Government tinkers with immigration rules


Low-skilled jobs for immigrants in Queenstown are being streamlined by the government.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced a new labour market test process for employers in the district last night.

The changes come into effect tomorrow.

The ministers said the streamlined process will help employers trying to fill low-skilled vacancies in the district.

The changes replace a temporary labour market test exemption – put in place at the end of last year – which expires today.

The latest changes enable employers with a low-skilled vacancy to receive formal advice from Work and Income before lodging a migrant worker visa application, rather than Immigration New Zealand contacting Work and Income after the application has been lodged.

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay says Work and Income will refer any suitable New Zealanders to the employer for consideration and employers will have access to an updated list of jobs where advice is not required, because Work and Income has no jobseekers available to fill the position.

Tolley says the new process will look after the interests of New Zealanders and provide more certainty for employers and migrants because they will know sooner if a work visa application is likely to succeed.

“New Zealanders will always be first in line for jobs, but we recognise that for certain roles which are hard to fill, employers want to bring in migrant workers and this new system provides a quicker and more effective solution for them.”

Woodhouse says by introducing the changes the government is acknowledging the unique circumstances faced by employers in the area, particularly tourism operators, in a period of exceptionally strong growth.

“Officials will also continue to monitor how immigration policies are working for Queenstown employers, in the context of wider work under way in the tourism sector to address labour and skills needs in the long term.”

Barclay says the announcement is a win for employers in the region.

“Queenstown employers face difficult circumstances where the supply of Kiwi workers is nowhere near the requirements needed to service the town. These changes will go a long way in alleviating that pressure,” he says.

Otago Daily Times