Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

UK levy may close door on jobs for Kiwis

Kiwis hoping to work in London may be hit by a new immigration levy that is being proposed.
Kiwis hoping to work in London may be hit by a new immigration levy that is being proposed.

Kiwis hoping to snap up a job in the UK could be dealt a further blow after a proposal to introduce a new £1000 ($2205) a year immigration skills levy looks set to be implemented.

If introduced the new law would see firms who employ skilled non-European Union migrants charged £1000 per worker they recruit outside of Europe per year.

The recommendation was part of a package from the UK Government's migration advisory committee, under a new crackdown ordered by UK Home Secretary Theresa May, reported the Guardian.

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New Zealanders could be kicked out of UK if they don't earn £35,000

Kiwis concerned over proposed UK immigration policy

It's the latest policy squeeze on migrants to the UK that could affect New Zealanders, coming just days after the announcement of a strict new law which will see all migrants from outside the EU earning less than £35,000 a year prevented from staying in the UK for longer than five years.

The skilled migrant levy is estimated to cut the flow of skilled non-EU workers by 20 per cent a year, or 27,600 people, the Guardian reported, and could hit the recruitment of overseas nurses and teachers the hardest.

The British Government's labour market experts claim most skilled migrants from outside Europe bring little in the way of new skills and are paid more than their British counterparts, the newspaper reported. However, some jobs, such as doctors, nurses and teachers, typically earn less than their UK peers, by as must as £6000 per year.

The proposal came with a recommendation to include a rise in the minimum salary threshold for jobs filled from overseas, jumping from £20,800 to £30,000.

Meanwhile, the Government will continue to lobby UK ministers over the impact of the strict £35,000 earnings policy and the impact it will have on Kiwi workers when it comes into effect in April.

An online petition against the policy change is garnering big support among Britons with about 77,000 people signing within six days.

A number of people living in the UK have emailed the Herald , worried they may now be kicked out of the country as their current salary does not meet the threshold. Some have been living there since the 80s.

Immigration officials were in conversation with their British counterparts on working arrangements for expat Kiwis, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Murray McCully said.

However, the spokesman said he did not think many New Zealanders would be impacted as most were working in the UK on two-year Youth Mobility Scheme or on ancestry visas.

Others held skilled work permits and likely to be earning above the income threshold.

There are about 200,000 New Zealanders living in the UK. Since 2010 Kiwis need a job and a sponsoring employer to gain a skilled migrant visa.

- NZ Herald

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