A 50 per cent hike in the minimum salary migrant workers can earn in the UK, could make it a whole lot harder for many Kiwis to stay there.
Changes announced earlier this month, to the Tier 2 general visas, would see employers charged a yearly $2000 levy to employ immigrant workers from April next year.
Those “experienced” workers would require employment that pays a minimum salary of $52,000 by autumn, rising to $63,000 by April next year.
That was up from the current minimum of about $43,600, which still stands for new entrant migrants.
Some health and education professionals would have a longer grace period; exempt from a higher threshold until July 2019.
But the majority of New Zealanders travelling to Britain, were not expected to be affected by the latest changes.
In 2015, about 150,000 Kiwis visited the UK with only 600 falling under the Tier 2 visa category.
British High Commissioner to New Zealand Jonathan Sinclair said the British Government had taken steps to improve access for young Kiwis.
“New Zealanders (18-30 years old) on the Youth Mobility Scheme can work for two years in the UK, up from one year last decade.
“We have increased the number of places on that scheme to 12,000 a year. Anyone on this scheme is unaffected by the recent changes.”
Last year, about 4000 New Zealanders entered the UK under that scheme. New Zealanders travelling to the UK for fewer than six months do not require a visa.
The changes are not unexpected, as Britain grapples with an immigration crisis that, according to the latest figures from the UK Statistics Authority, saw more than 1.6 million migrants from within the EU alone moved there in the past nine years.
Sinclair said the purpose of some of the changes was to incentivise UK employers to invest in training their resident workforce and reduce reliance on migrant labour.
“The UK benefits from immigration and is open for business. Migrant workers fill skills gap and help boost our economy, but it is right that UK employers look first to the resident workforce.
“At the same time, the government runs many routes for New Zealanders to visit, study or work in the UK. Along with Australia and Canada, New Zealand has more visa and non-visa routes than any country into the UK outside the EU,” he said.