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Successful settlement key to immigration programme

17th November 2002 Press Statement

Successful settlement key to immigration programme

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel is rejecting claims made by the Sunday Star-Times that the review of the Skilled/Business stream of the New Zealand Immigration Programme is being conducted in secret.

Lianne Dalziel said there was systematic, on-going consideration of all aspects of the immigration programme, in line with the government’s commitment to evaluate policies against the need to successfully settle immigrants.

The Family Sponsored stream review took 18 months to complete, and was announced in October last year.

“The changes to those policies were very much focussed on successful settlement outcomes, and minimising the risk of recent migrants accessing the emergency benefit system where there is no entitlement to benefits.”

Lianne Dalziel said that any changes as a result of reviews of the Skilled/Business stream would be similarly focussed.

“The Work-to-Residence programme, including the Talent Visa, introduced this year, was a response to the recommendations of the Government-Business Forums, the LEK Report, and the Growth & Innovation Framework, all backed up by research which attributes successful settlement outcomes to employment commensurate with qualifications, skills and experience, and, most importantly, with expectations on arrival in New Zealand."

Lianne Dalziel said that providing a direct link to the labour market in that way, with a two-year work permit followed by residence, was very much a signal of future direction.

“When I announced the Work to Residence programme in April this year, I indicated that we needed to consider how the NZ Immigration Service could shift its focus from passively receiving applications on a broad brush basis to actively recruiting people this country needs and who, from our research, we know will settle well here and be able to make an economic contribution in the field in which they are qualified.

“Throughout I have signalled a need for change from the 1991 policy, which essentially substituted identified skill shortages with criteria assuming employability. We know that the implementation of these assumptions produced the ‘doctors-driving-taxis’ scenario.

"There was a substantial review of the General Skills Category in 1995 by the previous government, and significant changes were made then by weighting points in favour of relevant job offers, requiring registration with professional bodies where this was a condition of professional practice in New Zealand, and introducing the IELTS standard English language test.

“In 1998, when confronted with falling immigration numbers, the then National government de-linked the requirement that the job offer be relevant to qualifications, which created the ‘highly qualified migrant taxi driver’ scenario all over again for those who did not need professional registration to practise in New Zealand.

“In February this year, our government addressed this matter by adjusting the points available for a job offer, so that premium points only applied to job offers relevant to qualifications or experience,” Lianne Dalziel said.

The Minister said that early results from the Longitudinal Immigration Survey New Zealand (LISNZ) show that gradual adjustments to policy over recent years are taking effect, with early information indicating that less than 10% of the current General Skills Category migrant cohort is still looking for work after six months.

Lianne Dalziel said that all aspects of the NZ Immigration Programme would continue to be reviewed, and that she had been entirely open about what had been a systematic, well-considered shift to a focus on settlement outcomes.

“Unfortunately there tend to be surges in applications in response to both announced or even rumoured changes in policy. I must stress that it would be a mistake to assume any particular outcome of the review.”

Lianne Dalziel said the Evaluation of the 1999 Business Immigration Policy had highlighted deficiencies in the policy design, which could be rectified by returning to the principles of the policy, and by ensuring that the loopholes were closed.

“One of the most disappointing aspects of the evaluation was the lack of participation in the survey by recent business migrants. It can be taken as read that participation in the evaluation process will be a prerequisite of future policies,” Lianne Dalziel.

ENDS

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