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Interim General Skills Category closed

12 November 2003 Media Statement

Interim General Skills Category closed


The Interim General Skills Category (GSC) was closed today (12 November 2003) at noon (NZ time) as the first step towards implementing the new Skilled Migrant Category, Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel announced today.

The new Skilled Migrant Category shifts the focus of skilled migration policy from the passive acceptance of residence applications to the active recruitment of the skills that New Zealand needs. The new category takes effect next month.

“Applications for residence under the Interim GSC have far exceeded forecast numbers and therefore we will be able to continue processing existing applications until the first set of applications is sought under the new category.

“The new category is based on allocating points for a range of factors including qualifications, but for the first time will include bonus points for employment in identified areas of growth or absolute skill shortage, or within identified clusters.

“Under the new Skilled Migrant Category, people will be able to register expressions of interest from mid-December. Their expressions will be pooled and ranked according to points, with those achieving the highest points being invited to apply for residence. This will ensure that industries or regions experiencing skill shortages and growth will be able to have their needs met first.

“This is a win-win for skilled migrants and for New Zealand. For too long the General Skills Category allowed too many skilled migrants people to come here, regardless of whether their skills were needed here. The new category signals the end of the ‘professional-driving-taxi’ legacy of the General Skills Category.

“The new Skilled Migrant Category enhances the points-based system by focussing on work and settlement outcomes”, Lianne Dalziel said.

“People who have been gathering the relevant documents for residence applications should continue to do so as next month, they will be able to lodge their expressions of interest.”

Information about how to apply under the new Skilled Migrant Category is available from the New Zealand Immigration Service today.

More information about the new Skilled Immigration Category is available at www.immigration.govt.nz

INTERIM GENERAL SKILLS CATEGORY CLOSURE
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Wednesday 12 November 2003
What is the IGSC?
On 1 July 2003 I announced that a new Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) would be introduced later this year. I also announced that, from 2 July 2003 until the introduction of the new SMC, the General Skills Category would be replaced by an Interim General Skills Category (IGSC). The IGSC meant that the NZIS would only accept general skills applications from principal applicants with a job offer relevant to their qualifications or work experience. This was to ensure that New Zealand does not miss out on the opportunity to bring in qualified and experienced migrants who had a skilled job to come to.
Why did you close the IGSC before the new SMC is introduced?
I closed the IGSC today because applications have exceeded expectations. I review the need to raise the IGSC points every month and this month I decided that, rather than raising the points and since the IGSC would close shortly anyway, we might as well close it now and focus on getting the SMC up and running next month.
Why was no advance notice given of the closure of the IGSC?
Typically, when any notice is given of a change to any immigration policy rules, the NZIS experiences surges of applications from potential migrants wanting to get applications assessed under the old rules. This puts additional pressure on the immigration programme numbers and substantially delays the impact of policy changes.
Why didn’t you just raise the points like you usually do?
I could have increased the passmark to 32 points, however we already have sufficient applications on hand for this year. Closing the IGSC now and reopening with the new policy next month is by far the fairest and simplest thing to do from everyone’s perspective.

What happens to applications already in the mail when the IGSC closed?
For applications to be accepted under the Interim General Skills Category they must have been received by the NZIS before 12 noon NZ time on 12 November 2003. Applications and fees received after this time will be returned to the applicant or agent with information about the new Skilled Migrant Category.
Can applicants use the medical and x-ray certificates they prepared for the IGSC application, if they are invited to apply under the SMC?
If you are successful in getting an invitation to apply in the early months of the Skilled Migration Category, the NZIS will take into account the expiry dates of medical and x-ray certificates for those who may be affected by this closure.

My GSC application was lapsed after the July 2003 changes, and I received notification of the lapsing in September. That letter said I had three months to lodge a new application using previously submitted certificates, can I still lodge a new application?
No, not under the IGSC as this category has been closed. However the certificates can be used for the first month of the SMC.
How many applications has NZIS got on hand?
The NZIS has about 9000 IGSC applications on hand.
If all of the on hand applications are approved, won’t they fill the Skilled/Business stream allocation until well into the 2004/05 year?
Not necessarily. Being on hand doesn’t mean that every application will be approved. And only those with a genuine relevant job offer can be approved under the IGSC arrangements that I introduced in July. In July I also introduced the ability to prioritise approvals, so approvals are being managed within the allocations established in the New Zealand Immigration Programme. That’s 27,000 people in the Skilled/Business stream for the NZ Immigration Programme for 2003/04.
What information is available about the SMC?
NZIS has produced an information pamphlet on the new Skilled Migrant Category. It is available on the NZIS website at www.immigration.govt.nz or on request from NZIS. The pamphlet contains information about the criteria you must meet before you can submit an Expression of Interest, the new points framework and an overview of the new application process.
Are any of the other Skilled/Business Categories affected by the closure of IGSC?
No. The following Skilled/Business Stream categories are not affected:
o Talent Accredited Employers Residence Policy
o Talent Arts, Culture and Sports Residence Policy
o Priority Occupations List Residence Policy
o Business Investor Policy
o Entrepreneur Policy
o Employees of Relocating Business Policy
IS NZIS Accepting applications under the SMC now?
No. The SMC will open in mid-December. People interested in the new policy will be able to complete and submit an Expression of Interest from that time.
Will it cost more to apply for residence under the new SMC?
Fees will be announced closer to the opening of the SMC.
Will the same English language requirements apply under the SMC?
Yes and the details of requirements are in the information pamphlet on SMC.
When will the Business Migrant categories review be completed?
The Investor Category component within of the Skilled/Business stream has also been the subject of a review. Work is still underway.

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