Wellington, Apr 20: Following suit of its Pacific neighbour, the New Zealand government has announced its plans to tighten the access to skilled workers visas in order to help get their own citizens the jobs ahead of migrants.
The new measures are aimed at controlling record-high levels of migration to New Zealand, amid growing concern about housing shortages, road congestion and overcrowding in Auckland, and other major New Zealand cities.
Last year more than 70,000 people migrated to New Zealand, according to Statistics New Zealand, the majority of them choosing to settle in Auckland, now home to nearly 1.5 million people.
“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,” states a press release. “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.”
The changes come a day after Australia announced it would give priority to its own workers by replacing the skilled 457 visa. Following suit, New Zealand’s Minister of Immigration, Michael Woodhouse used a similar language as that of Aussie PM, Malcolm Turnbull while announcing tougher criteria, saying: “The government has a Kiwis-first approach to immigration.”
According to the statement issued by the Ministry of Immigration, changes to permanent immigration settings include introducing two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC): 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.
According to these new changes, foreign workers earning less than USD 49,000 would not be allowed to stay in New Zealand for more than three years. An immigrant worker will need to get a job in which they earn at least the median income to get qualified as a skilled worker, and to qualify as highly skilled, they will need to earn at least 150% of the median income.
A Work Visa Applications Report released on April 5, 2017 by the New Zealand’s Ministry of Immigration states that since 2012, approximately 1.22 lakh Indians have been granted the work visa, and since July 2006, around 52,000 Indians were granted visas under the category of ‘Job Search’.