New Zealand has eased immigration rules to attract highly skilled workers following the pandemic.
Jacinda Ardern’s government said that it would lift restrictions from July 31, 2022, to ease the return of skilled workers in sectors including engineering, healthcare and tech.
Skilled migrants will also benefit from a faster and more streamlined route to permanent residency in New Zealand.
The federal government also announced that entry requirements would be eased for international students.
New Zealand reopened its borders two months ahead of the scheduled date, after harsh lockdowns and strict border restrictions were put in place as part of a “zero-Covid” strategy for more than two years.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the reopening of borders and easing of skilled migration rules would bring welcome news to New Zealand families, businesses and migrant communities.
She added that it would provide “certainty” ahead of the country’s peak tourism seasons.
The Prime Minister also announced a new “Green List” of 85 high-skilled roles that have been difficult to fill.
In addition, 20,000 work visas will also be extended, said the government.
Kiwi employers received further welcome news as it was announced that New Zealand businesses looking to hire skilled workers from overseas would be subjected to less bureaucracy, and the visa approval process will be streamlined.
New Zealand business groups welcomed the move, but also urged the federal government to develop a long-term immigration strategy for the best results on how to lure potential migrants to the country.
BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said the new announcements would not satisfy everybody, but provided much-need clarity for employers and showed that New Zealand was open again for business.
He also said New Zealand had shortages across all skill levels and lacked the population to meet the skills demand in the country.
New Zealand’s decision to ease restrictions came after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand increased interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to 1.5 per cent – the highest single increase in more than 20 years.
Shortly afterwards, New Zealand’s inflation for the year to March hit 6.9 per cent – the biggest rise in over three decades.
This prompted the Auckland Business Chamber to urge the federal government to ease immigration settings, so that New Zealand employers could recruit the necessary skills to meet demand and boost productivity and competitiveness.