TOP promises major immigration overhaul, removal of international student's right to work

Tuariki Delamere and Geoff Simmons.
Tuariki Delamere and Geoff Simmons. Photo credit: Supplied

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has promised an immediate, major overhaul of New Zealand's immigration system if elected.

TOP leader Geoff Simmons and immigration spokesperson Tuariki Delamere announced their 'Smart Immigration' policy in Henderson, Auckland on Friday.

TOP is proposing:

  • A Royal Commission of Inquiry is established to 'reset' the immigration system
  • Increased refugee quota for Pacific nations threatened by climate change
  • Removal of the automatic right to work from international student visas
  • Welcome returning Kiwis and skilled international workers
  • Required increased proof for partnership visa applicants

Delamere said the current immigration policy, which is "poorly regulated" and has "high immigration", has contributed to the failing house and job markets in New Zealand.

"We can't allow this to continue," he said. 

"Evidence suggests that migrants are competing with New Zealanders in the job market for low-skilled jobs, a pressure which our post-pandemic economy simply cannot accommodate."

Delamere said with borders closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand has the opportunity to review the border and immigration systems.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry would evaluate the success of New Zealand's immigration system by: addressing skill shortages, review the impacts of high net migration, investigate systematic issues and recommend policy changes

The party also plans to require increased proof for partnership visa applicants as there is currently a major risk of fraud, they said,

"Couples only have to prove that they have lived together for a minimum of 12 months, I remember as a student I had flatmates longer than that," Delamere said.

"TOP proposes that partnership visas should all be conditional to a three-year period, with more evidence provided to prove the relationship is not only genuine, but stable."

In regards to work visas for international students, TOP said there is evidence they go on to work in semi-skilled service jobs and are therefore competing with the New Zealand labour market.

Under TOP's immigration policy, only those with prospective employment in an updated skills shortage field will be allowed to remain in New Zealand.

Simmons said the party isn't anti-asylum or anti-migrant, they just want better immigration policy.

"COVID-19 has been a huge wake-up call for us and provides us with an opportunity to further evaluate how open our borders are," he said.