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Immigration settings

At the request of the referring Ministers, the Productivity Commission undertook its inquiry into what immigration policy settings would best facilitate New Zealand’s long-term economic growth and promote the wellbeing of New Zealanders. 

The Commission published its preliminary findings and recommendations in November 2021. These created considerable interest and feedback, representing a range of views. We received 181 submissions and undertook over 65 meetings with individuals, government and non-government organisations and firms throughout New Zealand.  The final report which was published in May 2022 benefitted from feedback from this process of consultation. 

Our final report Immigration - Fit for the future makes 32 findings and 24 recommendations to Government.

Three men on a construction site pointing to the horizon immigration inquiry main image

What did the inquiry find?

  • Immigration is not likely to be the solution nor the cause of the productivity challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • The relationship between productivity and immigration requires a balance of trade-offs between government objectives, and a consideration of short‑run and long‑run impacts.
  • Immigration has played an important part in New Zealand’s economic development.
  • On average, immigration is not driving down wages nor displacing local workers.
  • The use of Labour Market Tests, Skill Shortage Lists and tying migrants to employers can suppress wages and productivity.
  • The supply of infrastructure is less responsive to population growth now than in the past.

What does the Commission recommend?

Final report cover - group of diverse hands held in middleSuccessive governments need a robust and transparent way to balance the longer-term benefits of immigration policy with short-term pressures and challenges. Alongside this, the focus of immigration policy should be on selecting migrants who can make the biggest contribution to the economy and ensuring that New Zealand remains attractive to skilled migrants as the global competition for talent intensifies. The Commission recommended the Government:

  • Publish an Immigration Government Policy Statement (GPS) to clarify how immigration will be managed and connected to other government objectives, including what investments will be made in absorptive capacity.
  • Create stronger links with education and training policies through the GPS and by requiring Workforce Development Councils to report on how demand for migrant labour and skill gaps inform their training priorities.
  • Engage with Māori in good faith on how to reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi in immigration policy and institutions.
  • Increase funding for iwi involvement and partnership in the expansion of the Welcoming Communities initiative.
  • Reduce the use of Skills Shortage Lists for immigration purposes and encourage wages to reflect scarcity.
  • Regularly review visa categories and the residency points system to ensure they sufficiently prioritise high skilled migrants.
  • Cease the practice of tying migrants to a single employer.
  • Provide additional funding for the Labour Inspectorate to support labour market regulation, the proposed accredited employer scheme, and the integrity of the immigration system.

Our final report presents 24 recommendations to Government. Find out more, download the following:

Government response

The interim response from Government on 3 April highlighted general agreement with the recommendations made in our final report.

The response summarises the major reforms being undertaken to drive a more coordinated, connected and longer-term approach to workforce planning and development, as well as the further work that’s needed based on the Commission’s recommendations.

“I thank the Commission for their work and valuable recommendations which largely align with the Government’s objectives to get the immigration settings right for the long term as we transition to a high-productivity, high-wage, low-emissions economy.”
Minister Grant Robertson

The Commission was an independent research and advisory body that did not have a mandate to implement any policies or programmes. However, by carrying out high quality, innovative research and evidence-based inquiries, we aimed to influence and inform policy change and decision making.

See our media release Productivity Commission | Government response to Productivity Commission’s Immigration: Fit for the future inquiry