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New Zealand to raise 'quality' of immigrants

IANS  |  Wellington 

Immigrants to will need to meet a higher bar for residency after the on Wednesday unveiled new rules to "improve the quality" of migrants.

People coming to on low-skilled work visas would be allowed to stay for a maximum of three years before having a "stand down period" and becoming eligible to apply again, Xinhua news agency quoted Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse as saying.

The changes were designed to better manage immigration and improve the long-term labour market contribution of temporary and permanent migration, Woodhouse said.

"It's important that our immigration settings are attracting the right people, with the right skills, to help fill genuine skill shortages and contribute to our growing economy," he said.

"That is why we are making a number of changes to our permanent and temporary immigration settings aimed at managing the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to "

Other changes included requiring people to earn the median income of 48,859 NZ dollars ($34,201) a year to qualify as a high-skilled migrant.

"The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the median income of 73,299 NZ dollars a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled, but are well paid," Woodhouse said.

Partners and children would no longer be allowed to enter automatically and get work and student visas, but instead would enter as visitors and need to meet visa requirements in their own right.

The Business lobby welcomed the changes, saying the pay thresholds would reduce the potential for migrants undercutting workers' pay.

"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 workers," chief executive Kirk Hope said.

However, opposition lawmakers criticised the rule changes as tinkering with the immigration system.

"is richer for immigration, but our public services, housing, and infrastructure can't keep up with the current record level of immigration. We need to take a breather and catch up," opposition leader from Labour Party Andrew Little said.

The changes did not address "the huge numbers of people coming in to do low level qualifications or low skill work, then using those visas as a stepping-stone to residency," said Little.

The announcement "won't change the fact we are issuing over 6,000 work visas for labourers a year when we have thousands of unemployed labourers in this country already," he said.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, April 19 2017. 13:04 IST