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Enhancements to key immigration policy

27 October 2004

Enhancements to key immigration policy

Immigration Minister Paul Swain today announced enhancements to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC).

Paul Swain said the changes make the SMC more responsive and flexible to labour market needs at a time when labour and skills shortages are increasing.

The enhancements, which come into effect on 1 December, are:

Increasing the level of points allocated to skilled employment, qualifications and work experience in areas of absolute skill shortage

Expanding and clarifying the definition of skilled employment to enable a broader skill mix to qualify for residence

Clarifying the ability to grant permanent residence upfront where an applicant has high potential to contribute and settle (rather than in “exceptional circumstances”)

Recognising a broader range of qualifications where they meet industry needs

Clarifying the definition of contract employment Including points for having close family support in New Zealand.

In order to make sure the enhancements are effective, an onshore and offshore recruitment campaign is to be boosted and a major staff training programme is underway.

"Our first priority will always be to get New Zealanders into work. But at 4 per cent unemployment, skills and labour shortages are emerging. Quality migrants can help fill those gaps.

“The SMC shifts New Zealand’s skilled immigration policy from the passive acceptance of residence applications to one that actively recruits the skilled migrants that New Zealand needs.

“It is starting to deliver results but the government recognises that more flexibility is needed," Paul Swain said.

For further details on the enhancements visit www.beehive.govt.nz/swain or from tomorrow, www.immigration.govt.nz.

ENDS

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