When 100 is not enough

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

ANYBODY taking an exam should be more than happy to get a perfect score – 100 percent.

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For New Zealand though, a score of 100 is just the starting point for a foreign skilled worker seeking to qualify for permanent residency.

Getting 100 points is merely a minimum qualifier to get into the common candidate pool. To be taken out of the pool and avoid candidate-hypothermia, one has to add an additional 60 points to earn an invitation to apply for permanent residency.

The current 160-point threshold to be considered for New Zealand permanent residency must be the sum of an applicant’s points for several criteria: age, education, experience, job offer, previous and completed studies or employment and bonus points for combination of two basic criteria.

Of the four Commonwealth nations—Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK —Canada was the first to institute a points-system selection for immigrants with the Immigration Act of 1978, replaced by the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002.

The common criteria for these countries are age, English proficiency, education/ qualifications, experience, civil status (married or common-law-relationship) bonus points for having studied or worked in the country of intended migration, qualified family relationship or community connections as well as nomination by a province (Canada) or a State/Territory (Australia). Additional points are granted to resident applicants to New Zealand who have worked or lived outside Auckland as well as for qualifications or work experience in areas of absolute skills shortage or future growth area.

New Zealand’s Parliament passed the Immigration Act of 1987—resembling that of Canada—which came into effect in 1991. The 1987 Act ended New Zealand’s preference for migrants from Britain, Europe or Northern America, a selection system based on race instead of admitting migrants based on their skills, personal qualities, and potential contribution to New Zealand economy and society.

While New Zealand was the latecomer, it was the first to use the term “Expression of Interest” under its Skilled Migration category in 2009. Australia followed by setting up SkillSelect on July 1, 2012. Canada, which was a forerunner in setting standards for selection for specific occupations, later announced the Express Entry migrant selection system in January of 2015.

To determine your eligibility – and official points-potential, New Zealand Immigration Service provides a self-assessment tool available here – https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/visa-factsheet/skilled-migrant-category-resident-visa

Migrants out of UK with Brexit
While UK’s points-based migration system was introduced in 2003—modeled on the Australian system—it was only in February 2008 that the Labor government introduced the UK’s first points-based immigration system in five tiers, the most common of which are Tier 2 for “skilled workers” from outside the EEA with a job offer in the UK and Tier 4 for students aged over 16 from outside the EEA who wish to study in the UK. Applicants must have a place at a registered UK educational establishment before they can apply.

Of late, this category has diminished in stature and importance. The Tier 4 category became the lightning rod for the campaign against immigrants leading to Brexit as then Home Secretary (now Prime Minister Theresa May) targeted non-EEA students to be part of the categories to be drastically reduced in number.

Migration figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 41,000 fewer overseas students came to the UK in the 12 months to September—three months after the Brexit vote—compared with the previous year, reflecting a substantial drop in net migration to Britain, which fell by 49,000 to 273,000 last year.

In contrast to the points-based migration of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the UK’s tier-structured selection system was for temporary migration that requires sponsorship by registered employers or registered educational institutions.

To qualify for permanent residency, called “indefinite leave to remain,” a foreign worker or student must have worked lawfully for a minimum of five years. The selection system of Australia, Canada and New Zealand offers immediate eligibility and subsequent admission as permanent residents from overseas or offshore.

60 as magic number for Australia
Australia sets only 60 points to qualify for permanent residency through SkillSelect, essentially either as a “skilled independent migrant” or one who is nominated or sponsored by one of Australia’s states and territories.

Be aware that the low points total required is not an assurance of an easier way to qualify. The points assigned to criteria—and the prescribed manner to earn the points—is far from simple.

Basic requirements before submitting a SkillSelect application is evidence of English language proficiency (IELTS) and a positive or suitable assessment from the authorized assessing organization for specific occupations. The age limit to earn points is 44. Applicants in the age range (45-49) may still apply but would have to increase their points in the other criteria to make boost their scores.

Canada has recently revised the points-allocation for residency candidates through Express Entry, putting emphasis on proficiency in English and/or French. Higher scores in IELTS translate to more points when combined with education and experience. The official pre-qualification tool is available for self-evaluation through this link –http://www.cic.gc.ca/ctc-vac/getting-started.asp

The total points you need whether you are targeting Australia, New Zealand or Canada may be less or more than 100, but giving it your 100 percent should be the baseline.

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