After United States and Australia, its the New Zealand that has tightened visa rules saying it needs to prioritise its citizens. The government on Wednesday announced several changes to skilled work visas as well as a reduced the validity period of visas issued to employees engaged in seasonal work like fruit picking, reported The Guardian. “The government has a Kiwis first approach to immigration,” said New Zealand’s Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
The minister added that the new rules will attract “the right people, with the right skills, to help fill genuine skill shortages and contribute to [the] growing economy”. Apart from unemployment, the government hopes to tackle problems like choked public services, a housing shortage, congestion on roads and overcrowding in Auckland and other major cities.
As per the new rules, those who earn NZ$50,000 (Rs 22.6 lakh approximately) a year will be classified as skilled migrants, while people with an annual income of NZ$73,000 (Rs 33 lakh approximately) and above will be considered high-skilled migrants. Besides, low-skilled workers will be issued temporary work visas for three years, after which there will be a mandatory cooling-off period before they can re-apply. Visas issued to seasonal workers will be valid only during the period of peak labour demand. Currently, such workers are issued visas valid for 12 months, reported New Zealand Herald.
Migration to New Zealand is at an all-time high. According to Statistics New Zealand, more than 70,000 people migrated to the country last year. Most of these migrants hail from India, China, Britain, the Philippines and South Africa. Moreover, elections are due in September and immigration and housing affordability are among the top concerns for the electorate at the moment. The changes announced on Wednesday will be effective from August this year.
On Tuesday, Australia had abolished its 457 visa programme to tackle unemployment in the country. “We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains: Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had said. US President Donald Trump had signed an executive order on Tuesday ushering in changes to the H-1B visa scheme.