Govt proposes tightening work-visa rules

3:44 pm on 19 April 2017

Low-skilled migrants will only be able to stay in New Zealand for a maximum of three years, under new proposed immigration rules.

Immigration to New Zealand.

Photo: RNZ

They would then need to go through a stand-down period before being eligible for another work visa.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced a range of changes this morning in Queenstown aimed at controlling immigration numbers.

The proposals further tighten the rules after the government shut the parent migration category last year.

Other changes included requiring people earn nearly $50,000 a year to qualify as high-skilled migrants.

Partners and children would no longer be allowed entry automatically and get work and student visas, but instead would enter the country as visitors and would need to meet visa requirements in their own right.

Seasonal occupations would have visas issued for the duration of the season, rather than for 12 months as is presently the case.

Mr Woodhouse said the changes were a challenge to employers to take on more New Zealanders and invest in their training.

"We have always said that we constantly review our immigration policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and today's announcement is another example of this government's responsible, pragmatic approach to managing immigration."

The government has also introduced a special category allowing around 4000 South Island temporary migrants a pathway to residence.

Eligible migrants would be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which would make them eligible for residence in two more years provided they stayed in the same industry and region.

The announcement followed changes Australia made this week to its own skilled-migrant visas.

Public consultation on the changes close on 21 May.