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Cross-Tasman Simultaneous Immigration Policy Changes

The world is waking up to news that both Australia and New Zealand have made announcements regarding significant policy changes around temporary work visas and their likelihood to progress to Permanent Residency in either country.

Interestingly, the changes are being touted in both countries media as either “Australians First” or “Kiwis First” immigration policy respectively, which has, as expected, caused a wave of panic for many would-be migrants particularly those already in the middle of the process.

While these policy changes are not unexpected for New Zealand (Iain MacLeod, Managing Director of IMMagine Immigration Specialists already covered the topic in his forecast of November last year and again in a review in February this year), they have come as a surprise for Australia. However, as is the case with New Zealand, seemingly with similar political aims.

Iain MacLeod has said that the real reason for these changes “is to deal with the exponential increase of international students seeking residence of New Zealand following completion of their studies here. This has created a ‘tsunami’ of less skilled and younger migrants competing with older and more experienced skilled migrants”.

‘When you have an annual quota, something had to give and it is the ‘lower value’ younger applicants that have paid the price.”

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday initiated far reaching reforms to employer sponsored migration to Australia and also to the occupations available to skilled migration that are non-employer sponsored (GSM visas).

The main changes to Australian policy involve a reduction of the number of occupations (by 200) for state sponsored visas and the creation of 2 streams of Temporary Skill Shortage Visas to replace the existing 457 Visa (Work Visa).

As Myer Lipschitz, Managing Partner of IMMagine based in Melbourne stated in a recent release on the IMMagine website:

“One cannot escape the conclusion that the motivation for these changes are political as opposed to economic. Skills shortages are felt across a wide range of industries and we have low unemployment (currently 5.8 %).

Not only do the changes announced deflate the power of the right wing in Australian politics, but they too act as a panacea to other political problems such as the high cost of housing in Australia and a perception that owning one's own home is unaffordable to Australians (a view held by 53% of Australians).”

While these changes will be (and are being) spun by the Governments of both countries as a tightening and toughening up, the reality is that for the majority of those who would have qualified 3 months ago (as our clients and beyond), obtaining work visas and permanent residency is much the same process.


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