Prospective immigrants to New Zealand will be given greater incentive to go to provincial New Zealand under a series of immigration measures outlined by Prime Minister John Key today to the National Party conference in Auckland.
The points that skilled migrants get for a job offer outside Auckland will be increased from 10 points to 30 points from November 1 - of the 100 points they require.
They will have to stay in the regions for at least 12 months instead of three months.
The points for immigrants on an entrepreneur work visa will double from 20 points to 40 points of the 120 points they require if they set up a business outside Auckland.
Mr Key said the Immigration Service expected to approve up to 200 people on that visa next year.
Mr Key also announced the Government was considering a new "global impact visa" aimed at technology entrepreneurs who wanted to set up a global business based in New Zealand.
It would be considered over the next few months.
Mr Key also announced that about 600 low skilled overseas workers in the South Island - thought to be mainly farm workers from the Philippines - would be able to apply for residency.
For the past five years, they have had temporary work visas rolled over.
"Their children are at schools," Mr Key said. "Their families are valuable members of their communities and they conscientious workers working paying their taxes," he said.
Details would be announced later in the year.
Mr Key said a small new measure used by employers in Queenstown would be extended across the country and that is the ability to check directly with Work and Income as to whether New Zealanders are available for particular jobs before lodging a visa application with Immigration New Zealand.
Mr Key said the moves would contribute to a better balance in immigration setting and help to spread the benefits of migration across the country.
"We need to be more c connected with the world because that's where our opportunities come from."
Mr Key said afterwards that his speech showed National's contrast with political opponent.
"National strongly backs the fact that New Zealand should be open - open for investment, open for migrants - and actually a globally connected country where we can do well because there is literally on our doorstep literally billions of middle-income consumers that want to buy our products."
He rejected a suggestion that National was just copying Labour's policy.
"They've said maybe a few more migrants should go around the country but they haven't indicated at all how that might happen."
National's view was that if migrants brought capital, skills, and the right attitude they could make a real difference for the prosperity of New Zealand.
Mr Key said it would affect the Auckland housing market "only at the margins."
It might mean a few thousand from the "soft cap" 45,000 to 50,000 immigrants would go to other cities or regions.
Auckland would still be a very attractive destination.
"We are not making it harder to come to Auckland. We are making it more attractive to go round the regions."