experience than their younger counterparts. This makes them perhaps the most valuable group of skilled migrants.

– Removal of points for close family in NZ is also on the cards for the SMC following the implementation of the changes at the end of August. For those applying for residence, their potential for successful settlement into NZ is significantly increased and improved if they have a member of their immediate family resident in NZ. Therefore, I do not believe that the removal of this category of points was a warranted change.

– Lastly, there will be changes to points for work experience and some specific post graduate qualifications, as well as an increase in the number of countries considered to have labour markets comparable to NZ. However, exact details of these changes and how they will affect the point’s calculator are yet to be released by INZ. We will need to wait and see what the impact would be.

It is expected that further details around these changes will be announced before or on 28 Aug 2017.

In addition to the SMC changes, there are also a number of changes coming into effect on 28 August, to the Essential Skills work visa category. These include:

– Three bands of remuneration will be introduced under the Essential Skills category. This means that any migrant earning below $41,538 a year will be considered lower skilled and will be subject to the stand down periods explained below. Any migrant earning between $41,538 and $73,299 a year in an occupation classified as ANZSCO Level 1 – 3 will be considered mid-skilled, and those earning over $73,299 a year will automatically be considered higher-skilled, regardless of their occupation.

Those whose occupation is considered low skilled are able to apply for a maximum of three one-year work visas, and once they have completed three years of said visas, a stand down period of 12 months will be imposed. For these 12 months the applicant will need to be outside of NZ and will be unable to apply for another Essential Skills work visa. In addition to this, those who fall into this low skilled category will be ineligible to support partners’ or dependent children’s’ applications. Their partners and children will have to apply for and be eligible for visas in their own right.
I believe that this will cause a lot of turmoil and tension initially and through the transitional period. This, though unfortunate, is ultimately unavoidable. However, I also believe that the government’s long-term vision here may in fact be spot on. Essential Skills work visas are supposed to be temporary in nature especially when there may be no pathways to residence due to low skill levels.

The purpose of the visa category is to bring in migrant workers to fill vacancies that cannot be filled locally. Those who hold these visas are here to work, gain important work experience, and then return to their home country to utilise the work experience gained. According to the government, they are focused on driving home the point that ‘temporary means temporary’. Those coming to NZ for a maximum of three years on this type of visa perhaps should not in fact be uprooting their families to come over with them, only to return to their home country a short time later, and face a struggle to readjust.

However those who will get affected by this change may find this unfair. I agree and only wish there was an interim solution for those already here. But for any government to affect change, there is an unavoidable and inevitable period of upheaval that cannot be overlooked.

– Those who fall into the mid skilled and high skilled categories under Essential Skills will not face any restrictions on supporting partners/dependent children, nor will they incur the stand down period after three years. The rules for these types of applicants will remain largely unchanged.

The purpose and direction of these policy changes is clear – bring in migrants to fill important skill shortages, and only offer a potential pathway to residence to those who are likely to have positive outcomes and settlement. However, though the intention may be positive, and may in fact change the face of immigration in NZ in a positive way in the next five years, the way in which these changes were brought in was problematic to say the least. First the government makes an ambiguous announcement in April, stating in broad and uncertain terms that SMC and Essential Skills would undergo significant change, which would be implemented in mid August. A clarification was promised in June, which never really came about. The roll out date was decided for mid August and then pushed out to the end of August. Even today, with just two weeks to go before the roll out of the new policy, wherein the SMC Expressions of Interest are to reopen on 28 August 2017, there is still no sign of the points calculator.

We as practitioners of immigration law are at a loss as to what to tell our clients when they ask if they are eligible for residence. All we can say to them as that we know as much as they do at this point, and can only give them a clear answer once INZ releases the points calculator. This is a complete flip flop on the part of the government, and has left a bad taste in the mouth for the majority of industry stakeholders with regards to the changes, taking away from what these changes are actually bringing to the country.

Ultimately, we are sure of one thing and one thing only. Immigration is the hot button issue, and the most talked about policy issue of the moment. Through these policy changes, the government seeks to improve outcomes for migrants, as well as build and maintain the NZ brand, boost the economy and maximise productivity for employers across a wide range of industries. Where once there was a clear pathway to residence for international students working in retail, hospitality or ICT following completion of their studies, there is now an uphill struggle. What the government is trying to drive home is that temporary entry means just that – temporary. And opening pathways to highly skilled migrants who may not have the necessary qualifications but do have substantial work experience and are highly paid.

I believe this is a justified shift but whether it will have the desired impact or effect, and whether it will in fact meet all its intended objectives, is something that only time will tell. I am excited about this new chapter in NZ’s immigration system, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for us – both Kiwis and migrants alike.

Arunima Dhingra

 

The Government has made decisions on proposals announced in April to change the settings for temporary migrant workers under the Essential Skills policy.

The changes will support already announced changes to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) residence policy and strike the right balance between ensuring New Zealanders are at the front of the queue for jobs and preserving access to the temporary migrant labour necessary for New Zealand’s continued economic growth.

THE CHANGES INCLUDE:
– The introduction of remuneration bands to assess the skill level of roles offered to Essential Skills visa applicants
– The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders, after which they will need to spend 12 months outside New Zealand before they can be granted an Essential Skills visa to work in another lower-skilled role, and
– Requiring the partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right (they will still have access to short-term visitor visas).

The changes will be introduced on 28 August this year, at the same time as the changes to the SMC. Detailed information about the application of these policy changes will be available within the next fortnight. That will include how the remuneration threshold will be calculated, implications for family members of workers in lower-skilled roles, and how the stand-down period will be applied. Stay tuned to this page.

Why are we introducing remuneration bands and what will they be?

Remuneration is an excellent proxy for skills and the introduction of remuneration bands will complement the qualifications and occupation framework (ANZSCO). The bands are:-
Higher-skilled – Any Essential Skills visa holder earning above 1.5 times the New Zealand median full-time income (currently $73,299 per year), regardless of their occupation
Mid-skilled – Any Essential Skills visa holder earning above 85 per cent of the New Zealand median full-time income (currently $41,538 per year), in an occupation classified as ANZSCO Level 1-3, and
Lower-skilled – Any Essential Skills visa holder earning below the mid-skilled remuneration threshold.

How many lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders will be affected by the proposals?

Setting the mid-skilled remuneration threshold at 85% of the New Zealand median wage would mean that between 9,700 and 11,800 Essential Skills visa holders at ANZSCO levels 1-3 would be classified as lower-skilled (totalling between 38% and 46% of Essential Skills visa holders at ANZSCO levels 1-3). As at 13 May 2017 there were 11,214 Essential Skills visa holders in occupations at skill levels 4 and 5. While a small number may earn above the higher-skilled threshold we expect the majority to remain lower-skilled under the new definition.

How will employers be able to source the labour they need under the proposals?

Immigration policy is premised on a New Zealanders first approach and employers are required to ensure they are doing all they can to train and employ New Zealanders. However, these changes are not designed to reduce the number of migrants coming in on temporary work visas. Where there are genuine skills shortages, employers will still be able to recruit temporary migrant workers, as long as they can demonstrate there are not New Zealanders available to do the job.

Why has three years been chosen as the maximum duration for lower-skilled Essential Skills work visas?

A maximum duration of three years provides a balance between giving lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders the opportunity to transition to a higher skilled Essential Skills visa or obtain residence, while also ensuring that migrants with no pathway to residence do not become well-settled in New Zealand.  It also provides employers with time to recruit new staff or upskill existing staff to fill the role.

How will the decision to limit lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to a maximum initial three-year period affect people already here?

The change will not be applied retrospectively for lower-skilled Essential Skills workers already in New Zealand.  The three year maximum duration will start from the date their next lower-skilled Essential Skills visa is granted after the introduction of the changes to the Essential Skills policy.

Why are you restricting the ability of partners and children of lower-skilled migrant workers to come here?

The changes are designed to ensure that lower-skilled migrants are clear about their future prospects in New Zealand. Lower skilled Essential Skills workers will take up employment in New Zealand with a full understanding that they will only be able to bring their family to New Zealand as a short-term visitor, unless they meet visa requirements in their own right. Removing eligibility for open work visas for partners of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders will potentially provide more opportunities for local workers to take on those roles. While some lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders could be discouraged from coming to New Zealand it is not expected to reduce the numbers of principal Essential Skills applicants.

Will the change affect families already here?

Families of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders already in New Zealand will be able to remain here for the duration that the Essential Skills visa holder remains legally in New Zealand.

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Skilled Migrant category changes – Effective from 28th August 2017

Two remuneration thresholds are being introduced for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). One will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid.

The automatic selection mark for applicants under the SMC was increased from 140 points to 160 in October last year and the Government has now realigned the points system to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.

More points will be available for skilled work experience and some recognised post graduate qualifications, and points for age will increase for applicants aged 30-39.

Points will no longer be available for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage, for employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas and for close family in New Zealand.

The changes will be implemented on 28 August 2017.

How is the SMC changing?

Amendments are being made to the Skilled Migrant Category to improve the skill composition and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand. The changes affect many aspects of the policy, including changes to:
– The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
– The points awarded for qualifications and age.
– Points for some factors will be removed.

When will you know the details of the points allocation?

The Cabinet papers relating to the policy announcements have now been proactively released so the proposed values are accessible.

When will the changes come into effect?

On 28 August 2017.

Are the changes designed to allow fewer people to be granted residence under the SMC?

While there will be an impact on some people in low paid employment, the changes expand the definition of skilled employment to allow some people to obtain residence who have previously been unable to claim points for their employment in New Zealand – people who are not currently considered to be in skilled employment because their job is not in an Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupation will be able to claim points for their job if they are earning $73,299 or more per year.

Will particular types of applicants benefit from the changes?

The changes put more focus on skilled work experience, more recognition of skill levels in the 30-39 age group and high salary levels.

What are the specific changes in each policy area?

Skilled employment
– The same number of points will be awarded for both an offer of skilled employment and current skilled employment in New Zealand.
– Remuneration thresholds are being introduced as an additional means of defining skilled employment.
– Applicants with jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 will only be awarded points for their employment if they are paid at or above NZ$48,859 per year (or NZ$23.49 per hour).
– Applicants with jobs that are not in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupations may be assessed as being in skilled employment if they are paid at or above NZ$73,299 per year (or NZ$35.24 per hour).
– Bonus points will be awarded for remuneration at or above NZ$97,718.00 per year (or NZ$46.98 per hour)
– Remuneration thresholds will be updated annually based on New Zealand income data.

Work experience
– More points will be available for work experience.
– Points will be awarded for skilled work experience in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 and 3 occupations.
– Points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more. There will be no additional points for work experience of two years or more.

Qualifications, age and partner’s qualifications
– Points available for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase.
– Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase.
– Partner’s qualifications will only be awarded points if they are a recognised Bachelor’s level degree or higher or a recognised post-graduate (level 9 or higher) qualification.

Which factors will applicants no longer be able to gain points for?

Points for the following factors will be removed:
– qualifications in an area of absolute skills shortage
– skilled employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas
– close family support in New Zealand

Are there any changes to the health, character or English language requirements?

No there are no changes to these aspects of the SMC instructions.

Why is the SMC changing?

The Government is committed to ensuring our immigration settings best support the economy and the labour market. These changes are designed to improve the skill composition of the SMC and ensure that it prioritises higher-paid and higher-skilled migrants.

Is there any way to comment or provide feedback on the SMC changes?

No. The proposals were already consulted on in 2016 and the changes will happen on 28 August 2017.

Will the selection point change when the new SMC comes into effect?

The selection point is able to be adjusted by the Minister of Immigration as necessary for the overall planning range of the New Zealand Residence Programme, so the selection point may change from time to time. There is no information at the present time concerning where the selection point will be set when the adjusted Skilled Migrant Category is implemented.

Will the salary thresholds change?

The salary thresholds are based on information from New Zealand income data and will be reviewed annually.

Will there be a regional variation to the remuneration thresholds?

No there is no regional variation.

Will the new policies affect the way that student visas are assessed?

The changes apply to the SMC residence policy, not student visa instructions.

Do the changes to SMC affect the post study work visas available to graduates?

No. There are no changes to post study work visas (graduate job search or employer assisted) as a result of these SMC announcements.

It was announced that graduates of level 9 and 10 qualifications will be able to claim more points under the SMC for those qualifications. Does this mean that there will be fewer points for qualifications under level 9?

No. There are no point reductions for qualifications below level 9.

There are students who commenced their studies under the impression that they would meet the points threshold and be able to apply for SMC. What happens to current students who are worried that they won’t meet SMC requirements because of the recent changes?

While we understand that changes to immigration policies can cause confusion and uncertainty for students, they will need to meet the SMC requirements that apply at the time they lodge their application. People whose EoIs are selected from the SMC Pool before the change to the policy will be able to apply under the current rules if their selection results in an invitation to apply.

I have already submitted my SMC application but it has not yet been finalised.  What will happen to my application if it is not decided until after the changes come into effect?

Because your application was submitted before the changes come into effect it will continue to be assessed under the current instructions.

My SMC Expression of Interest (EoI) has been selected from the SMC Pool but I have not yet been invited to apply: if I obtain an invitation to apply before the changes come into effect but do not submit my SMC residence application until after the changes come into effect, can I be assessed under the current SMC instructions?

If your Invitation to Apply was issued on the basis of a selection from the SMC Pool before the policy change your application will be assessed under the SMC instructions that were in place at the time your EoI was selected, regardless of whether you application is submitted after the changes come into effect.  The application must be received within the standard four month limit.

If my EoI is selected from the SMC Pool before the changes come into effect but is then returned to the Pool, what will happen to my EoI?

If your EoI has been selected from the Pool but is returned to the Pool because it does not meet the requirements for an Invitation to Apply, you will be able to edit and resubmit your EoI on the new EoI form, at no cost.  The new form will reflect the new requirements. However if, as a result of the changes, you are no longer able to claim 100 points, your EoI will not be accepted into the Pool.

When will more detailed information be available about the changes to the SMC?

We hope to have more information available in early August 2017.

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SELECTION OF EOI’s WILL CEASE AFTER 19TH JULY 2017 – Amendments to the Skilled Migrant Category Residence

Skilled Migration Category residence instructions have been amended to include the last date of selection from the current Skilled Migrant Category pool, which will be 19 July 2017. EOIs that have total points of 160 or more are selected automatically from the Pool. Selections of EOIs will cease after 19 July 2017.
More news to come shortly, stay tuned to this page.
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WD1 work visas – Who’s to say what’s relevant?

Once again, I find myself faced with somewhat of an anomaly in my immigration advice practice. International students from all over to world come to New Zealand for exposure to a superior education experience, as well as to pursue brighter career prospects upon completion of their qualification. Immigration New Zealand recognises that academic knowledge in isolation is not enough to produce well-rounded professionals. In order to hone acquired skills and get real world context to the things a student learns in the classroom, it is important to gain valuable work experience. Because of this, New Zealand offers international students the opportunity to apply for graduate work experience visas, first for the purpose of finding a job and then for the purpose of gaining relevant experience so that they may eventually gain a pathway to residence in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand’s immigration instructions for the Post Study – Employer Assisted work visa category (WD1) – state that for the grant of a visa under this category, the offer of employment must meet two key criteria:

– Be relevant to the main subject area of the qualification
– Be a key factor in the employer’s decision to offer the applicant the role

Seems fairly self-explanatory doesn’t it? We would think so, but this visa category has caused endless confusion, misinterpretation and ambiguity amongst migrants, advisers and numerous other stakeholders within the immigration industry and this has been particularly prevalent in recent months.

In the last couple of months, we have come across countless work visa applications under this category that Immigration New Zealand officers have raised concerns around ‘relevance’ between qualification gained and employment. We have submitted numerous such applications with successful outcomes for many years now. However, in the past few months we have noted a shift in the way assessment of ‘relevance’ is done. A Level 7 Business graduate with a job offer as an Assistant Manager in any retail or hospitality setting is facing an uphill battle to get assessing immigration officers to recognise relevance between their qualification and employment.

I believe that the recent VisaPak on WD1 instructions that came out a few months ago, plays a big role here. In the VisaPak, there are three examples of qualifications and job offers, categorised as relevant, maybe relevant and not relevant. The ‘maybe relevant’ example makes mention of assistant managers and supervisors with management qualifications. The ‘clearly relevant’ example points to a junior bookkeeper who has studied a diploma in accounting.

It appears that to err on the side of caution, officers are making the assumption that most business graduates with mid management roles, do not meet the relevance requirement.

The other concern that assessing officers have with WD1 applications is whether or not the qualification was a key factor in the employer’s decision to recruit the applicant. I believe there may be a flaw in the way this is being discerned in multiple dozens of PPI / decline letters we have seen recently. An employer supplementary form is the only area where an employer can state entry requirements for the role. So the question is around how assessment of whether a qualification was a key factor in an employer’s decision to recruit an applicant or not, is done.

Again, the factors outlined in the VisaPak are perhaps the issue here. It outlines various methods that can be undertaken for this assessment and I believe this approach is very narrow. I will be covering a detailed analysis of this in my presentation at the next NZAMI seminar in Auckland on 9 June.

Obviously not all job descriptions match academic transcripts down to the letter, but that doesn’t mean the qualification isn’t the primary reason for the applicant being recruited. In fact on the contrary, a job description that very closely matches with the applicant’s transcript should perhaps be questioned for authenticity and genuineness. An advertisement cannot be so skewed as to match academic transcripts paper by paper. In fact where in the instructions does it state that the qualification and job must match paper by paper.

The main requirement for this visa is that the key responsibilities utilise skills acquired in the main subject area of the qualification. An IT graduate uses a wide range of IT skills in his day to day tasks as a fibre technician, but he did not learn to be a fibre technician specifically in the course. The whole point of this visa is to provide applicants with a pathway to skilled employment, not place them directly into that skilled employment.

I believe there needs to be some close scrutiny of the WD1 instructions and assessment procedure to determine why there is such an inconsistency and ambiguity in the decision making process. Have any of you come across these issues in your practice? I invite other practitioners share their experience on this instruction to open up a discussion on this topic and get some varied views and perspectives.

Arunima Dhingra

 

Skilled Migrant Category changes

Two remuneration thresholds are being introduced for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). One will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid.

The automatic selection mark for applicants under the SMC was increased from 140 points to 160 in October last year and the Government has now realigned the points system to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.

More points will be available for skilled work experience and some recognised post graduate qualifications, and points for age will increase for applicants aged 30-39.

Points will no longer be available for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage, for employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas and for close family in New Zealand.

The changes will be implemented on 28 August 2017.

 

How is the SMC changing?

Amendments are being made to the Skilled Migrant Category to improve the skill composition and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand. The changes affect many aspects of the policy, including changes to:
– The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
– The points awarded for qualifications and age.
– Points for some factors will be removed.

When will you know the details of the points allocation?

The Cabinet papers relating to the policy announcements have now been proactively released so the proposed values are accessible.

When will the changes come into effect?

On 28 August 2017.

Are the changes designed to allow fewer people to be granted residence under the SMC?

While there will be an impact on some people in low paid employment, the changes expand the definition of skilled employment to allow some people to obtain residence who have previously been unable to claim points for their employment in New Zealand – people who are not currently considered to be in skilled employment because their job is not in an Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupation will be able to claim points for their job if they are earning $73,299 or more per year.

Will particular types of applicants benefit from the changes?

The changes put more focus on skilled work experience, more recognition of skill levels in the 30-39 age group and high salary levels.

What are the specific changes in each policy area?

Skilled employment
– The same number of points will be awarded for both an offer of skilled employment and current skilled employment in New Zealand.
– Remuneration thresholds are being introduced as an additional means of defining skilled employment.
– Applicants with jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 will only be awarded points for their employment if they are paid at or above NZ$48,859 per year (or NZ$23.49 per hour).
– Applicants with jobs that are not in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupations may be assessed as being in skilled employment if they are paid at or above NZ$73,299 per year (or NZ$35.24 per hour).
– Bonus points will be awarded for remuneration at or above NZ$97,718.00 per year (or NZ$46.98 per hour)
– Remuneration thresholds will be updated annually based on New Zealand income data.

Work experience

  1. 6th August 2007, 09:40 AM#1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Browns Bay, North Shore
    Posts
    863

    ITA Cover Letter Question

    We are about to submit our ITA, cutting it very fine as per usual.
    The letter with the ITA and the check list do not mention a covering letter but I have seen other people mention their letters. If it is not mentioned, do we not need one, or should we do one just to be on the safe side?

    Please help!!

  2. Just on the verge ourselves.

    If you look on the sheets 'Tips for Lodging Skilled Migrant Applications' (if that's the way you're doing it) after 'General Information' it goes 'Order of Application.
    Please submit documents in the following order (top to bottom):

    etc.

    We've just basically said what's in the pack and why we think New Zealand will cease to exist unless they let us go there

    Lots of love
    Gilly and Simonxxx

    Well, a bit more than that but not reams and reams.
  3. 6th August 2007, 09:59 AM#3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Wellington NZ
    Posts
    239

    It's another way to sell yourself - after spending a lot of time and money pulling your documents together - why wouldn't you write one?

    If there's anything not completely standard in your application, a cover letter is the perfect place to point it out and explain it. (For example, I was mising the required employment history documentation because the companies in question no longer exist - but I did supply invoices, tax receipts and personal affidavits as a substitute.) No need to make your caseworker's work more difficult.

  4. I would definitely write a cover letter (I do think our info pack asked us to). But as was pointed out, you should use this opportunity to "blow your own horn."

    I imagined how I would feel getting this package of materials and trying to figure out what things are and what they are proving (even though you've followed a check list).

    So, my covering letter was a "guided tour" of what each section of my application pack contained. That way, if my visa officer had any questions whatsoever about what in the world I was trying to prove in section 9, they could refer to my explanation: "This section contains 3 photos of my oldest daughter when she visited NZ for three months in 2006 as a volunteer for Global Volunteer Network. As you can see, she is delighted to see a baby kiwi in person at the National Zoo " or something like that.

    Or I wrote something more to the point like, "Section 7 contains three letters of reference from my former employers: Mr. Jones, Mrs Smith, and Mr. Roberts."

    My covering letter ended with a paragraph expressing our gratitude for getting this far in the process, our excitement over the possibility of living in NZ, how much research we had done to prepare, and the relief to hand all the info over to them!!

    Hope that helps!
  5. 6th August 2007, 08:04 PM#5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    frm Mombasa, LDN, now in WELLY
    Posts
    40

    Cover Letter Sample

    Here you go - see if this helps.

    xxxxxxxx,
    xxxxxxxxxx,
    xxxxxxxxxx,
    xxxxxxxxxx,
    Cell - xxxxxxxxx.
    Email – xxxxxxxxx



    xxxxxxxxxxx (Immigration officer),
    Immigration New Zealand,
    London Branch,
    New Zealand House,
    80 Haymarket,
    London SW1Y 4TE.

    Date – xxxxxxxxxx

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    RE – ITA – (EOI ref – xxxxxxx) APPLICATION FOR RESIDENCE IN NEW ZEALAND UNDER THE SKILLED MIGRANT CATEGORY

    I am xxxxxx aged xx, resident of xxxxxxxxx, xxxxxx. It is my desire to pursue an application for permanent residence in New Zealand, under the Skilled Migrant Category particularly as an xxxxxx professional. I am certain that my qualifications as a professional would make me a valuable and worthy candidate for migration in New Zealand.

    I have enclosed the required documents in support of the information I had provided on EOI No. xxxxxx and in accordance to the application for residence as outlined in the Application for Residence Guide for the Skilled Migrant Category. These documents are original. Copies of the same have also been provided for your reference apart from copies of Passports.

    Included also are additional documents showing proof of:

    - xxxxxxx (this is if you are waiting for any documentation to come through).

    Should you have other inquiries with my application or there are other documents you require, please feel free to get in touch with me and I shall be more than willing to answer them personally. I sincerely hope that you will give a favourable consideration on my application.

    I have made a list of documents enclosed as per below and if you would kindly acknowledge their receipt on a copy of this covering letter as attached.

    Documents enclosed –

    1. Application form,
    2. Birth Certificate,
    3. Passports (3) (2 expired and 1 current),
    4. Evidence of work experience,
    5. Evidence of Qualifications,
    6. Medical Certificates plus x-ray and
    7. Police Certificates.


    Respectfully Yours,




    xxxxxxxx
    Enlcs.

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