Wednesday 19 April 2017

New Zealand To Follow Australia's Pathway And Tighten Its Immigration

New Zealand

New Zealand said on Wednesday it will tighten access to its skilled work visas, just a day after the United States and neighbouring Australia announced similar restrictions on immigration.

New Zealand's immigration minister said he was taking a "Kiwis-first approach to immigration", echoing Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and US president Donald Trump in announcing policies to ensure jobs for Australians and Americans.

The move will likely deal another blow to thousands of Britons wishing to migrate to the Southern Hemisphere after Mr Turnbull's announcement on Tuesday.

"These changes are designed to strike the right balance ... and encourage employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them," immigration minister Michael Woodhouse said in a statement, using the colloquial term for New Zealand citizens.

Under the changes, employers would need to provide a minimum income of NZ$49,000 (£27,000) for anyone entering on a prioritised "skilled". Anyone earning more than NZ$73,000 would be classed as highly skilled.

The immigration minister said the Government would also introduce a new three-year limit for workers in New Zealand on temporary visas, followed by a minimum stand-down period before they could apply again and that workers in seasonal industries would also have their visas shortened to the length of their work.

Speaking in Queenstown, Mr Woodhouse claimed that the changes will help "improve the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand ."

Last year more than 70,000 people migrated to New Zealand, according to Statistics New Zealand. Migration has become a hot topic in the lead up to the country's September 23 general election.

Opposition parties have slammed the policy claiming it is not enough and just a move "to show they're doing something."

Winston Peters, leader of the centre populist party New Zealand First, described the changes as a "con" and "a callous attempt to hold onto power" without addressing the real issue.

"They are fiddling with the issue while the plain fact is foreign workers will still be able to come here when employers claim they can't get Kiwis."

Andrew Little, the Labour leader, also labelled the changes tinkering.

"We need to take a breather and catch up...this is a typical Bill English move. No vision, no leadership, no fix for the problem."

The changes to be introduced later this year include introducing a minimum income requirement, making it more difficult for family members to join visa holders and limiting the amount of time seasonal workers are allowed to stay in New Zealand.

A boom in new arrivals has helped the New Zealand economy race along with some of the strongest gross domestic product growth in the developed world.

Many sectors, such as technology and construction suffer from a severe shortage of workers and companies in these areas were recruiting many of their workers from offshore.

Following the Brexit referendum last year, New Zealand raised fears of a “British invasion” after receiving a rush of interest from would-be migrants, including a tenfold increase on the day of the vote.

The spike was revealed by New Zealand’s immigration agency, which said it received 10,647 registrations of interest from potential British migrants in the seven weeks after the referendum, compared with 4,599 during the same period last year.

Results from New Zealand’s 2006 Census showed that 244,800 people or 6 percent of the population were born in the United Kingdom, making it the largest overseas-born group in the country. Of those born in the United Kingdom, 61 percent had been living in New Zealand for 20 years or more.



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