23 Jan 2014

Employers urge change to visa rules

8:30 pm on 23 January 2014

Employers are complaining they are struggling to retain skilled staff hired from overseas.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association says a survey of 518 employers revealed that problems with immigration were ranked the third biggest issue they were facing.

It says employers prefer to hire locally when they can, but sometimes workers with the skills they need can only be found overseas.

Spokesperson David Lowe says many employers are forced to look overseas for staff, but end up losing those workers after their year-long visas expire.

"When they go to review their visa, it's declined. Both the migrant family and the employer have only really just got their feet under the table and that's very frustrating for everybody."

Mr Lowe says visas should be extended to between three and five years.

But Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says changes are not needed.

"For those skills that are in genuine shortage, it is possible to get visas for up to that period of time, particularly where the recent migrants are on a pathway to residence."

Mr Woodhouse says the Government is making the visa application system simpler by moving it online.