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New Government in NZ = Immigration changes...

19 October 2023

On 14 Oct 2023, the people of New Zealand made their voices heard and voted for change. A new government has been given the mandate. The sphere of immigration will undoubtedly be a primary focus area for it. 

We will need to brace ourselves for more shake-ups in immigration settings and prepare for a shift in gears. 

The question is, are these promised immigration changes for the better? Do they effectively address gaps in the current framework? Well, the quality of changes depends on their implementation, so we will need to wait and see. 

Let's take a closer look at some key immigration-focused policies that the newly elected parties are planning to enact. 


Some of their key policies include: 

  • Introduction of a Parent Visa Boost for parents and grandparents of migrants. This multiple-entry visa will be valid for five years, with the possibility of a renewal for another five years. 
  • The party promises to boost international education. They aim to introduce faster visa processing for those who are willing to pay an increased fee and to increase weekly work hours from 20 to 24. International students will gain more rights in terms of in-study work.  
  • They also plan to diversify the selection of countries from where international students come to NZ. 
  • The party plans to boost tourism, and this includes providing businesses better access to workers with more flexible working holiday visas and faster visa processing. 
  • They plan to restore the 90-day employment trial periods for all businesses. The previous government had recently removed the 90-day trial requirement for employers hiring migrants, which comes into effect on 29 October 2023. 
  • An International Graduates Visa will be offered to individuals who have attained a bachelor's degree or higher from any of the top 100 universities in the world in the last five years. 
  • A Global Growth Tech Visa will be introduced for individuals possessing exceptionally specialised skills who have worked at a leading global tech corporation. 
  • A Digital Nomad Visa is to be offered to those working remotely for an overseas-based company. Candidates will have the option to apply for a work or residence visa later if they decide to stay. 

In addition to the above, National is also looking at disestablishing the Te Pūkenga polytechnic mega-merger and restoring local decision-making. 

Full details of National's immigration policy can be found here and their 100-day plan here.


Some of their key policies include: 

  • Unite Visa will be introduced, which would allow parents to visit their children or grandchildren for up to five years at a time and will be renewable annually. 
  • All major immigration policy decisions will be subject to a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA). 
  • They will remove the cap on parent residence category and introduce a bespoke public health insurance scheme with mandatory contributions for Parent Resident Visa holders. 
  • They propose replacing the current system of temporary work visas with demand-based pricing and making further changes to the Skilled Migrant Category to offer predictable pathways for migrants of all skill levels and occupations. 
  • They aim to tackle issues that contribute to Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) slow processing times.  

ACT's complete immigration policy document can be found here

NZ First  

Some of their key policies include: 

  • Sourcing 2,000 doctors and for this, they will amend the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 to fast-track New Zealand Medical Council registered doctors into General Practice. 
  • Enable Residence within 30 days of arrival and Permanent Residence within two years for in-demand clinical staff trained and registered in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Ireland, the US, and the UK, with a commitment to live and work in New Zealand for the next eight years.  
  • Establish a New Zealand Border Protection Force combining functions of the New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Customs Service, and Immigration New Zealand. 
  • Develop a Population Strategy, including focusing immigration on addressing skill shortages, economic opportunities, and humanitarian responsibilities. The Strategy will interface with economic development, infrastructure, housing, and education.  
  • Removal of the Accredited Employer Worker Visa and replace it with a Skills Shortage Visa and Labour Shortage Visa. 
  • Maintain the parent category visa cap at 1000 and ensure that sponsors can adequately support and fund their family during and after migration. 
  • Introduce a ‘Rural Visa Scheme’ for communities of less than 100,000 residents. Migrants will need to stay in their specified place of settlement until, and two years after, they have secured permanent residency. 
  • Restore the 90 day trial period

New Zealand First’s complete immigration policy document can be found here.  

I have repeatedly emphasized that getting the immigration settings right for NZ is a delicate balance that is often quite hard to strike. We invite the new government to engage and consult with associations such as NZAMI that represent the immigration industry.

Having recently travelled overseas for work and observed how Brand NZ is perceived, I can confidently affirm that our country requires robustness in our immigration settings, a short-term focus to achieve long-term objectives, and a stable, business-as-usual state. 

Let's hope that the uplift in mood that businesses seem to have post elections, continues and that we see sensible, thought-through, sustainable immigration policies roll out...

Arunima Dhingra

Director & Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser #200900407

Chairperson, NZ Association of Migration and Investment (NZAMI)

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