New Zealand tightens immigration rules in 'Kiwi-first' crackdown

Kristopher Drake
April 19, 2017

However, the government will issue new temporary visas for companies to recruit foreign workers but the rules will come with stricter requirements.

Federated Farmers welcomes the changes proposed to the skilled migrant category for residency.

Originally from Hong Kong, Chung has been in New Zealand for five years, coming first as a high school student at Takapuna Grammar School and graduated last year with a Bachelor of International Hospitality Management degree from AUT University.

Anyone who earns less than that amount will no longer be classified as highly-skilled - regardless of whether their job may have been classified that way previously.

"No immigration system is flawless, 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", chief executive Kirk Hope said.

The new policy will allow eligible migrants to be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which would make them eligible for residence in two more years, provided they stay in the same industry and region.

"The upper salary threshold of approximately $73,000 will mean that some farm managers who are highly sought after, and therefore highly paid, will at least be able to entertain the prospect of long term residency".

"Introducing these thresholds is about creating a balance - a balance between ensuring employers can meet genuine labour shortages by using people from overseas, while at the same time ensuring those lower skilled migrants are coming here with a clear understanding of their visa conditions", Woodhouse said. "We have 139,000 Kiwis out of work and many are desperate to get a job".

The proposals would also line up temporary work visas in seasonal jobs to the season rather than for 12 months as is now the case.

"New Zealand is richer for immigration, but our public services, housing, and infrastructure can't keep up with the current record level of immigration".

In the year to February, net migration rose to a record 71,333, of which 57,156 were bound for Auckland.

A tightening of immigration rules will likely be the last before the election and help regions get the workers needed while sending fewer new arrivals to Auckland, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

The Government has argued strong immigration flows are a measure of the country's success and contribute positively to the wider economy.

This week Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced an end to a visa programme for skilled migrants, as part of a bid to tackle unemployment.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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