Is New Zealand quietly closing its doorways to immigration?

New Zealand’s image as a welcoming, inclusive country appears to have emerged largely unscathed from the mass shootings in Christchurch last month, however visa statistics reveal that the present authorities is starting to fulfil its election promise of reducing the number of new long-time period 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.

Unlike neighbouring Australia, which merely abolished one of its visas for expert foreign workers a couple of 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 immigration system; the “temporary” closure of some visa categories such as the mum or dad visa, which was well-liked amongst Chinese; new minimum earnings thresholds; stricter money laundering compliance; and more guidelines on property ownership – have made it harder to achieve residency in the country.

By nationality, residency approvals for Chinese, Indian and Filipino applicants are all down about 40 per cent from their peak in late 2015.

Several visa types, such because the entrepreneur visa, are actually described by immigration consultants as almost inconceivable to acquire, while even partnership visas are harder to come back by, with the rejection rate doubling over the past 12 months amid issues about fake relationships.

But this decline in approvals could also be attributed to fewer applications, because the actual number of residency rejections over the past 12 months was at a near historical low.

This has resulted in major shortages of expert workers, which employers and industry groups are now pressuring the federal government to fill, in response to 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 impartial policy professional, stated this is politically risky as it “would reawaken the debate in regards to the comparatively low-expert nature of much of New Zealand immigration”. Changes made to New Zealand’s points-based immigration system in 2017 effectively blocked many low-skilled and decrease-income applicants.

Within the weeks since the Christchurch mosque assaults though, the country has counter-intuitively seen an uptick in the number of individuals making use of for residency, according to Immigration New Zealand.

Much of the curiosity has come from the US, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s handling of the fallout was broadly 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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