Chlöe Swarbrick, David Seymour debate immigration shake-up

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick says the Government’s announcement it is tightening visa rules for low-skilled workers is "concerning". 

Under the new policies, migrants would need to secure higher ratings on English tests and most Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEVW) applicants would have to meet minimum skills requirements.  

Swarbrick said there's little evidence or data on whether the tightened English language requirement would help avoid exploitation. 

"The single biggest thing we can do to fix our immigration system, and to reduce migrant exploitation, is to de-couple work visas from single employers so that migrants have bargaining power," she said on AM.

"The other thing that is a little bit concerning in the criteria around this announcement… was the reduction in how long migrants on level 4 and 5 can stay, reducing that from five years to approximately three years

"If we are talking about migrants coming into this country, putting down roots, and investing in it - and then getting on a job pathway and being part of this country then we need to stop this revolving door type of approach we presently have."  

She said it results in "losing those skills and people". 

When asked if the English language rule is justified, Seymour said the new requirements are needed to "have immigration that works in New Zealand".  

He described the previous Government's policy as an "absolute disaster". 

"The level of migrant exploitation that we've heard about is barely touching the sides". 

He said the previous Government was "bringing people in who had almost no skills". 

"They were level 5 on the skills matrix. They had very little English language skill, very little ability to access the justice system, make complaints, stand up for themselves in New Zealand society". 

"There's now tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in that situation." 

He said the previous Government "needs to take some responsibility" for that situation.

"If we are going to have immigration that works for New Zealand, we need to balance out the demand for infrastructure, balance out the need for employers to get the skills so that they can grow their businesses, export and earn a dollar, and that's what this Government is doing". 

The full changes include:  

  • Introducing an English language requirement for migrants applying for low skilled level 4 and 5 roles 
  • A minimum skills and work experience threshold for most AEWV roles  
  • For roles that fall into the level 4 and 5, employers will need to engage with Work and Income before approval to bring in migrants will be granted  
  • Reducing the maximum continuous stay for most level 4 and 5 roles from five years to three years  
  • The franchisee accreditation category will be disestablished and these businesses will be to apply to bring in workers from overseas through the standard, high-volume or triangular employment accreditation. 

Watch the full interview above for more.