New Zealand follows Australia and Trump to tighten immigration
April 19, 2017
Image: NZ Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse lays down the law (sourced)
The New Zealand Government has today announced sweeping changes to skilled migration following on from an announcement by Australia to scrap the 457 Visa scheme. New Zealand Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, has announced that skilled migrants will need to have a higher income threshold of $73,000, up from $49,000 – an increase of nearly two thirds. In addition a new three year limit for those on temporary visas has been introduced with a stand-down period to be enforced before someone can apply again. Seasonal workers will have their visa’s adjusted to comply with the period of the season.
“The Government is committed to ensuring inward migration best supports the economy and the labour market,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“It’s important that our immigration settings are attracting the right people, with the right skills, to help fill genuine skill shortages and contribute to our growing economy.
“That is why we are making a number of changes to our permanent and temporary immigration settings aimed at managing the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand.”
Changes to permanent immigration settings include introducing two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), which will complement the current qualifications and occupation framework.
“One remuneration threshold will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The SMC points table, under which individuals claim points towards their residence application, will also be realigned to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.
“Collectively these changes will improve the skill composition of the SMC and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand.”
The Government is also proposing a number of changes to temporary migration settings to manage the number and settlement expectations of new migrants coming to New Zealand on Essential Skills work visas.
The changes include:
The introduction of remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder, which would align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for Skilled Migrant Category applicants
The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled and lower-paid Essential Skills visa holders, after which a minimum stand down period will apply before they are eligible for another lower-skilled temporary work visa.
Aligning the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand with the new skill levels.
Exploring which occupations have a seasonal nature and ensuring that the length of the visa aligns with peak labour demand.
“I want to make it clear that where there are genuine labour or skills shortages, employers will be able to continue to use migrant labour to fill those jobs,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“However, the Government has a Kiwis first approach to immigration and these changes are designed to strike the right balance between reinforcing the temporary nature of Essential Skills work visas and encouraging employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them.
“We have always said that we constantly review our immigration policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and today’s announcement is another example of this Government’s responsible, pragmatic approach to managing immigration.”
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