New Zealand Enforces Tighter Visa Regulations Due to High Migration Levels

By Thea Felicity

Apr 08, 2024 09:42 AM EDT

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks from a plane upon his arrival at the airport in Wellington on July 26, 2023.
(Photo : Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

In response to what it deems as "unsustainable" levels of migration, New Zealand's coalition government has revealed major adjustments to its visa regulations. 

According to The Guardian, immigration Minister Erica Stanford announced the reforms on Sunday, primarily targeting the accredited employer-worker visa (AEWV), introduced in 2022 to address post-pandemic workforce shortages. The move follows a surge in net migration to the country, reaching a near-record high in 2023, largely attributed to the introduction of a new temporary work visa post-pandemic.

Among the key amendments is the introduction of English-language prerequisites for low-skilled positions, alongside the establishment of minimum skill and work experience thresholds for most employer work visas. 

Additionally, the maximum continuous stay for low-skilled roles will be reduced from five years to three.

Stanford, however, ruled out highly skilled migrants, such as secondary teachers, in these new regulations. Doing so will help mitigate skill shortages while ensuring native New Zealanders are given precedence for jobs without such shortages.

READ NEXT: New Zealand to Ban Disposable Vapes, Hike Fines for Retailers Selling to Minors to Discourage Vaping Among Youth

Why Are High Immigration Levels "Alarming" in New Zealand?

New Zealand's rise in migrant numbers post-pandemic has sparked concerns of inflating the economy. However, a recent Reserve Bank-commissioned report failed to establish definitive links between migration levels and inflation.

Beyond economic concerns, Stanford stated that one of the important aspects of these reforms is safeguarding migrants from exploitation. A review conducted by the Public Service Commission earlier this year revealed instances of abuse within the AEWV scheme, prompting the government to take action to protect vulnerable migrants.

Meanwhile, neighboring Australia faces a similar migration surge. However, Australia's response differs, as it plans to reduce its migrant intake by half over the coming two years. 

New Zealand's decision to tighten visa requirements also starkly contrasts China's approach of loosening visa regulations to stimulate economic growth after the pandemic. China's strategy, as reported by VCPost, involves making it easier for people to obtain visas, likely aiming to attract more tourists, investors, and skilled workers.

READ MORE: China Eases Visa Requirements to Boost Tourism Amid Economic Slowdown

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