Immigration changes announced today could lead to a rush by people who do not meet new income thresholds to lodge their applications before the changes takes effect, an immigration adviser predicts.

From August 14 this year applicants will be required to provide proof they earn more than $49,000 to qualify for a highly-skilled worker visa.

"Many, who earn $30,000 or $40,000, will rush to put in their applications before the deadline," said Tony Tse, a licensed immigration adviser and general manager of A & P Investments Ltd.

Tse, however, said most of his clients would not be affected as they earn upwards of $50,000.


"If applicants are genuinely highly skilled and they are in demand here, they should be earning higher than $49,000," said Tse.

"But there will be many, those borderline cases, who will be hard hit by the changes."

Applicants who lodge their applications before August 14 will have their applications processed under current policy instructions.

Tse said a main concern for him was the changes to how points were given according to a partner's qualifications.

Partners of skilled migrants would be awarded points only if they held a recognised Bachelor's degree or higher, or a recognised post-graduate qualification.

"It seems unfair that who a highly skilled migrant is married to could affect their chances of moving here," Tse said.

New Zealand Association of Migration and Investment chairwoman June Ranson said people who were thinking of applying would be doing so sooner rather than later.

Another adviser, who did not want to be named, however felt the new threshold was "unreasonable".


"How many Kiwis are actually paid $49,000?" he said.

"Migrants already struggle to find work, even if they are highly skilled. Expecting them to be earning $49,000 from day one, that's unreasonable."

Applicants would also no longer be able to claim points for having close family support in New Zealand, or finding employment in identified future growth areas.

Kirk Hope, chief executive of BusinessNZ, said the pay threshold would reduce the potential of migrants undercutting Kiwi workers' pay.

"No immigration system is perfect, but the proposed changes should help get migrants who are better suited to our employment needs, while at the same time valuing the skill levels of New Zealand workers," Hope said.