In May last year, New Zealand’s Ardern Government vowed to end low-skilled, wage crushing migration via a “once-in-a generation” reset for New Zealand’s immigration system.
It flagged a significantly smaller migration intake post-Covid that focuses on highly skilled, highly paid and productive migrants that fill genuine skills shortages. This means abolishing the current low-skilled system, which has allowed businesses “to rely on lower-skilled labour and suppress wages rather than investing capital in productivity-enhancing plant and machinery, or employing and upskilling New Zealanders into work”.
In October, the Ardern Government began backsliding on its commitment, announcing that 165,000 permanent residency visas (representing 3.3% of New Zealand’s population) would be handed out like tic tacs.
There are 1597 words left in this subscriber-only article.
Get your first month for $1
Then a record number of residency and work visas were handed out in March:
The latest figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show 32,607 work visas were approved in March this year, up from 12,579 in February and 12,864 in March last year…
The previous record for any month of the year was 24,261 work visas approved in March 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit…
March was the third month in a row that residence visa approvals have hit a fresh high, rising from 3684 in December last year to 10,806 in January this year, 11,793 in February and 13,206 in March.
The previous record for residence visa approvals in any month of the year was 5121 in May 2016…
Instead of a ‘once-in-a-generation reset’, the Ardern Government yesterday announced a minor ‘rebalancing’ of New Zealand’s migration program, which will keep the doors wide open to wage crushing immigration [my emphasis]:
The changes, announced Wednesday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, include the introduction of a Green List of “highly skilled roles identified as being in high demand globally and in ongoing shortage in New Zealand.”
The Green List includes 44 occupations that allow eligible migrants to apply for work visas from July 4, and residence visas from September.
The occupations are mainly geared towards the construction, health care and IT industries and include roles such as civil engineers, surgeons and other medical practitioners, food technologists and software engineers.
The Green List also lists another 16 occupations which will allow migrants to enter the country on work visas and apply for residence visas after two years.
These include medical roles such as laboratory technicians, occupational therapists and registered nurses and other jobs such as secondary school teachers, electricians, mechanics and dairy farm managers.
The rules give migrants applying for jobs on either list a clear pathway to residence.
The partners of migrants in Green List occupations will also have open work rights…
The visa application process is also being streamlined to make it easier for employers to hire migrants for jobs on the Green List…
However migrants will still be able to apply for work visas for jobs that are not on the Green List.
In general, migrants filling non-Green List roles will need to be paid a minimum of $27.76 an hour (the median wage), which will be adjusted annually.
However there is a long list of exemptions to that rule, which will require a minimum wage of just $25 a hour, mainly in the tourism and hospitality sector.
A minimum wage of $25.39 will apply for migrants working in personal and disability care roles that do not require higher qualifications.
So basically, businesses will still be able to rort the system with low-wage migration through the regular channels. Business as usual.
The minimum wage thresholds are also a farce and will ensure endless wage crushing immigration that will embed New Zealand as a low-wage economy.
Seriously, how can median wages or below be construed as skilled? Why not set a wage floor well above the median wage to ensure that only high wage, high skilled migrants arrive? That would deliver a truly skilled system.
It’s not all bad, however, with the Ardern Government at least tightening work rights for student visas, which had been ruthlessly rorted:
Education Minister Chris Hipkins… announced a crackdown on the ability for sub-degree level students to work in New Zealand, and said the international education sector must rebuild with a focus on “genuine” students. He took aim at courses which he said acted as a “backdoor to residency” for international students…
Changes to the international education sector included limits on the ability for people on student visas to work in New Zealand after they graduated.
Students in non-degree level courses would no longer be able to work in New Zealand after graduating, Hipkins said, unless they applied to fill a skills gap.
For students completing undergraduate degrees, there would also be changes. Hipkins said they would only be able to work in New Zealand after finishing their degree for as long as they had been studying in New Zealand.
He said there had been cases of people staying in New Zealand to work for three years on student visas, after studying for just 30 weeks.
There would be no changes to the ability for post-graduate students to work in New Zealand for three years after completing their qualification.
Regardless, the much lauded “immigration reset” is merely a tinkering at the edges. The low-wage mass immigration policy remains.
The Ardern Government has a horrible knack for announcing one thing and then doing the opposite. This helps to explain why Kiwi voters have abandoned her. She is no longer trusted.
- Tumbling auction clearances signal steeper house price falls - May 12, 2022
- Teal candidates demand ‘warts and all’ anti-corruption commission - May 12, 2022
- Australian immigration swings back into negative - May 12, 2022