New pay rules for mi­grants


New mi­grants earn­ing less than the me­dian New Zealand in­come of $49,000 will not be clas­si­fied as highly skilled, re­gard­less of what in­dus­try they work in, the Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced.

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Michael Wood­house has also re­vealed a new higher pay thresh­old of $73,000 - one and a half times the me­dian in­come - above which any mi­grant will be classed as highly skilled.

Speak­ing in Queen­stown, Wood­house also an­nounced the in­tro­duc­tion of a new three­year limit for work­ers in New Zealand on tem­po­rary visas, fol­lowed by a min­i­mum stand­down pe­riod be­fore they could ap­ply again.

Work­ers in sea­sonal in­dus­tries would also have their visas short­ened to the length of their work.

Wood­house said the changes were about ‘‘at­tract­ing mi­grants who bring the most eco­nomic ben­e­fits to New Zealand’’ and man­ag­ing the num­ber and qual­ity of new ar­rivals.

The Gov­ern­ment took a ‘‘Ki­wis first’’ ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion, but wanted to en­sure em­ploy­ers could fill gen­uine labour or

‘‘At­tract mi­grants who bring the most eco­nomic ben­e­fits.’’

Michael Wood­house

skills short­ages with overseas work­ers.

Wood­house also an­nounced a one-off ‘‘path­way to res­i­dence’’ for about 4000 longterm, tem­po­rary mi­grant work­ers and their fam­i­lies liv­ing in the South Is­land.

The work­ers had filled gen­uine short­ages and be­come well-set­tled, but had no path­way to res­i­dence un­der cur­rent mi­gra­tion set­tings.

El­i­gi­ble mi­grants could re­ceive an ini­tial Work to Res­i­dence tem­po­rary visa, and could ap­ply for res­i­dence two years later pro­vided they stayed in the same in­dus­try and re­gion.

‘‘Many of these mi­grants are al­ready well set­tled in New Zealand and make a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to their com­mu­ni­ties. The re­quire­ment to re­main in the same re­gion for a fur­ther two years af­ter be­ing granted res­i­dence en­sures that com­mit­ment to the re­gion con­tin­ues,’’ Wood­house said.

In Oc­to­ber Wood­house cut the tar­get range for the num­ber of peo­ple gain­ing res­i­dence from 90,000-100,000 down to 85,000-95,000.

At the same time he raised the num­ber of points re­quired for res­i­dence from 140 to 160 un­der the Skilled Mi­grant Cat­e­gory and cut the num­ber of places avail­able for those who wanted to join fam­ily mem­bers here.

The capped fam­ily cat­e­gories were cut to 2000 a year from 5500 and he tem­po­rar­ily closed the Par­ent Cat­e­gory to new ap­pli­ca­tions.

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