Government backdown on immigration changes

  • 27/07/2017
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced the Government is softening its crackdown on immigration.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced the Government is softening its crackdown on immigration.

The Government has relaxed remuneration bands separating low and mid-skilled workers after consultation with businesses found their original plans were too strict.

There were 170 submissions on the Government's planned changes to temporary work visas, prompting a rethink on how skilled migrants are identified under visa requirements.

Under a plan announced in April the Government proposed changes meaning migrants would only count as "skilled" if the job they were coming for paid more than about $49,000 a year.

But that figure has been relaxed to a little over $41,000 a year following consultation, or around 85 per cent of the New Zealand median income.

"The new mid-skilled remuneration band recognises the fact that these workers are filling genuine skill shortages and are more likely to progress with further skills acquisition or work experience," Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said, announcing the changes on Thursday.

Consultation with businesses also identified what Mr Woodhouse called a misunderstanding around what the changes mean for the ability of employers to access lower-skilled workers.

He said the changes would provide clarity to employers around the conditions 
under which they could employ temporary migrant workers, rather than seeking to reduce the number.

Other changes, including a maximum three-year-visa duration for lower-skilled workers, a minimum stand-down period between visas and a requirement for partners and children of lower-skilled visa holder to meet requirements in their own right remain unchanged.

Temporary work visa conditions will be introduced on August 28, while additional issues will be addressed in phase two, Mr Woodhouse said.

That includes concerns around a lack of classification for some jobs under current Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation guidelines.

Labour leader Andrew Little earlier this week labelled the Government's plans to loosen their proposals a "backflip" on an initial knee-jerk reaction plan.

Here are the new remuneration bands:

  • Low-skilled - earning below $41,538 a year
  • Mid-skilled - earning between $41,538 and $73,299 in an ANZSCO level 1-3 job
  • High-skilled - earning $73,299 regardless of occupation