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Changes to Immigration rules good for Agriculture

Changes to Immigration rules good for Agriculture

Enhancements to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) announced this week are of direct benefit to the agriculture sector, says Associate Immigration and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

The changes, announced by Immigration Minister Paul Swain on Wednesday, make the SMC more responsive and flexible to labour market needs in all sectors.

"I'm particularly pleased with the changes that will help the agricultural sector," Mr O'Connor said. "We've been aware for some time that the sector is experiencing skills and labour shortages like the rest of the economy, and this move will help address this."

One of the problems in the past had been that farm managers were not readily considered skilled under the policy, he said. This meant prospective migrants wishing to work in farming in New Zealand could not attract enough points under the SMC to gain residence.

As a result of this week's changes, farm managers, for example, will be assessed upfront under the "manager" grouping of skilled employment.

This will enable points to be gained for having skilled employment, and will assist the ability to gain skilled residence.

In addition, the Immigration Service is meeting with Federated Farmers to start working through the detail of applying the changes in rural sector immigration rules.

"The enhancements relating to the rural sector recognise that there are growing skills shortages. The enhancements are a big step forward in addressing these," Mr O'Connor said.

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