Is New Zealand quietly closing its doors to immigration?

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New Zealand’s image as a welcoming, inclusive country seems to have emerged largely unscathed from the mass shootings in Christchurch last month, but visa statistics reveal that the present government is beginning to fulfil its election promise of reducing the number of new long-term migrants.

The official target for residency approvals was set at forty five,000 just below two years ago, but figures from Immigration New Zealand show that such approvals have declined by about 30 per cent since 2016.

Not like neighbouring Australia, which simply abolished one among its visas for expert international workers a few yr ago to tighten immigration controls, Wellington has moved more stealthily.

Since 2016, a string of small regulatory tweaks – including a tightening of the factors-based mostly immigration system; the “short-term” closure of some visa categories such because the mum or dad visa, which was common among Chinese; new minimum income thresholds; stricter cash laundering compliance; and more rules on property ownership – have made it harder to gain residency in the country.

By nationality, residency approvals for Chinese, Indian and Filipino applicants are all down about forty per cent from their peak in late 2015.

Several visa types, such because the entrepreneur visa, are now described by immigration consultants as nearly unattainable to obtain, while even partnership visas are harder to return by, with the rejection rate doubling over the past year amid issues about fake relationships.

However this decline in approvals is also attributed to fewer applications, as the precise number of residency rejections over the past yr was at a close to historical low.

This has resulted in main shortages of expert workers, which employers and trade groups at the moment are pressuring the federal government to fill, in line with Paul Spoonley, a professor of sociology at Massey University who specialises in immigration and diversity.

Reversing the pattern would require Wellington to loosen its immigration rules, however. Michael Reddell, a former economist at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and independent policy skilled, said this is politically risky because it “would reawaken the debate about the relatively low-skilled nature of a lot of New Zealand immigration”. Modifications made to New Zealand’s factors-based immigration system in 2017 effectively blocked many low-skilled and lower-earnings applicants.

Within the weeks since the Christchurch mosque assaults though, the country has counter-intuitively seen an uptick in the number of people applying for residency, in response to Immigration New Zealand.

Much of the interest has come from the US, the place Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s handling of the fallout was extensively praised and news of the swift implementation of strict new gun laws was welcomed by the likes of presidential candidate and Democrat, Bernie Sanders.

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