New Zealand announced on Wednesday tougher requirements for skilled overseas workers as it tries to control immigration numbers that have reached an all-time high.
The changes come a day after Australia said it would scrap a temporary visa for skilled overseas workers and after US President Donald Trump signed an order he said should help American workers whose jobs were threatened by skilled immigrants.
New Zealand’s immigration minister Michael Woodhouse said the government was unapologetic that industries relying on overseas workers were finding it harder to recruit people from abroad. “We are absolutely committed to the principle of Kiwis first.“
The changes include new income thresholds. To qualify as skilled, immigrants will need to get a job in which they earn at least the median income. To qualify as highly skilled, they will need to earn at least 150% of the median income. Other changes include a new three-year limit for workers with lower skills. Woodhouse said the changes would control the number and improve the quality of immigrants.
It is the second time NZ has tightened its immigration rules in the past six months. In the year ending in February , net immigration reached a record 71,300 people, equivalent to 1.5% of New Zealand’s total population of 4.8 million people. The largest numbers of new migrants to New Zealand are coming from China, India and the UK. The nation’s median annual wage is $34,400.