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New Zealand Residence Programme policy changes

Tuesday, 11 October 2016 - The Government has announced changes to the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) for the next two years.

Parent Category | questions and answers
Skilled Migrant Category | questions and answers

The planning range for the NZRP is being lowered for the two years between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2018. The range will be 85,000 to 95,000 compared with 90,000 to 100,000 for the last two years.

To ensure the number of residence approvals is within the revised planning range the automatic selection mark for migrants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) is being raised from 140 to 160 points.

There are also changes being made to the way SMC applicants can show evidence they meet the English language requirements, which will require more people to undertake formal tests. From November 2016 Immigration New Zealand will be able to accept a wider range of English language tests.

The policy is also being reviewed so that it continues to deliver maximum value for New Zealand.

As well as the changes to the SMC the number of places for the capped family categories is being reduced from 5,500 to 2,000 per year and the Parent Category will be temporarily closed for new applications while it is reviewed. As a result, no Expressions of Interest will be selected from the Parent Category Pool from 12 October 2016.

What is the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP)?

The New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) manages residence approvals and is structured in three streams which reflect the Government’s objectives:

  • Skilled / business - For skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs (and their immediate family members)
  • Family - For family members of New Zealand citizens and residents. Includes both uncapped categories for partners and dependent children, and capped categories for parents, adult children and siblings
  • International / Humanitarian - To meet international and humanitarian commitments (for example, the Pacific Access Category and refugee quota)

The NZRP provides a planning range which allows flexibility to make fewer decisions at times of lower demand, such as when economic activity is depressed, while setting clear parameters for maximum numbers. The planning range for residence visa approvals for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years is between 85,000 and 95,000.

What has been the trend in residence numbers over the last decade?

Over the last 10 years the number of people approved residence has varied between just under 39,000 and just over 52,000 with the number for most years between 40,000 and 45,000 as detailed in the table below. Immigration New Zealand’s resident visa approvals forecast for the current year indicates that approvals were likely to be over 54,000 if no changes were made to policy or processes – an increase of more than 2,000 on last year’s figure.

Application Stream 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16
Business / Skilled 28,140 27,303 28,547 28,473 23,145 20,431 20,007 22,924 24,274 29,719
International / Humanitarian 4,119 4,138 3,504 2,676 2,766 2,802 3,262 3,369 3,642 4,138
Parent Sibling Adult Child Stream 5,409 5,177 5,100 4,708 5,229 5,708 4,401 6,364 4,810 5,739
Uncapped Family Sponsored Stream 9,296 9,459 8,946 9,862 9,597 11,507 11,291 11,351 10,359 12,456
Grand Total 46,964 46,077 46,097 45,719 40,737 40,448 38,961 44,008 43,085 52,052


Minister of Immigration’s media release