Govt reveals immigration changes, to introduce pay threshold for permanent and temporary skilled migrants

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The government has announced a raft of new immigration rule changes today aimed at ensuring New Zealand gets the right mix of skills from its migrant workers.

The rules include new two pay settings which will now be used to determine what constitutes a highly skilled job.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse revealed in Queenstown today that the Government plans to introduce remuneration thresholds for both permanent and temporary skilled migrants.

Our Political Editor analyses the big changes to immigration that will see new wage threshold requirements introduced.
Source: 1 NEWS

The move, which aims to ensure that migrants aren't taking lower skilled jobs that could be done by Kiwis, will see a new remuneration threshold set at the New Zealand median income of $49,000.

Anyone who earns less than that amount will no longer be classified as highly-skilled, regardless of whether their job may have been classified that way previously.

Permanent residence applicants will no longer be able to claim points for jobs that are considered skilled but are paid below the median income.

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Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Woodhouse also revealed the Government is proposing that those eligible for a temporary 'Essential Skills' work visa, but who earn less than the threshold will still be able to work here, however they will be limited to a maximum time in country duration of three years.

A second threshold will be set at $73,000 - one-and-a-half times the median income. Anyone who earns more than that amount will automatically be classified as highly skilled.

Permanent residence applicants will be allowed to claim points for jobs that are not currently considered skilled, but are paid above the higher threshold.

Temporary work visa holders earning over the threshold will be automatically be classified as higher skilled. This means they will not be subject to the "same time in country constraints as those considered lower-skilled".

Mr Woodhouse said the new requirements would only apply to visa applications made after the policy is introduced. 

"I also want to make it crystal clear that employers will be able to continue using migrant labour when they can demonstrate a real labour or skills shortage and that they cannot find New Zealanders for the job," he said. 

"But we're also setting a challenge to employers to take on more New Zealanders and invest in the training needed to upskill them."

'One-off pathway to residence in South Island'

Mr Woodhouse said a new policy would be to provide a "one-off pathway to residence for those lower-skilled temporary migrants" already in the South Island.

"Eligible migrants will be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which will make them eligible for residence in two more years provided they stay in the same industry and region," he said. 

Source: 1 NEWS

Record immigration rates have been in the news recently, and opposition parties say the huge number of newcomers is a major reason for Auckland's housing shortage.

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