Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a one-off pathway to residence for around 4,000 long-term temporary migrant workers and their families living in the South Island.
“There has been a significant growth in the number of lower-skilled temporary migrants in the South Island who help fill genuine labour shortages and have become well-settled here,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“However, due to current temporary migration settings, many of these lower-skilled temporary migrants have no pathway to residence.
“Today’s announcement delivers on our 2015 commitment to provide that group of migrants in the South Island with a pathway to residence.
“The policy will allow eligible migrants to be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which would make them eligible for residence in two more years provided they stay 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.
“It will also enable employers to retain an experienced workforce that has helped meet genuine regional labour market needs.
“My National colleagues in the South Island have advocated strongly on behalf their constituents throughout the development of this policy, so I’m pleased the Government has been able to deliver on our commitment to enable this cohort of migrant workers to remain in their communities.”
To be eligible, temporary visa holders must:
· Currently be on an Essential Skills visa for a job in the South Island and have been on one in the South Island for five years or more.
· Be 55 years old or younger
· Hold current employment that is full-time and meets market rates and their employers would need to have no significant adverse record with the Labour Inspectorate or INZ.
· Meet standard residence health and character requirements.
For more information, visit www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/south-island-pathway.
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Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a package of changes designed to better manage immigration and improve the long-term labour market contribution of temporary and permanent migration.
“The Government is committed to ensuring inward migration best supports the economy and the labour market,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“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.
“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 New Zealand.”
Changes to permanent immigration settings include introducing two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), which will complement the current qualifications and occupation framework.
“One remuneration threshold will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The SMC points table, under which individuals claim points towards their residence application, will also be realigned to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.
“Collectively these changes will improve the skill composition of the SMC and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand.”
The Government is also proposing a number of changes to temporary migration settings to manage the number and settlement expectations of new migrants coming to New Zealand on Essential Skills work visas.
The changes include:
· The introduction of remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder, which would align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for Skilled Migrant Category applicants.
· The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled and lower-paid Essential Skills visa holders, after which a minimum stand down period will apply before they are eligible for another lower-skilled temporary work visa.
· Aligning the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand with the new skill levels.
· Exploring which occupations have a seasonal nature and ensuring that the length of the visa aligns with peak labour demand.
“I want to make it clear that where there are genuine labour or skills shortages, employers will be able to continue to use migrant labour to fill those jobs,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“However, the Government has a Kiwis first approach to immigration and these changes are designed to strike the right balance between reinforcing the temporary nature of Essential Skills work visas and encouraging employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them.
“We have always said that we constantly review our immigration policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and today’s announcement is another example of this Government’s responsible, pragmatic approach to managing immigration.”
Public consultation on the changes to temporary migration settings closes on 21 May, with implementation planned for later this year.
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