New Zealand tightens visa regulations, shortens work permits for international workers | Explained | World News - Hindustan Times
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New Zealand tightens visa regulations, shortens work permits for international workers | Explained

Apr 08, 2024 07:53 PM IST

About 173,000 non-New Zealanders migrated to the country in 2023. With a population of 5.3 million, New Zealand has been seeing a surge in migration since 2022.

New Zealand tightened its visa regulations citing high “unsustainable net migration” levels and introducing additional criteria like skills and language requirements as well as shortening the lengths of work permits issued to international citizens.

A view of Dunedin, New Zealand. “Ōtepoti (Dunedin) is widely known for its Scottish influence, but the area is also home to Māori history and stories of the manawhenua that settled here long before the Europeans arrived.” (Luciano Brito / Shutterstock)
A view of Dunedin, New Zealand. “Ōtepoti (Dunedin) is widely known for its Scottish influence, but the area is also home to Māori history and stories of the manawhenua that settled here long before the Europeans arrived.” (Luciano Brito / Shutterstock)

Country's Immigration Minister Erica Stanford said on Sunday that the changes to the Accredited Employer Worker Visa (AEWV) scheme were effective immediately and New Zealand will be “better testing the local labor market and reducing the risks of putting New Zealanders out of work”.

A statement by Stanford added, “The Government is focused on attracting and retaining the highly skilled migrants such as secondary teachers, where there is a skill shortage. At the same time we need to ensure that New Zealanders are put to the front of the line for jobs where there are no skills shortages.”

Why is New Zealand tightening its visa regulations?

As per the statement, 173,000 non-New Zealanders migrated to the country in 2023. With a population of 5.3 million, New Zealand has been seeing a surge in migration since 2022, BBC reported.

The government is concerned that several New Zealand citizens would be put out of work. It wants to ensure that “New Zealanders are put to the front of the line for jobs where there are no skills shortages.”

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Through these rules, the New Zealand government is planning to develop a “smarter immigration system” which would eventually lead to managing net migration.

The statement read, “These changes are the start of a more comprehensive work programme to create a smarter immigration system that manages net migration, responds to our changing economic context, attracts top talent, revitalises international education, is self-funding and sustainable, and better manages risk.”

What have been the major changes in visa regulations?

The authorities introduced an English language requirement for migrants who will be applying for low-skilled roles.

In most work visas, applicants will be required to show work experience and would be required to possess certain skills. Before offering a job, employers will have to ensure that candidates possess these.

The length of several work visas has also been reduced to two years and the maximum continuous stay period has been reduced to 3 years.

Read Here: UAE extends visa-on-arrival policy for these 87 countries

Authorities have changed plans to add 11 new roles to the Green List — a list of highly skilled roles that the country wasn't able to fill and these provide fast-track citizenship. These included welders, turners and fitters.

Issuing new AEWVs for employers would mean that the organisations will have to ensure that migrants are employed for at least 30 hours every week.

How long has New Zealand faced the migrant crisis?

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon last year said that the country was seeing such high net migration rates which seemed unsustainable.

He said, “We're inheriting a system that's been a complete hash.”

Luxon, said in an interview in December, that the country's immigration system was closed “at a time when employers were looking for workers [during the pandemic]... and then Labour opened the floodgates just as the economy was starting to slow”.

New Zealand's neighbour Australia has also been seeing a major influx of migrants. The country announced last year that it would halve its migrant influx.

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