Immigration New Zealand: weird selections continue

Please note that I am not a licensed immigration adviser and the following is intended as general immigration commentary, not personal advice.

Big Skilled Migrant Selection for migrants with Work Experience

Between 45,000 and 50,000 visas are granted every year through New Zealand’s Permanent Residency programme. The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) is the route for skilled workers and their families, making up approximately 58% of this programme.

Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for residency through the SMC go into a pool and every fortnight the immigration department pull a number of these out for processing to mee their annual quota of between 25,000 and 27,000 SMC applications approved.

In Move2NZ’s October newsletter I reported on the smallest Skilled Migrant selection made since the programme was introduced in December 2005 with just 496 applications collected for processing.

Falling numbers
From January 2007 through to May 2009 on average 774 SMC applications were selected each fortnight, but numbers have been falling since to an average of just 563 through 2011. This drop has lead to the immigration department failing to meet its quota with just 21,212 applications approved, well short of the 25,000 minimum as can be seen from the graph aside.

With the SMC being such an important part of the Residency programme this has been a major cause of the entire programme to fail in meeting targets – in 2010/11 just 40,737 applications were approved – well short of the minimum 45,000.

SMC applications approved and declinedLooking at applications over the past five years through the SMC stream you can see why this is.

The graph aside shows in blue the applications approved and in red the applications declined. Because of the significant drop in applications accepted through 2010/11 the department was never likely to meet the quota. Numbers have continued to fall since.

Government sources state that this is because of a drop in interest from migrants, however I have seen no evidence to support this and the number of applications sitting for months in the pool has risen to almost record numbers.

Although the Minister has confirmed there is no intent to reduce Residency numbers or change the current practices this process of declining numbers has continued through 2011/12.

Three months in to the year (which started on 1st July) 2011/12 numbers selected are already down 7 percent on last year, and approvals are down 11 percent. Crunching the numbers and using patterns from the past five years I believe I have generated an accurate projection of the total number of EOIs through the Skilled Migrant Category likely to be selected and approved in 2011/12.

This figure of just 19,417 applications likely to be approved is even further away from the 25,000 minimum quota.

October 5th Selection
As if the immigration department heard last newsletter’s questions the selection made on October 5th was unusual. For one thing the number of applications pulled from the pool jumped to 628 – not enough to make much of a difference over the year (unless selections of this size continue) but a rise none the less. We’ll see if this trend continues.

The second and most surprising thing about this selection was where those extra numbers came from. People reading my commentaries on this blog and move2nz will have heard me talking about the seven groups that EOIs fall into (see table below), and applicants with EOIs in group 4 (those without a job offer and claiming 15 points for work experience) will be celebrating.

Nearly 5 times the 2011 average were pulled from the pool in one go. You have to go right back to January 2007 to see anything like this ever happening before.

For so many applications without job offers to be selected gives hope to many applicants who are not able to travel to New Zealand to obtain offers of work, widening New Zealand’s pool of available talent and putting a little equality back into the process. We’ll keep watching to see if this trend continues.

Here are the numbers from the latest selection:

EOIs selected on Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Group Selection criteria Onshore Offshore Total
1 140 points or more with job offer 278 34 312
2 140 points or more without job offer 6 61 67
3 100 – 135 points with job offer 74 6 80
4 100 – 135 points with 15 points for work experience 2 167 169
5 100 – 135 points with 10 points for work experience 0 0 0
6 100 – 135 points with 10 points for qualification 0 0 0
7 100 – 135 points without bonus points 0 0 0
Total EOIs with job offers 352 40 392
Total EOIs without job offers 8 228 236
Total EOIs 360 268 628

More reports to come on what is becoming a completely unpredictable immigration system.

Mike Bell
site architect,


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