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Management of Pacific quotas to be improved

12 August 2004

Management of Pacific quotas to be improved

Immigration Minister Paul Swain today announced a series of measures the New Zealand Immigration Service would be taking to enable Pacific Island quotas to be filled.

These initiatives are necessary because places being taken up under the Samoan and Pacific quotas have been falling well short of what is available. Each year there are 1100 places under the Samoan quota and 650 under the Pacific Access Category (PAC), which includes Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

People applying under the quota need to have a job offer in New Zealand and meet minimum health, English language and character requirements.

The Samoan quota has been running for more than 30 years and reflects the Treaty of Friendship signed by the two countries in 1962. The PAC quota was set up in 2001.

Mr Swain said the improvements to the quota system would not only benefit Pacific nations but would also help New Zealand at a time of low unemployment.

The changes are: Speeding up verification of job offers to, in most cases, within 14 days of receipt of required information from prospective employers, Quota places are now released throughout the year rather than during just one month, Applications are now accepted from Pacific Islands citizens already lawfully in New Zealand.

These people now do not need to return to their home countries to submit applications for residence under the quota, Both the income of the principal applicant and the income of the spouse/partner are counted in meeting the minimum income requirement, The minimum income level requirement has been lowered from NZ$31,566 to $25,585 per annum, The creation of relationship managers to focus on identifying and establishing employment opportunities for prospective quota migrants, Further investigation will be made into the development of private sector partnerships, to assist suitable migrants into employment, The remaining places from the unfilled 2002/03 and 2003/04 quotas will be retained and made available over the course of the next three quota years, commencing with the 2004/05 year, Settlement information for Samoan migrants will be provided, and will be more appropriately targeted to Samoan migrants’ needs. This is already provided to migrants under PAC.

If there are unfilled places in the quotas at the end of each financial quarter, Pacific Island citizens who are lawfully in New Zealand and have a job offer may apply for, and may be granted, residence under the quota. Prime Minister Helen Clark briefed all the countries to which these changes apply during the Pacific Island Forum in Apia last weekend, and she said that all welcomed the steps being taken to enable the quotas to be filled.

ENDS


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