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Immigration Announcement: Fact Sheets

FACT SHEET 1:

The New Zealand Immigration Programme 2003/04

The government remains committed to an active, well-managed and balanced immigration programme.

The NZ Immigration Programme 2003/04 remains unchanged from the 2002/03 Programme, with 45,000 places (with scope for a further 5000 places) allocated as follows:

Skilled/Business Stream 60% 27,000 (+3000)

Family Sponsored Stream 30% 13,500 (+1500)

International/Humanitarian Stream 10% 4,500 (+ 500)

The 45,000 places will be used as an indicative basis for the next three years, committing New Zealand to an active immigration programme.

Migrants are net contributors to New Zealand. A recent report by Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) shows that in the year to June 2002, migrants had a positive net fiscal impact of $1.7 billion. They consumed an estimated $4.1 billion of government expenditure in education and health services, New Zealand Superannuation, Work and Income benefits and student allowances, but contributed an estimated $5.8 billion to government revenue in the form of income tax, GST and excise duties.

The new Skilled Migrant Category, which replaces the General Skills Category (GSC), will increase the net benefit of immigration to New Zealand, by ensuring that there is a strong emphasis on outcomes.

The "invitation to apply' approach of the Skilled Migrant Category will also enable better management of applications under the Skilled/Business stream. At present, anyone who applies for residence under the GSC of the Skilled/Business stream and scores the requisite number of points must be granted residence. The only mechanisms for controlling numbers are a fluctuating pass mark and queuing, which means delays in applications being considered.

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The new Skilled Migrant Category will have a minimum qualifying mark that must be reached before an expression of interest can be registered, and that expression of interest will only be valid for a set period of time before it is lapsed.

This will provide more flexibility than the current system, as well as more certainty for people invited to lodge an application for residence, given that they will not have to wait in a queue for their application to be processed.

FACT SHEET 2:

The "Invitation To Apply' System

The "Invitation to Apply' at a Glance

Register Expression of Interest

Potential migrants will register an expression of interest in applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category. Prerequisites for registration are character, good health, and English language ability. The minimum points required to register an expression of interest will be fixed, and will not fluctuate as the pass mark does under the present system. Points will be allocated on a similar basis to the current General Skills points system, however there will be bonus points - for example, for job offers outside Auckland or for qualifications and experience specific to NZ skill shortages.

Pool of Prospective Migrants

The registered expressions of interest will form a pool, and be ranked according to the points scored. Starting at the top of the list, prospective migrants will be invited to apply for residence at regular intervals in numbers sufficient to meet the annual immigration programme. Registrations will lapse after a set period (probably around three months) if no invitation to apply has been made. There is no right of review where no invitation has been issued.

Invitation to Apply for Residence

Once invited to apply, a prospective migrant may lodge an application for residence which, given the pre-selection process, should have a very high prospect of being approved. At this point a very high level of verification will be undertaken on all documentation and information supplied to support the application. In particular, the validity of qualifications, work experience, IELTS certificates and job offers will be closely scrutinised.

Assessment Of Ability To Settle And Contribute

Once an application for residence has been submitted there will also be an assessment of the applicant's ability to settle and contribute. Some applicants, such as those who have worked or studied in New Zealand, will already have demonstrated settlement potential and will be granted residence. Others will be assessed, and a decision made on whether residence or a two-year work-to-residence permit will be granted.

Right of Review if Declined

Applicants whose application for a residence permit is declined (those applying for residence onshore) will be able to seek a review by the Residence Review Board (RRB, formerly the Residence Appeal Authority). Where applications for a residence visa (offshore applications) are declined, applicants will be able to seek a review by the RRB only if they have a New Zealand-resident family member or a New Zealand employer who supports the review.

False or Misleading Information

Applicants who are declined because they provided false or misleading information or withheld relevant information when seeking an invitation to apply will not be able to have their case reviewed by the RRB. This also applies where false or misleading information is supplied by an agent, whether or not the potential migrant knew the information was not correct.

FACT SHEET 3:

Applications Under the General Skills Category (GSC)

Interim Arrangements for GSC Applications

From 2 July 2003, the NZIS will only accept GSC applications from principal applicants with a job offer relevant to their qualifications or work experience. This ensures New Zealand does not miss out on the opportunity to bring in qualified and experienced migrants who have a skilled job to come to.

Job search visas and permits will not be available to GSC applicants who apply from 2 July, and points will no longer be awarded for "non-relevant" job offers.

Global Prioritisation and Lapsing of Applications

A considerable backlog of GSC applications has developed over the past two years. The large backlog means that if all these applications were processed in date order the new Skilled Migrant Category could not come into effect for two years.

Many of the applications are not of the standard anticipated by the new policy, which means they are unlikely to contribute to New Zealand or settle well here. At the same time, however, there are applications within the backlog that are of a high standard. It has therefore been decided that some applications will be processed and some will need to be lapsed. The legislation introduced on 1 July 2003 provides for this to happen.

All GSC applications made before 20 November 2002 and not decided by the NZIS at the time the Immigration Amendment Act (No 2) comes into effect will be lapsed - except those where, as at 1 July 2003, the principal applicant had:

- claimed points for a relevant offer of employment in New Zealand, or

- claimed 28 or more points, or

- been issued a "Job Search' Visa or Permit, or been invited to apply for one, or

- been determined by the NZIS to meet the requirements for approval in principle.

Lapsing will also not apply where the Residence Appeal Authority has, as at 1 July directed the NZIS to reassess or reconsider an application, or has recommended it for consideration by the Minister of Immigration. The NZIS will refund application fees for lapsed applications.

Global prioritisation for deciding GSC applications will be introduced. This will ensure that residence places are allocated first to applicants with the highest contribution and settlement potential.


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