New Zealand’s government has announced a ‘once-in-a-generation’ reset of the country’s existing immigration system.
NZ Tourism Minister Stuart Nash – filling in for Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, who was feeling unwell – announced the planned reform of New Zealand’s immigration system in a speech.
Mr Nash said that as New Zealand moves into a post-Covid world, the country’s immigration system will be more focused towards high-skill migrants and move away from relying on migrants having lower skill levels.
He also said that a key focus of the immigration program reset would fall on the skilled migrant category, temporary workers and partners’ working rights as the country works to move away from the pre-Covid status quo.
Mr Nash said that over the years, an increasing population growth has piled pressure on New Zealand’s housing and infrastructure, which has convinced the government that now is the right time to introduce the immigration program reset.
According to him, the government would now strengthen employer requirements and labour market tests in order to get ahead of population growth.
He went on to explain that these measures would also ensure that temporary workers get recruited only for genuine job shortages in New Zealand.
Mr Nash also said that despite new measures being taken to overhaul temporary migration to NZ, the Government remained committed to improving the experience of temporary migrant workers in the country.
He said that the exploitation of temporary migrants to New Zealand, such as paying them less than the average wage or making them work for excessive hours, was unacceptable and affected everyone in the country, as well as New Zealand’s reputation as a great place to work, live in and conduct businesses.
Mr Nash also went on to say that migrants have and always will play an important role in NZ society, and explained that high migration levels contributed to a 30 per cent population growth in the early 1990s.
Moreover, Mr Nash said that temporary work visa holders comprise of almost 5 per cent of New Zealand’s total labour force – the highest compared to other OECD countries.
In addition to the skilled migrant category being reviewed, New Zealand will also introduce new border exemptions to facilitate the arrival of 200 high-value investors in the country in the next year.
By being allowed to travel to New Zealand, significant investors can look at the country’s industries to determine if they want to invest and lift industry standards, as well as encourage innovation and improvements.