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The New Zealand government have announced plans to reduce the number of migrants receiving residency to the country over the next two years. The changes will affect the Skilled Migrant Category and the Parent Category within the New Zealand Residence Programme.

About the Skilled Migrant Category visa

The Skilled Migrant Category is a points based residence policy for anyone who would like to permanently reside in New Zealand. To apply under this visa you must first put in an Expression of Interest (EOI) to Immigration New Zealand. Through this you claim points for factors such as qualifications and work experience. Immigration will then hold a fortnightly draw selecting EOIs who have totalled enough points for the entry requirements.

Changes to the English language requirements

Under the Skilled Migrant Category applicants must have an overall score of 6.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). However immigration officers can consider a variety of alternate pieces of evidence instead. Immigration New Zealand has outlined the following alternatives that can be accepted from October 12th 2016:

•Citizenship of Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the UK, or USA provided the applicant has spent at least five years in work or education in one or more of those countries or Australia or New Zealand.

•A recognized qualification comparable to a NZ level 7 bachelor’s degree either gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the UK or USA as a result of study undertaken for at least two academic years in one or more of these countries.

•A recognised qualification comparable to a New Zealand qualification at level 8 or above gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the UK, USA as a result of study undertaken for at least one academic year in one or more of these countries.

If you do not meet the requirements for the exemptions:

Please be aware that from November 21st 2016 a wider range of tests will be accepted. The additional tests will be:

•Test of English as a foreign Language internet Based test (TOEFL iBT)

•Occupational English Test (OET)

•Cambridge English: First (FCE) and FCE for Schools

•Pearson Test of English: Academic (PTE: Academic)

It is also worth being aware that the new changes will apply to your partner and any dependent children over the age of 16. If they do not meet the minimum requirements for English language you will be required to pre-purchase English tuition.

The Parent Category is temporarily closed

Until further notice Immigration New Zealand will not be making selections from this category. This is because the cap of who can apply under the Parent Category has been reduced. There are already sufficient numbers to fill the cap from existing applicants. Immigration New Zealand state that they for see the Parent Category being closed until after the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

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