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New Zealand changes visa norms, cites 'unsustainable net migration'

New Zealand has implemented stricter visa rules, including language and skill criteria and shorter work permit durations, to address concerns regarding "unsustainable net migration." These changes, announced by Minister of Immigration Erica Stanford, aim to prioritize job opportunities for New Zealanders while attracting highly skilled migrants to address specific skill shortages

New Zealand changes visa norms, cites 'unsustainable net migration'
First Published Apr 8, 2024, 7:31 AM IST

New Zealand has implemented significant changes to its visa regulations, aiming to address concerns surrounding "unsustainable net migration." The adjustments, particularly to the Accredited Employer Worker Visa (AEWV) scheme, were announced by Minister of Immigration Erica Stanford on Sunday, with immediate effect.

Why Were Visa Regulations Changed?

Stanford emphasized the necessity of aligning immigration policies with economic rebuilding efforts, stating the government's focus on attracting and retaining highly skilled migrants, such as secondary teachers, to address existing skill shortages while prioritizing job opportunities for New Zealanders.

“Getting our immigration settings right is critical to this Government’s plan to rebuild the economy. The Government is focused on attracting and retaining 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,” she said.

What Are The New Changes?

In 2023, the country witnessed 173,000 non-New Zealand citizens migrating, prompting the need for stringent measures. The changes to the Accredited Employer Worker Visa scheme include the introduction of English language proficiency requirements, minimum skill prerequisites in the form of work experience or qualifications, and a reduction in the maximum continuous stay to three years for Accredited Employer Worker Visa holders.

English language requirements have been introduced for migrants applying for low-skilled level 4 and 5 roles, engagement with Work and Income for certain job categories, and the disestablishment of the franchisee accreditation category. Moreover, New Zealand has announced the closure of the Work to Residence pathway for bus and truck drivers due to resolved shortages in this sector. These changes mark a significant shift in immigration policies, signalling the government's commitment to managing migration flows effectively while safeguarding job opportunities for its citizens.

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