World

New Zealand also tightens work visa rules

WELLINGTON New Zealand said yesterday that it will tighten access to its skilled work visas, just a day after the United States and neighbouring Australia announced similar restrictions on immigration.

New Zealand's Immigration Minister said he was taking a "Kiwis-first approach to immigration", echoing Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and US President Donald Trump in announcing policies to ensure jobs for Australians and Americans.

Migration has become a hot topic in the lead-up to New Zealand's Sept 23 general election.

"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," Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said in a statement.

The changes to be introduced later this year include an income requirement, making it tougher for family members to join visa-holders and limiting the amount of time seasonal workers are allowed to stay in New Zealand.

A boom in new arrivals has helped the New Zealand economy race along with some of the strongest gross domestic product growth in the developed world.

But opposition parties and the central bank have called for a review of policies, citing low wage growth and soaring house prices spurred by the influx.

Many sectors, such as technology and construction, suffer from a shortage of workers.

Under the changes, bosses must provide a minimum wage of NZ$49,000 (S$48,100) for anyone on a prioritised skilled visa. Anyone earning more than NZ$73,000 will be classed as 'highly skilled'. - REUTERS

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