‘Kiwi-first’ Immigration Crackdown

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New Zealand’s immigration minister Michael Woodhouse recently announced New Zealand will tighten access to skilled work visas. This announcement follows the United States and Australia both announcing similar immigration restrictions.

Woodhouse said this was a “Kiwis-first approach to immigration”; a similar statement to those made by US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

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Image: sbs.com.au

“These changes are designed to strike the right balance … and encourage employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them,” Woodhouse said in a statement. Immigration is a hot-button issue in the upcoming general election on 23 September.

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The changes which will come into force later this year will introduce a minimum income requirement. They will also limit the amount of time seasonal workers can stay in the country. This will make it more difficult for family members to join visa holders.

Immigration has helped strengthen New Zealand’s GDP growth in the last few years. However, opposition parties and the Reserve Bank have questioned the current immigration policy and have called for a review. Opposition parties have long said the immigration boom has been caused partly by low wage growth. They said this is a contributing factor to New Zealand’s soaring house prices.

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Some sectors including technology and construction suffer severe worker shortages. This results in companies in these areas recruiting offshore, contributing to growing immigration demands.

Turnbull recently warned businesses to ‘Prioritise Australian workers’ in an announcement, saying businesses who don’t make an effort to hire Australian workers first will be named and shamed.