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'Kiwis first': New Zealand joins Australia in tightening visa rules

Irish people wishing to enter New Zealand under a skilled visa will have to earn $48,859 a year.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

NEW ZEALAND HAS announced that it is tightening visa rules, a day after neighbours Australia announced similar changes.

The changes include a minimum income for those applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC).

That means that Irish people wishing to enter New Zealand under that visa will have to earn $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. However, for unskilled jobs that jumps to $73,299.

The New Zealand government also wants to introduce minimum earnings to determine the skill level of applicants and introduce 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. The changes will also make it more difficult for family members to join visa holders in New Zealand.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said:

“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.

Migration is a key issue ahead of New Zealand’s general election on 23 September.

Public consultation on the changes to temporary migration settings closes on 21 May, with implementation planned for later this year.

Yesterday, Australia announced it will axe the 457 temporary work visa, which entitles people to work in the country for up to four years once an employer sponsors them.

Read: Australia to axe the 457 temporary work visa

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