Last week, the government announced major changes to the skilled migration eligibility by putting in place salary thresholds to decide whether you are “skilled” or not.
Under the new policy, those earning below $48,859 a year will no longer be considered “skilled” regardless of job description. However, if you are earning above $73,299, you will automatically be considered “highly skilled” even if your job is cleaning toilets.
Immigration NZ will also remove the ability of temporary work visa holders to bring in partners unless they qualify themselves.
A three-year limit would be placed on temporary Essential Skills visa holders earning below the threshold while seasonal work visas changes would see those issued for a season rather than a full 12 months.
These will impact the Filipino immigrant in the following ways:
1. Entry via the student visa would become extremely difficult, if not impossible
To many Filipinos coming here as students, there is a big upfront cost. Without the prospect of gaining residency, the numbers would sure to drop in the coming years. The changes are tilted towards the mature qualified post graduates, away from the young undergrads which is what is happening today. This would be the death knell of the dodgy private schools or PTEs as we know it.
For you to make it to 160 points, the Filipino student should gun for Masters or Phds in top-ranking universities like Auckland or Otago University. This move not only costs more but entry into graduate programs are more stringent. It goes without saying that you should specialise in areas that are in demand.
2. Most foreign workers in the low wage sectors would just be disposable workers or “OFW forever”
The bulk of Filipinos in New Zealand are those working in the Hospitality Industry as Chefs, caregivers in rest homes, and farm hands. They hold temporary work visas and most would be shut off from ever gaining residency — except those covered by the one-off “South Island contribution visa.”
What this means is that people working in this sector should aspire for management roles such as becoming a Head Chef, Healthcare Centre Manager or Farm Manager. The magic number you are looking at is earning $24 per hour and in reality, not a lot of small businesses in New Zealand can pay such amount unless you put on added responsibility.
If you are given the maximum stay of a three year visa, remember this will be followed by a “minimum stand down period” before becoming eligible to reapply for another temporary visa so you have to act fast.
3. The wise will only target high paying jobs or high paying companies
If you are still strategising your way into New Zealand, there is no other way now as it had become a question of salary above anything else.
According to Careers NZ, the jobs with the highest median salaries (as of 2015) are the following:
- Doctors/specialists – 207k
- IT systems architect – 125k
- IT project manager – 115k
- IT consultant – 105k
- IT sales – 105k
- Engineering manager – 105k
- Bank, Finance and insurance manager – 100k
- Finance manager – 97k
- Energy Engineer – 95k
- Lawyer – 95k
- Commerical Real Estate Agent – 95k
- Corporate banker – 95k
- Marketing, media and communications manager – 95k
- Construction project manager – 90k
Even if you are still in the Philippines or in a third country like Singapore, Japan or Korea, you can gain qualifications and experience in these areas and work your way up. Another possibility you can explore are working in multinational companies with offices in New Zealand. Like all good things, it is a process and you should be ready if the goal posts would move again in the future.