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Have your say: 'Immigration, productivity and well-being'

08 July 2021

While the immigration industry is abuzz with the overhaul of numerous immigration policies, did you know that there is a bigger reset underway? The New Zealand Productivity Commission, an independent Crown entity, is carrying out an in-depth inquiry report on 'Immigration, productivity and well-being'. Read the paper here

This paper was only just released in June 2021 and the Productivity Commission is inviting submissions from anyone and everyone that may be interested. The deadline for submissions is 24 December 2021 but this feedback is encouraged sooner; as a draft report from this consultation process will be released in October 2021. A final report thereafter will be presented to the government in April 2022. The focus of this paper is to collect submissions from the public on whether New Zealand's immigration system is fit for the future.

My first reaction when I saw this paper was that of confusion and worry. If the report only comes out in April next year, it may be sensible to assume that there are still many more rounds of changes expected in the immigration landscape over the next few years. 

This further means that the looming changes - mandatory employer accreditation, Skilled Migrant Category overhaul and changes to temporary work visas - are not the only ones. This may very well just be the tip of the iceberg. 

The word 'change' is going to become a constant in our industry, so anyone working in this space needs to buckle up and become not just resilient to change but also pro-change. It's the only way to survive and thrive. My understanding before I stumbled upon this paper was that we were already in the middle of a 'reset' and would see clarity around policies coming out shortly. But now that I am reading this, I am not holding my breath. While evolution is not a bad thing, however, we need to understand prolonged uncertainty caused by changes in this industry can adversely impact New Zealand's brand. 

The paper states that whilst MBIE is managing the changes we are already aware of, the Commission's s job is to take a longer 10−30 year view and to think about what New Zealand’s immigration system should be trying to achieve, and how it can best do that.  The Commission is independent from the Government and will take a system-wide view. This means that issues outside the details of visa categories (eg, housing, infrastructure, population) will also be considered in their proposals. The review covers various topics that impact immigration settings for NZ -  The Treaty of Waitangi and Te Ao Māori and how these concepts could be included into developing our long term immigration policies; how immigration can contribute to NZ's productivity growth and what the objectives of the immigration policy should be; what successful settlement of migrants looks like; obligations on employers; review of skills shortages, investors and entrepreneurs, students, working holidays visas etc.

This review will not be covering the following categories - policy for refugees; day-to-day operational immigration decisions and the funding of immigration agencies;  decisions taken by the Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the rights of Realm citizens (Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans) and Australians to freely enter New Zealand; and tourism, and other forms of international travel that do not involve rights to work, settle and invest in New Zealand.

So if you are a key member of an association that gets impacted by immigration or a business that employs migrant workers or someone who may be interested in contributing, I urge you to participate in this review that will shape the future of immigration for Aotearoa. Submissions are open now and can be made here

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