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New Zealand’s Approach to Migration

New Zealand is a popular place to visit, study, work, and live so it has a well-established migration policy and infrastructure in place. Migration is a complex topic, however, so it can be difficult for anyone not involved in it on a day to day basis to get a firm understanding of the country’s policy and how the system works. While there is not enough scope in this article to go into details, it will give you an overview of New Zealand’s approach to migration.

The general policy the country adopts involves attracting people to New Zealand who have the skills required to meet the needs of New Zealand businesses. This ranges from highly skilled workers, such as doctors and engineers, through to low-skilled workers such as farm labourers. The country requires migrants to come under this overall policy to ensure the economy remains strong and continues growing.

As a result, people migrate to New Zealand from all over the world. That said, the largest numbers of migrants currently coming to the country are from China, India, the Philippines, the UK, and South Africa.

These migrants contribute to New Zealand financially and culturally and have a good track record of integrating with society. Repeated reports and studies also find that migrants quickly feel at home in New Zealand.

Points Based System

In practical terms, New Zealand operates a points-based immigration system. This means the system is not based on race or country of origin, although there are special rules in place for Australian citizens and citizens of some nearby islands. In general, however, decisions are taken by the immigration authorities who analyse the points you get on your application. This includes the skills you have and your personal qualities. An example of the latter is whether you have ever been convicted of a crime.

The immigration authorities also look at the potential contribution you will make to the economy and society in general. This particularly applies to special categories of visa such as entrepreneur or investor visas.

Immigration Advice

As well as having comprehensive immigration laws, New Zealand also has strict rules in place which govern who is allowed to give you immigration advice. While there are some exceptions, the only people who can give you advice on immigrating to New Zealand are licensed immigration advisers. The exceptions to this include practicing New Zealand lawyers, foreign diplomats, and Citizens Advice Bureau volunteers.

Licensed immigration advisers must follow a strict code of conduct that includes being honest and charging reasonable fees.

Political Debate

As in all countries, particularly those that have more people arriving than leaving, there is regular debate in New Zealand about immigration policy. In recent months, this debate has become more prominent. This is because of record high net migration figures as well as fears over the capacity of cities like Auckland to cope with high numbers of new residents.

These public concerns have translated into adjustments of government policy but the over-riding principle remains the same – New Zealand welcomes people into the country who bring skills the country needs.

In other words, while there is occasional tinkering with the specifics of the points-based system, New Zealand needs and welcomes immigrants. In addition, the system is well-structured system and there are strong measures in place to protect migrants from exploitation.