It's just a thought...
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Posted by Iain on Aug. 20, 2021, 9:50 a.m. in Expression of Interest
Living in the information age has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand we all have access to a lot of information instantaneously. On the other hand for those purveyors of information the immediacy can trip them up.
Earlier this week the immigration department in New Zealand posted a new page on their website "points calculator" which is sometimes used by people to try and work out how many points they might score under the skilled migrant category.
It wasn't up for long and was very quickly taken down when someone inside the department realised they’d accidentally gone live with something that they clearly should not have. Unfortunately for them some bright spark in the public arena took a screenshot and within the blink of an eye it was posted all over Facebook. Cat out of bag on imminent and significant changes to EOI selection criteria?
It offered an insight into the government’s possible thinking about what to do with the 10,000 Expressions of Interest (EOIs) sitting in the skilled migrant pool and may well be a glimpse into what is just around the corner for the 22,000 people affected by the suspension of pool selections in March 2020.
Two things jumped out at us.
Bonus points would increase for those people in New Zealand with an offer of skilled employment or a current job in an occupation on the long-term skills shortage list. Points for this criteria would increase from the current 10 to 30.
A new criteria of awarding 20 bonus points for those applicants claiming points for a job offer (or current employment) in New Zealand requiring statutory registration. Today they get nothing. These are teachers, nurses, Doctors, Electricians. Physios, Vets and so on.
What is interesting about this is these are two of the three criteria that have got people who have already been invited to apply for residency out of the two plus year processing queue and into the priority processing queue, shaving around 18 months off the nightmare that is securing residency at the moment.
The one criteria that was missing was granting additional bonus points for people earning twice the median salary i.e. the criteria of "high salary” which is currently worth 20 points. If this was a sneak peek at the new policy it would make sense for the government to reward those at that salary level because they too are given priority processing today. There was nothing accidentally released that might suggest that however.
This is not particularly good news for people who might not be able to claim those additional bonus points unless there is some plan to reward them for their patience. It seems obvious to me the reason the government would do this is because they want to increase the pass mark from the 160 that we have in place today. Anyone on 160 today that's going to be given another 20 or 30 or more bonus points I suspect is going to be able to keep their head above selection water and this would tend to point to a new revised pass mark of perhaps 180 or 190. At least for a period of time.
I calculated that within 12 to 18 months the immigration department could clear the decks if they adopted my plan. It would be fair and kind and not swamp the Department. That plan would allow whatever new immigration policies might be put in place under the government’s so called "reset" (which appears at least temporarily to have sunk without a trace) time to bed in.
It seems however the government is going to go with something in between at least in the short term so no one should despair.
Nothing suggests those who have filed their residence visa application cannot be expedited given they are in New Zealand. In my view they should be (and maybe they will be). The overwhelming majority are on work visas that would/should have been verified in terms of their qualifications and work history or the work Visa could not have been granted. The "risk to the integrity’ of the immigration system then is extremely low.
I won't be surprised if they do this and expedite all those resident visa applications sitting in that two year backlog.
That still leaves a problem - if the department was to select all ’live’ (10,000 and climbing) EOIs and if they had a prima facie claim to 160 points, inviting them to apply for residence represents a tsunami of work heading INZ’s way. And it would likely add year to the existing two year processing backlog.
The government has to find some way of drip feeding those applications into the residency processing queue.
Putting the pass mark up is one way of achieving that. I could not say with the points that were revealed a few days ago how many people sitting in that pool would be advantaged by it but I'm thinking 30 to 40%. The rest would stay in the pool or be ‘lapsed’ (the nuclear option) which might be legal but which would be cruel and unconscionable.
We should also not preclude the possibility that we will go back to the future and there will be, when selections resume, multiple pass marks whereby an applicant’s total points score was less important than their points profile.
It wasn't too long ago that selection from the pool was based on the following order of priority (from memory, it has been a while):
1. Those claiming 100 points including an offer of skilled employment
2. Those claiming 140 points without an offer of skilled employment
3. Those claiming at least 140 points including 15 for work experience points including work experience in an area of absolute skill shortage
4. Those claiming at least 140 points including 10 for work experience points including work experience in an area of absolute skill shortage
5. Those claiming 140 points including a qualification in an area of absolute skill shortage
6. Everyone else claiming at least 100 points.
If Government could fill its rolling two weekly target from the first group, that was it, no one else was selected. If they couldn’t they selected everyone in the second, and so on. Most people have forgotten this is how things worked for 25 years. It was far better in terms of transparency than a single pass mark has been since 2016.
Of course what was posted by the department earlier this week could mean absolutely nothing but I don't think so. It was too finely crafted.
Coupled with this accidental website edit, two weeks ago the Prime Minister confirmed that announcements were going to be made about resuming EOI selections ‘in short order". The posted page included the date of August 28.
This INZ website posting and the PM’s most recent musings is a telling sign, if not convincing evidence, Government is about to finally move on dealing with the EOIs in the pool and the tens of thousands of people that heeded this Government’s call to be part of its immigration programme.
As far as I am aware they haven’t discussed solutions with anyone in the private sector and are relying on immigration ‘officials’ to tell them what to do. I can safely predict then it will be a cluster something (beginning with ‘f’).
Until next week
Posted by Iain on June 29, 2018, 1:49 p.m. in Australia
My piece last week was about attempting to unravel the truth behind the immigration numbers in both Australia and New Zealand. Neither country was filling its own stated numbers of resident/residence visas which suggests their respective immigration departments do not know what they are doing, demand to migrate has fallen or the numbers of available approvals had been deliberately but unofficially cut.
Yesterday, the Australian government announced it was, from 1 July, pushing up the minimum points to be selected and invited to apply for a Permanent Residence Visa or the Subclass 489 'work to residence' visa from 60 to 65 points.
In some ways I feel like adding to last week's blog, I rest my case.
The Australian Government justified this increase by quoting 'demand' and this is where I get so frustrated. There is no evidence of increasing demand to live in Australia and if there was the country would not have fallen short of its annual quota/target/ceiling of 192,000 in the current immigration year. The Government imposed artificially high pass marks around eight months ago specifically to rein in numbers and to ensure (unless they are inept) their own targets were not met. They did a good job of that.
At the same time they pushed, by design or as an unintended consequence, more skilled migrants to seek the support of one of the eight states and territories which results in a, fixed, not floating, pass mark. In some ways it seems the federal government was perhaps letting the states decide to a greater extent than previously who gets in and who doesn't through their own occupation demand lists.
I think the truth is the Australian Government is trying to be all things to all voters given they are back in an election cycle where immigration will once again be front and centre. Those that are against migration at recent levels will take solace from the numbers of permanent visas being issued falling, while those who see migration as both necessary and desirable will rest easy thinking skilled migrants so needed to fill labour market gaps are still welcome.
How else do you explain a need to increase the points required for entry when at lower pass marks, quotas weren't being filled?
While a 5 point increase doesn't sound like a lot it is going to advantage those with superior English language skills and the more highly qualified. It is going to make identifying the most appropriate occupation for your planned move even more important than ever.
A few people called me out over last week's piece as being overly negative and possibly turning people off emigrating. Some thought that telling the truth is not good marketing, but I see it differently.
For starters, I like to think that when people are making the biggest decision of their lives, assessing their real chances of ascending the visa mountain that migration is and getting a handle on how welcome they might be when they get there, is part of our responsibility as 'honest brokers'.
Further, I despair with the dishonesty of Governments and they deserve to be called out when they lie for political gain.
Rather than put anyone off engaging in the process, I hope that more people will appreciate the value we bring to the process and that in executing a strategy where every point counts, our expertise and support will be appreciated and valued.
Neither New Zealand nor Australia is closing their doors, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it is clear that anti migrant rhetoric is, and for that matter always has, gained votes. I've never seen a politician campaign on the benefits of increasing migration even when the local labour market cannot fill the vacancies strong economic growth demands.
So, the announcement yesterday out of Australia should be seen for what it is, a, political reaction to a country where, perhaps more than most western democracies, more votes can be gained through appearing to 'get tough' on immigration than through defending the benefits of a balanced and controlled policy.
Now, arguably more than ever, if you want to emigrate to one of these countries, you need an Advisor who can cut through the political rhetoric, formulate a strategy and ensure you get what you want.
Tell me what you think.
Posted by Iain on Nov. 24, 2017, 4:27 p.m. in Skilled Migrant Category
Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water after the Skilled Migrant changes earlier this year in both New Zealand and Australia, it seems that you might need to think again.
Both countries allow applicants to file Expressions of Interest and enter their skilled migrant pools – in Australia you need a minimum of 60 points and in New Zealand, 160, (we give more points to qualifications and work experience but the type of person with those scores will be very similar). In both countries the immigration year begins on 1 July.
New Zealand targets 27,000 skilled migrants per year with a variance of 10%. Between the start of the immigration year and 3 November, New Zealand approved and issued around 4,100 resident visas. If you annualise that you’ll see that it will barely reach 50% of the stated target. That is not to tell the whole story however. We had clearly signalled that there would be no pool ‘draws’ for six weeks through to late August as the new system was reset. This saw three draws skipped.
It may be that numbers recover in the months to come but given the difficulties I have written about so often about the disconnect between the visa process and the labour market (employers want work visas but Government won’t give work visas without jobs for the most part), the jury is out on whether New Zealand will reach its self-declared quotas this year.
I see no prospect of pass mark increases.
The question is whether we will see it fall. If so when the politicians will let it as unemployment continues to fall rapidly in NZ. It is now down to 4.6% which effectively means if you want to work there is a job with your name on it.
We are continuing to find that in the significant majority of cases our English speaking and experienced clients are finding jobs in 8-10 weeks. If all migrants are doing the same then I think that there is a chance the pass marks may not need to fall and the next few months will confirm that.
Over in Australia things have taken a bizarre turn in recent times.
The Aussies, never ones for originality, took the NZ skilled migrant system – Expressions of Interest (EOI), a pool, selection and invitation, modified it and I believe are seeing the first signs of it falling apart.
Historically to meet their own skilled migrant quotas (which are not national quotas like NZ where you compete against everyone chasing one of those 27,000 places, but occupation quotas – you compete against those in the same ‘nominated occupation’ as you).
Historically, the Australians needed to select 2000 EOIs each selection period. They have cut that in half since July 1. Inexplicably or with an arrogance that one might suggest is misplaced, they feel no obligation it seems to ever explain what they are doing, nor why. The implications of cuts to the numbers being selected means more people are fighting for fewer places and that pushes up pass marks.
One might speculate they might be doing this to push applicants toward state sponsorship. It would be nice to know.
In Australia, each State or territory has its own ‘in demand’ occupation lists so there is the possibility the Federal Government is in effect abandoning their own national occupation targets and devolving the decision on which skilled migrants get into Australia to the various States. If they are it makes some sense. I’ve never understood how some bureaucrat in Canberra can possibly know how many Primary School Teachers, Electrical Engineers or Software Developers the economy needs over the next year.
State sponsorship has the advantage of creating greater certainty for our clients as the pass mark for those with state sponsorship is fixed at 60.
Further, the Australian Government recently decided, again without explanation, not to do a pool draw. This has huge implications on many levels. We have at least one client in the pool (after racing the clock to get him to that point following a Herculean effort by our team in Melbourne) who turns 40 any day now. At that point, while he will still secure a Permanent Resident Visa, it won’t be the ‘live wherever you wish’ visa, but a State Sponsorship visa which requires him to have an ‘intention’ to settle, or at least spend two years in that state. He doesn’t have to live there, the law on that is clear, but he is expected to ‘give it a go’ (whatever that means).
If the Australian Government does not offer greater certainty to applicants they’ll lose people they say they need as more and more choose countries where a plan offers greater certainty.
We also suspect that Australia is suffering a flood of fraudulent or at least mischievous EOIs. Whereas in NZ you pay to file an EOI, in Australia you don’t. I have always thought this invited frivolous applications. When there is no skin in the game there is nothing stopping people filling as many EOIs as they like.
If they claim the pass mark they must be selected. Equally stupidly, unlike NZ, being selected from the pool leads to an automatic and guaranteed Invitation to Apply for residence. We believe that this is the reason that the pass mark for Accountants for example shot up to 85 points despite the annual quota of places being doubled this immigration year. The pass mark at the end of the previous immigration year was 70-75. When you double the supply of places unless there is an unprecedented increase in demand (which there has not been) the pass mark should have fallen, not gone up. That strongly suggests people are filing frivolous applications. And why not? It’s free!
I hope the Aussies learn from NZ some of the lessons of running a pool system. Charge to get into it. Don’t automatically invite everyone that you select. Carry out credibility assessments. Invite them when things look credible. They’d cut down on the fraudulent and plain stupid applications if people had to pay the $500 odd that you pay to file an EOI in NZ and while credibility checks in NZ still result in large numbers of applicants being declined, our system isn’t broken.
Australia’s is. While they don’t tend to take advice off Kiwis they might want to do so on this occasion.
If they don’t, skilled migrants will continue to look elsewhere when Australia’s slowly falling unemployment rates and an improving job market for skills suggests they need these skills sets.
But hey, they’re Aussies, and since when have you been able to tell an Aussie they might not be doing something right?
Until next week...
Posted by Iain on May 13, 2017, 11:57 a.m. in Government
A week after receiving the new points that attach to the various skilled migrant criteria in August 2017 (and both modelling and testing in the field on over 150 consultations so far in South Africa and SE Asia this past week), it is very interesting who wins and who loses from these changes.
Clearly, owing to the new salary thresholds attaching to skilled job offers, those with entry level jobs (international graduates studying in NZ by and large) are clear losers unless the role they secure is highly skilled (think many Engineering, IT, Technical and Trades roles).
Those with more entry level and ‘white collar’ or hospitality/restaurant/tourism jobs will lose owing salaries for those sorts of occupations coming in under the new threshold of $48,800. I’m thinking Chefs, Bar staff, banking, insurance, marketing, sales, Secretaries/PAs and many of the roles in what is known as Part C of Appendix 6 (list of occupations deemed to be skilled) in the rule book.
What has been very interesting to me is how many people I am meeting who will qualify after August 14 who do not qualify today.
With the pass mark at 160 most people today require qualifications – trade, technical or academic representing 2-4 years of study.
However, come August 14, even at 160 points, many people with no (or low level) qualifications, will qualify but will usually require a job offer outside of Auckland.
Anyone aged between, say 30 and 45 years old that has ten years of skilled work experience and a skilled job outside of Auckland now scores at least 160 points. I have seen many people in this situation this week.
That leads me to ponder something I read last week in the paper Immigration Department officials sent to the Government in which they said they believe that these points ‘spreads’ would deliver the government their target of 27,000. I was sceptical of that and to some extent I still am given the sheer numbers of international graduates that have been swamping the SMC pool in recent years, who are now going to struggle to qualify but there might be something to it.
That has led me to conclude the pressure on Government to drop the pass mark to achieve its targets might not be as great as it was nor the need to do so in the short term so great.
That reinforces my belief that there will be no pass mark fall before the election in September – the Government won’t wish to be accused of not going tough on immigration (even though they really haven’t).
As mentioned in previous blogs the media swallowed the ‘toughening and cutting’ line hook, line and sinker even though Government hasn’t (and has no intention of) cutting a single visa from the NZ Residence programme.
And what does all of this tell you?
International graduates from NZ institutions were a problem that needed to be dealt with. They were the ‘problem’ for the Government and the new points and salary thresholds has eliminated the problem.
What we will see over the next few months is a return to the historic profile of skilled migrant NZ traditionally sought – those aged 30-45 won’t need qualifications to get in.
If you have any questions about your eligibility -use theis link to order an assessment of your options: http://www.immagine-immigration.com/assessments/full-assessment/
Until next week...
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