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

Jerome Frank
April 19, 2017

The government is committed to a "Kiwis first" immigration policy, making it harder for firms to hire overseas with new restrictions on temporary work visas for anyone earning less than the median wage, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

"We have always said that we constantly review our immigration policies to ensure they are fit for objective and today's announcement is another example of this government's responsible, pragmatic approach to managing immigration", he said.

The changes include raising the income threshold to be classed as a skilled migrant to almost NZ$50,000 (£27,500) a year, classifying anyone earning NZ$73,000 and above as high-skilled and restricting work visas to low-skilled workers to three years, after which a mandatory stand-down period will be enforced before workers can re-apply.

Woodhouse said the adjustments, including restricting skilled worker visas to those who will earn more than $49,000 once in New Zealand, would reduce the number of migrants, although no estimate has been produced.

Partners and children would no longer be allowed to enter automatically and get work and student visas, but instead would enter New Zealand as visitors and need to meet visa requirements in their own right.

The announcement follows the footsteps of tighter work visa policies unveiled in the United States and Australia. Turnbull said jobs had to go to Australians first, before businesses could consider hiring foreign workers.

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

"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".

"No immigration system is ideal, 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.

Now be on an Essential Skills visa for a job in the South Island and have been on one in the South Island for five years or more. Business NZ said it would participate in the consultation, which closes on May 21.

Woodhouse also announced a pathway for some 4,000 South Island-based lower-skilled temporary migrants to become permanent residents, requiring them to stay for two more years in the same industry and region.

Officials will also try to limit seasonal work visas to peak demand times, rather than for 12 months as is presently the case.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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