16 Mar 2009

Work permit criteria being tightened, says lawyer

8:26 pm on 16 March 2009

There are signs that tougher economic times have reduced the number of work permits issued to immigrants.

Wellington immigration lawyer Richard Small says he has noticed a tightening in the number of work permits issued under the essential skills work policy.

The policy, introduced in July last year, allows employers from occupations suffering from a skill shortage to recruit from overseas, providing the job cannot be filled by New Zealanders.

Mr Small says the criteria has become increasingly stringent, reflecting the larger number of semi-skilled workers who are looking for work in New Zealand.

In the past there had been some leniency over giving work permits to semi-skilled people, he says, but the discretion for an employer to make a case for that to happen has been tightened.

Australia cuts immigration

The Australian government is to reduce its intake of skilled migrants in an effort to preserve jobs during the global financial crisis. The federal government will slash the skilled migration programme by 14%, or 18,500 jobs, over the next three years.

New Zealand's Minister of Immigration, Jonathan Coleman says this country has not made any similar moves at this stage, but the Government is monitoring the situation.