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Increases to retirement age: impact on residence eligibility

Increases to retirement age: impact on residence eligibility

The New Zealand Government announced on 6 March 2017 the intention to begin progressively raising the age of superannuation in 20 years’ time (from 1 July 2037) from 65 to 67.  Increased life expectancy, longer lasting health and sustainability of the superannuation system were cited as reasons for this policy.

Importantly however, on the subject of residents, the Government has also advised that in order to be able to claim superannuation benefits in the future residents will be expected to have been resident in New Zealand for 20 years prior, rather then the current requirement of 10 years.

This is a clear warning signal for all prospective migrants that an adjustment to the maximum age for eligibility under the Skilled Migrant Category (and other employment based work to residence policies) is coming.  It would not be fair or appropriate to have a group of residents contributing to a New Zealand superannuation scheme and not being able to receive that benefit when they reach retirement age.  

The current maximum age for securing residence under the SMC is 55, meaning that currently, by the time successful applicants retire at 65, these individuals are eligible for their superannuation. Therefore, with a 20 year adjustment to eligibility, the maximum age to secure residence under the SMC and work to residency policies will be reduced to 45 (like Australia).

If you are or will in the short to medium term be entering the age bracket of 45+ (but less than 56), you may wish to look at securing residence sooner rather than later.  There has been no clear signal as to when this inevitable policy change will be made, but there is a current review of the SMC underway. 

Essential Skills in Demand Lists Reviewed 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has reviewed and made changes to the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) and the Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL).

The annual review has seen particular skills added, removed or moved between the lists, depending on local labour market needs and the need to compete internationally for skilled workers.

Applicants for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) should pay close attention to the LTSSL updates, which will apply to Expressions of Interest (EOI) already made. For those already in the SMC Pool, this will involve checking that they remain eligible for the points claimed in their EOI. Only those already selected from the Pool or holding an Invitation to Apply (ITA) prior to 27 February 2017, will be unaffected by the updates.

The following occupations have been removed from the LTSSL:

·         Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (note - moved to the ISSL list below)
·         Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
·         Registered Nurse (Medical)
·         Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
·         Ship's Engineer
·         Ship's Master
·         Ship's Officer

The occupations of Registered Nurse (Mental Health) and Upholsterer have been removed from the ISSL, although the following occupations have been added:

·         Bricklayer for Auckland/Upper North Island only
·         Cabler (Data and Telecommunications) for all regions
·         Composite Technician for all regions
·         Floor Finisher for Auckland/Upper North Island and Waikato/Bay of Plenty only
·         Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
·         Stonemason for Auckland/Upper North Island only
·         Telecommunications Cable Jointer for all regions
·         Telecommunications Technician (c)

Please note that the removal of occupations from these lists does not necessarily mean you may no longer to qualify for a work visa or residency visa based on that occupation.  Similarly, an occupation on this list does not automatically guarantee that a work or residency visa will be issued.

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