23 September 2010

New Zealand immigration looks to fast-track certain visas to help earthquake recovery

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Immigration New Zealand is reviewing its skills-shortage lists to consider whether rules could be relaxed to allow more overseas construction workers into the country to aid in the recovery and rebuild after the Canterbury earthquake.

New Zealand Visa

New Zealand Immigration has fast-tracked 14 New Zealand Visas for workers needed for quake recovery.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson approved three-month New Zealand Visas last month for 14 building assessors from South Africa and Canada to assist with quake recovery.

Ms Wilkinson said she would continue to fast-track visas, and there is a possibly some workers could be given a New Zealand Visa that allows them to stay in the country for up to two years.

Officials have been quick to reassure that any decision to relax New Zealand immigration rules would still put New Zealand workers first.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said a shortage of tradespeople had been identified as an issue in the city's economic recovery.

Mr Parker said more employment in Canterbury and New Zealand for locals would be the first option, but the region should be prepared to bring in overseas workers if required.

Construction jobs on the immediate skills-shortage list include building surveyors and construction foreman, and there are six construction occupations on the long-term skills-shortage list, mostly in surveying and management roles.

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