New objectives for the New Zealand Residence Programme

From 1 January 2020, the Government will introduce 2 new objectives to the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP).

The new objectives are to:

  • maximise the contribution of the NZRP to the economic and social wellbeing of New Zealand and New Zealanders by:
    • attracting skilled workers and business migrants
    • reunifying the families of New Zealand residents and citizens, and
    • meeting international and humanitarian commitments.
  • manage the overall residence numbers through controlling each component of the programme.

The new NZRP objectives better reflect the current Government’s vision and priorities for the immigration system and how migrants will contribute to New Zealand’s economy and society.

To support the new objectives, the Government will replace the NZRP ‘Planning Range’, which sets the upper and lower number for residence visa approvals, with a more targeted approach that focuses on the management of specific residence visa types.

A transitional 18-month Planning Range of 50,000 to 60,000 residence approvals will be in place from 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2019. This gives INZ time to make the necessary system changes so we can meet the Government’s new objectives.

This decision will not impact people whose visa applications are already in progress.

A more balanced and strategic approach

Previously, most people who wanted to live in New Zealand applied offshore and moved to New Zealand once their resident visa was approved. However, almost 80% of people currently applying for residence status are already in New Zealand, studying or working on temporary visas.

Before changing the NZRP we looked at how the previous system worked, whether it was fit for purpose, and what needed to change. These changes are the result of careful consideration of how the design of the residence programme would best support the Government’s new objectives.

A Planning Range that sets the upper and lower limits for residence numbers each year does not effectively control residence numbers, as more emphasis is placed on achieving those numbers than prioritising migrants with the skills New Zealand needs.

We can deliver the right mix of skilled migrants by moving away from a Planning Range, to an approach that focuses on strategic management of each of the resident visa category types. The new approach will look at the trends and patterns within each different residence visa type and determine if they support the Government’s priorities. 

Parent Residence Category

The Parent Residence Category remains closed. The Government is currently considering if it will reopen the category and what the eligibility criteria will be. A final decision is expected in the first half of 2019. 

New Zealand Residence Programme: New objectives and approach to managing residence numbers | Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment