30 Aug 2017

Know your policy: Immigration

From Election17 - Policy Comparisons, 10:35 am on 30 August 2017

Net immigration is at an all-time high, with claims the influx of new residents and visa holders are putting pressure on infrastructure, particularly housing. So, what will the parties do?

Immigration to New Zealand.

Photo: RNZ


  • Introduce remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder, which would align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for Skilled Migrant Category applicants
  • Introduce a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled and lower-paid Essential Skills visa holders
  • Immigrants would have to leave New Zealand for at least 12 months before applying for another work visa
  • Align the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand with the new skill levels
  • Better manage which occupations have a seasonal nature and ensure that the length of the visa aligns with peak labour demand


  • Cut the number of new immigrants by up to 30,000 a year by tightening rules around student and work visas
  • Introduce an Exceptional Skills Visa for highly skilled or talented people
  • Introduce a KiwiBuild Visa for residential construction firms who train a local when they hire a worker from overseas
  • Strengthen the labour market test for work visas so they are not being used for jobs New Zealanders can do
  • Make skills shortage lists more regional so migrants coming in under them can only live and work in areas where there is a genuine skills shortage. 
  • Require courses for international students to be high-quality and remove the ability to work while studying in low-level courses, except where the work is approved as part of their study
  • Remove the ability to get a work visa without a job for those who have completed study below university level
  • Increase the refugee quota to 1500

Green Party

    Protesters gather at Parliament for the Government to increase the refugee quota.

    Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

  • Increase the refugee quota and increase the funding and support of their resettlement
  • Change the system for refugee family reunification from being a lottery and make the reunification of immigrant families easier
  • Ensure immigration legislation makes provision for people displaced by climate change
  • Give priority in the skilled migrant category to skills needed for a sustainable society and economy
  • Make the rules stricter for visa applications in the investor category 
  • Provide new immigrants in all categories with information about New Zealand culture and require all new voluntary migrants granted provisional residency status to demonstrate an awareness of New Zealand's laws and social norms
  • Regularly review the setting of immigration levels based on net population change

New Zealand First

  • Ensure that there is effective labour market testing to ensure New Zealanders have first call on New Zealand jobs
  • Ensure family reunion members are strictly controlled and capped 
  • Introduce a cap on the number of older immigrants 
  • Introduce measures to stop the exploitation of migrant workers 
  • Develop strategies to encourage the regional dispersion of immigration to places other than Auckland
  • Remove the ability to purchase a pre-paid English lesson voucher to bypass the minimum English entry requirements


  • Honour New Zealand's heritage as a nation of immigrants, while trimming back overly generous entitlements such as pensions after only 10 years' residency
  • Require new citizens to sign up to the country's values of free speech, free assembly, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, property rights and the rule of law as non-negotiable conditions
  • Pursue a free trade and free movement area between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom

Māori Party

Hundreds attended a meeting at the University of Auckland on 1 April 2016 prompted by recent violent attacks on international students.

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

  • Amend the Immigration Act to include tikanga Māori and incorporate a pledge to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the Oath of Citizenship
  • Reintroduce the parent category and the family reunion category to ensure whānau are not disconnected by borders
  • Prioritise the introduction of a climate change refugee category
  • Establish a partial amnesty for persons whose stay in Aotearoa has become unlawful
  • All new citizens would have to complete a course in the history of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as part of receiving citizenship
  • Introduce a compulsory Te Tiriti o Waitangi educational programme for all international students
  • Introduce a hardship pension that exempts eligible Pasifika Peoples aged 65+ who gain citizenship from the standard five-year waiting period

United Future

  • Establish a 10-year population strategy 
  • Introduce an employment sponsor fast-track to residency
  • Ensure that immigrants with skills are matched with the industries that need them
  • Strengthen family reunification by fast-tracking migrants who have immediate family in New Zealand
  • Provide additional migrant support 


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