New Zealand likely to reduce immigrant intake

The outcomes of last month’s General Election in New Zealand could lead to immigration numbers being slashed sooner rather than later.

The newly announced ruling coalition between two parties that both lobbied for reduced immigration – Labour and New Zealand First – is expected to have a clear impact on the amount of people allowed to enter the country each year.

Yesterday, Prime Minister in-waiting, Jacinda Arden, said that she hopes to reduce current net migration by between 20,000 to 30,000 a year, from its current level of close to 71,000.

And according to former Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere, a decrease in numbers could happen sooner than many people think.

“The minister decides on the new instructions for visas. They could change things overnight,” Delamere, who now runs an immigration consultancy, said. “The law doesn’t need to be changed, what they need to change is the policy. That goes through cabinet, they approve the new immigration instructions and that will set the criteria for visas.

“Once they decide what to do they just write in the new regulations for issuing visas. They could reduce the numbers very easily and very quickly.”

Yet the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI), a leading voice in the country’s immigration sector, believes there is no mandate for the new Labour-led coalition Government’s proposed crackdown on immigration.

“Labour, supported by NZ First, have indicated that they will reduce migration numbers by setting their target around 30,000 per annum. What does this mean? 30,000 students, workers or residents?” questions NZAMI chair June Ranson who notes that the new Government has said it will welcome skilled migrants.

While it is not yet known how the new government will look to reduce net migration, Delamere believes it will likely focus on introducing tighter controls on low-skilled worker and student visas. However, he also said simply raising the points level for skilled migration could just as easily achieve the desired results.

Article published 20th October 2017