New Zealand tightens immigration rules in ‘Kiwi-first’ crackdown

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New Zealand said on Wednesday it will tighten access to its skilled work visas, just a day after the United States and neighbouring Australia announced similar restrictions on immigration.

New Zealand’s immigration minister said he was taking a “Kiwis-first approach to immigration”, echoing Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and U.S. President Donald Trump in announcing policies to ensure jobs for Australians and Americans.

Migration has become a hot topic in the lead up to New Zealand’s Sept. 23 general election.

“These changes are designed to strike the right balance … and encourage employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them,” immigration minister Michael Woodhouse said in a statement, using the colloquial term for New Zealand citizens.

The changes to be introduced later this year include introducing a minimum income requirement, making it more difficult for family members to join visa holders and limiting the amount of time seasonal workers are allowed to stay in New Zealand.

A boom in new arrivals has helped the New Zealand economy race along with some of the strongest gross domestic product growth in the developed world.

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