Government's changes to the way people get permanent residency in New Zealand appeal to Whanganui immigration consultant Vijeshwar Prasad.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced the changes on Tuesday, and they are to last for two years. Their combined effect will be to make it slightly harder for migrants to get permanent residency.

Mr Prasad said the changes could be a reaction to political pressure, with immigration and the housing crisis likely to be an issue at the next election. There were other measures Government could take to ease housing availability without limiting migrants, he said.

Making it harder to get residency could lessen the number of migrants working for low wages and in poor conditions. Government should get tough on that anyway, Mr Prasad said. And the lack of migrants could push more Kiwi beneficiaries back into work.


People getting residency on the basis of their skills will now need more points. Mr Prasad said they can get an extra 30 points just by living in the regions - and that should help places like Whanganui.

People often left the regions as soon as they had those points. There should be regulations that make them stay and invest for at least five years, he said.

The extra points required will not put the bar too high.

"If you have come to the country and worked five years, and have English (language) then you should be able to get it," Mr Prasad said.

Compulsory English language tests are a good idea for migrants. Understanding the language stops them being exploited by employers, because they will know their rights.

The new measures also put a two-year ban on children getting residency for their parents. Supporting the parents of migrants has been costing Government $10 million a year.

Mr Prasad said some migrants exploited their parents, using them to look after children and not passing benefit money on to them.

"If you can't look after your parents then you should also go back to your country."

Immigration staff should interview parents separately, to make sure they are not being exploited. And the parents also need a good grasp of English language, Mr Prasad said.

"I think they should learn the culture of the country."