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New Zealand tightens visa rules in response to ‘unsustainable’ migration

By Catherine Nicholls, CNN

(CNN) — New Zealand announced it has tightened its visa rules, introducing language and skill criteria and shortening work permit lengths in response to “unsustainable net migration.”

The changes to the Accredited Employer Worker Visa (AEWV) scheme have gone into immediate effect, and will mean that New Zealand is “better testing the local labor market and reducing the risks of putting New Zealanders out of work,” the country’s Minister of Immigration, Erica Stanford, announced on Sunday.

In 2023, 173,000 non-New Zealand citizens migrated to the country, the statement said.

While there are still skill shortages in areas such as education, Stanford said, “at the same time, we need to ensure that New Zealanders are put to the front of the line for jobs where there are no skills shortages.”

Changes to the AEWV scheme include introducing a minimum standard of English, a new minimum skill requirement in the form of work experience or qualifications, and shortening the maximum continuous stay on an AEWV to three years.

Employers will need to make sure that migrants meet these requirements before hiring them, and will be required to declare that no “suitable and available New Zealander” applied for a job before it is offered to a migrant. They must also advertise job postings for at least 21 days and declare “why any New Zealanders who applied were not hired,” according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Some roles in the transport and care sectors will be exempt from these requirements, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website says.

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