New Zealand Tightens Visa Rules Amid Migration Concerns

New Zealand Tightens Visa Rules Amid Migration Concerns

New Zealand’s authorities have announced a tightening of work visa regulations in response to what they term “unsustainable” migration levels.

Applicants with low skills are now required to meet English language proficiency criteria and are granted a three-year stay, reduced from the previous five-year allowance.

“Ensuring the appropriateness of our immigration policies is crucial to the government’s strategy for economic recovery,” stated Immigration Minister Erica Stanford.

Last year, a near-record 173,000 individuals migrated to New Zealand, prompting the adjustment of rules. Most work visa applicants must now satisfy minimum skill and work experience prerequisites.

Furthermore, plans to expedite residency for 11 occupations, including welders and fitters, have been scrapped. Employers bear the responsibility of verifying migrants’ qualifications and skills before offering employment.

Stanford underscored that these changes mark the inception of a more comprehensive initiative aimed at refining the immigration system. Stricter visa regulations also serve to combat the exploitation of migrant labor.

With New Zealand’s population reaching 5.3 million and migration surging since late 2022, the government aims to prioritize highly skilled migrants to address specific shortages, such as secondary teachers.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon expressed concerns last year about the sustainability of high migration rates. He criticized the immigration system’s reopening during the pandemic-induced economic slowdown.

Concerns have been raised about rising rents and housing prices due to the influx of migrants, exacerbating inflation pressures.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand has cautioned about the potential unintended consequences of the new visa rules. While supportive of ensuring appropriate workforce intake, they emphasize the importance of maintaining a balance to prevent skilled workers from seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Australia, facing similar migration challenges, announced plans to halve its intake by tightening visa regulations for international students and low-skilled workers. This move reflects growing pressure to alleviate housing and infrastructure strains in the country.

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