Immigration thresholds to focus on skills

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19 Apr 2017

Immigration thresholds to focus on skills

Changes to immigration settings will help get higher skilled migrants while also safeguarding the positon of New Zealand workers, says BusinessNZ.

The Immigration Minister has announced new rules for migrants applying for New Zealand residence, including a pay threshold for higher skilled migrants.

The pay threshold, set at the median income for skilled jobs, will reduce the potential for migrants undercutting Kiwi workers' pay, Mr Hope said.

"Employers have faced real difficulties in getting higher skilled workers and today's changes will help get more focus on actively-sought skills.

"At the same time, proposed stand-down rules for lower-skilled migrants will reduce the potential for residence applications to be dominated by lower-skilled workers.

"There will always be a tension between the need for in-demand skills and the requirement for optimal access by Kiwis to the employment market.

"No immigration system is perfect, but the proposed changes should help get migrants who are better suited to our employment needs, while at the same time valuing the skill levels of New Zealand workers."

Mr Hope said the employment market was dynamic and constantly changing, and it was appropriate to refocus immigration settings on an ongoing basis.

"We are pleased to see that Government is keen to work with businesses on a system that responds to economic demand. It is important that immigration policy does not act as a bottleneck on job and economic growth."

Mr Hope said proposed changes announced today – including pay thresholds to determine the skill levels of Essential Skill work visas and stand-down rules for lower-skilled migrants, would also reduce the potential for migrants undercutting Kiwi workers' pay.

He said the changes to 'pathways to residence' for migrant workers in the South Island announced today were also a useful response to particular labour needs in the south.

BusinessNZ will contribute to the public consultation on the proposed Essential Skills rules.