Significant changes to employer-assisted work visas announced

Immigration Minister Iain Less-Galloway has announced significant changes to New Zealand’s employer-assisted work visa framework this afternoon. These changes will affect the way employers recruit migrants for temporary work in New Zealand. Introduced in stages, the changes will be fully implemented by 2021.

The key changes include:

  • Developing a new employer-led visa application process (instead of an employee-led process). This will involve three stages: the employer check (requiring employers to become accredited with Immigration New Zealand), the job check, and the work check.
  • Introducing a new ‘Temporary Work Visa’. This will replace 6 existing work visas (including essential skills work visas).
  • Using the level of pay to categorise a job. The existing skill bands (which rely on a combination of level of pay and categorising the job under the ANZSCO) will be replaced with a simple remuneration threshold aligned to the median wage.
  • Strengthening the labour market test for low-paid jobs with open access for high-paid jobs in rural regions and lists in different cities.
  • Introducing sector agreements to facilitate access to migrants for targeted sectors.
  • Reinstating the right for low-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand on visitor visas.

The first set of changes will take place on 7 October 2019, but will only affect Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visas. The changes to this visa include:

  • Increasing the minimum annual salary requirement from NZ$55,000 to NZ$79,560.
  • Removing the option of obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa if you apply for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa.
  • Limiting the amount of time employers can be accredited, before needing to reapply, to 24 months.

The above changes are still in the process of being finalised, so there is a lot of detail that is not yet available. This includes information about fees, processing times and evidence that employers and migrants will have to provide in support of their applications.

We will provide further updates as this information comes to hand. Alternatively, you can subscribe to updates from Immigration New Zealand here.

If you would like any further information regarding the above, please let us know.

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