Skilled Migrant Category in the time of Covid-19

During Levels 4 and 3 of New Zealand’s lockdown earlier this year, New Zealand businesses were encouraged to work from home if possible. We saw many companies develop new strategies and improve their systems. At Pitt & Moore Lawyers, we established a virtual office that kept us together but apart, working online and via phone to successfully continue delivering the service and solutions that our clients have come to expect.

Unfortunately, the same successes can’t be claimed by Immigration New Zealand. Throughout Levels 4 and 3 during March to May this year, a significant number of INZ staff couldn’t work from home. While visa applications and expressions of interest continued to come through, there were significant difficulties in processing applications, especially when it came to hard copy applications. Work by Immigration New Zealand almost ground to a halt.

While Auckland is again in the midst of Alert Level 3, this time Immigration New Zealand’s operations don’t appear to be as badly crippled, but further delays have crept in which is not good news for visa applicants.

Unprecedented delays

The lockdown and virtual closure of Immigration New Zealand during March to May this year, exacerbated an already massive backlog of skilled migrant category (SMC) residence applications. In November 2019, there were over 10,000 migrants who had submitted their SMC residence applications and were waiting for news from Immigration New Zealand. With seriously hampered processing ability and more applications still coming in throughout the initial lockdown period, that number quickly ballooned. Today, the figure is around 13,000.

We understand that Immigration New Zealand are currently allocating SMC applications to Immigration Officers for assessment that were lodged during January 2019. As a result, it appears on average it is now taking nearly 18 months for an SMC residence application to be allocated for assessment and up to 2 years for a decision to be made. This is an all-time high delay for the SMC category in New Zealand!

Many migrants who have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19 and who have already submitted their SMC applications, may lose their opportunity to gain residence due to the processing delays.

Sadly, we can’t see this situation improving any time soon until perhaps Immigration New Zealand dedicates additional staff resources to address the SMC backlog.

A hold on the selection of Expressions of Interest

One of Immigration New Zealand’s responses to Covid-19 was to indefinitely suspend selection of Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from the EOI pool. This decision means that no new SMC applications can be lodged at this time.

Immigration New Zealand’s decision to stop selection is problematic for a number of reasons, least of all that EOIs are normally valid for 6 month from the date of initial submission, or until there is a further draw. Immigration New Zealand has not advised that it will reimburse EOI lodgement fees, nor have they given any indication as to when the selection process will recommence.

Another ramification of suspending selection of EOIs is that the exception to the labour market test for migrants who have been invited by Immigration New Zealand to submit their SMC applications, when lodging a new Essential Skills Work Visa application is not currently available. This means skilled migrants’ employers, who otherwise might not have had to prove there are no New Zealanders who can do their job when applying for an Essential Skills Work Visa, would need satisfy that test.

Whilst it is appropriate that New Zealanders are employed ahead of migrants, the migrant protection was put in place in recognition of the need to retain skilled migrants to maximise the level of skilled employees in the national workforce and to provide individual employers with certainty and continuity around their specific workforce.

Long term ramifications for New Zealand

The recent overhaul of Essential Skills Work Visa, which we have addressed in a separate article (go to https://www.pittandmoore.co.nz/publications/overhaul-of-essential-skills-work-visa-category/) is going to create continual uncertainty for migrant workers.

Skilled migrants may be forced to leave New Zealand, particularly if they don’t see a timely pathway to residence. Where does that leave New Zealand?

Given the large number of SMC applications in the queue, I contend that this is a strong indication of the level of skill shortage in the country at the moment.

Sure, there may now be New Zealanders who have been laid off or have returned to New Zealand who could now fill some of those roles, but to think that we do not still need large numbers of skilled migrants in our workforce is short-sighted.

And what happens when the domestic economy picks up and employers start to recruit for positions that were lost? Who will fill the roles that will be created to ensure that upswing? And what about when foreign economies pick up and those Kiwis who returned prematurely to New Zealand head back overseas?

If we don’t retain skilled migrants, then that may impact recovery of our economy.

Skilled migrants are a major part of that economic recovery. If we lose skilled migrants – doctors and nurses, engineers and electricians, bakers, butchers and the like, those with recognised qualifications and years’ experience – then, when the economy picks back up, they may not be eager to come back if we have treated them poorly in the short-term.

Covid-19 and its impact on our country make for an awkward situation, one that bridges public health, the economy, our communities and the world at large. But it’s also prompted some important dialogue regarding how the knee-jerk reactions of Immigration New Zealand are going to affect us long-term.

Talk to us

If you have any questions about the Skilled Migrant Category or need immigration advice or assistance with your current circumstances, please contact Mike McMellon on 03 548 8349 or Mike.McMellon@pittandmoore.co.nz.

Overhaul of Essential Skills Work Visa Category

From Monday, 27 July 2020 Immigration New Zealand (‘INZ’) will be using different rules to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications. The new rules will only apply to new visa application lodged on or after 27 July 2020.

Existing visa application submitted to INZ prior to 27 July 2020 will be assessed on the basis of prior immigration instructions.

What has changed?

The existing Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (‘ANZSCO’) skill bands have been replaced with a simple wage threshold to determine:

    • visa conditions

    • maximum visa duration

    • Labour Market Test requirements

    • ability to support partner’s and dependent children’s visas

Make no mistake, INZ will still be considering ANZSCO to determine the market rate as well as the level of qualifications and/or experience required for the role on offer. This is to ensure that the applicant who is being supported is paid at the market rate and holds appropriate qualifications and experience required for a particular role.

Appendix 7 to the INZ Operational Manual includes a list of occupations that can be treated as an exception to certain skill level assessments for Skilled Migrant Category (‘SMC’) residence policy. From 27 July 2020 this list will not be used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications.

The ANZSCO will still be used in assessment of SMC applications. No changes have been made to the SMC rules at this stage.

Remuneration and median wage

Applicants who are paid below the median wage, currently $25.50 per hour, will need to meet more stringent requirements to be eligible for an Essential Skills Work Visa.

Overview of the new rules

If paid below $25.50 per hour

  • Employers will need to engage with the Ministry of Social Development and obtain a Skills Match Report

  • Employers will also need to advertise the role and consider New Zealanders

  • Maximum duration for each visa will be 6 months for the next 18 months (i.e. during the period of 10 July 2020 to 10 January 2022)

  • Maximum combined duration of all work visas in jobs paying below the median wage is 3 years at which time holders of this visa will be subject to a stand down period of 12 months.

  • Support visitor visas for partners (partners can apply for a work visa in their own right)

  • Support visitor or student visas for dependent children (subject to meeting the minimum income threshold)

If paid at or above $25.50 per hour

  • Employers will need to advertise the role and consider New Zealanders

  • Skills Match Report not required

  • Maximum duration of each visa is 3 years

  • No maximum combined duration – not subject to stand down

  • Support visitor or work visas for partners

  • Support visitor or student visas for dependent children (subject to meeting minimum income threshold)

Get professional advice

We highly recommend for temporary visa holders who currently hold or want to apply for a Essential Skills Work Visa, to get in touch with us early so we can expertly guide you through your and your family’s options for remaining in New Zealand.

How Pitt & Moore can help

We offer an initial free consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.

What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process. This means that we can advise on all immigration and visa related issues.

Talk to us

We don’t just advise on the visa requirements, we can ensure that you receive comprehensive legal advice on to all aspects applicable to your particular circumstances, including compliance and employment

Contact our Immigration Team for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.

Update to Insolvency Laws

The Government has recently passed temporary legislation to help companies facing cashflow difficulties due to COVID-19. There are new protections for directors from normal solvency related duties and businesses can place certain debts into ‘hibernation’ while continuing to trade. These supplement the more traditional options available to businesses facing solvency issues.

Directors Duties

Directors are usually subject to the following duties under the Companies Act 1993:

  • Reckless Trading: A director must not agree to the business of the company being carried on in a manner likely to create a substantial risk of serious loss to the company’s creditors.

  • Duty in relation to obligations: A director must not allow the business incurring an obligation unless the director believes on reasonable grounds that the company will be able to perform the obligation when it is required to do so.

In the normal course of events, directors who are found to have breached those duties can face personal liability. To protect directors from such claims between 3 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 (this may be extended), directors may rely on “safe harbour” provisions where:

1. in the good faith opinion of the directors, the company is facing or is likely to face significant liquidity problems in the next six months as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the company, its debtors or its creditors;

2. the company was able to pay its debts as they fell due on 31 December 2019 (or was first incorporated between 1 January 2020 and 25 March 2020); and

3. the directors consider in good faith that it is more likely than not that the company will be able to pay its debts as they fall due by 30 September 2021.

These provisions may assist directors to carry more risk than they may otherwise be comfortable with – thereby preventing them putting an otherwise viable company into liquidation. However, it is more important than ever that directors have accurate and current financial information, both for past performance and future projections. We note that there are no changes to director’s duties to act in good faith and to exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonable director would exercise in the same circumstances.

Business Debt Hibernation

The temporary Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) regime creates another option to help businesses keep trading, despite cashflow pressures. The BDH scheme puts a one month freeze on the enforcement of debts during the proposal process. A further six months ‘hibernation’ will be available if the proposal is passed.

A process will need to be followed to put a BDH scheme in place; it is not automatic. The business will need to meet a certain threshold, put a proposal to their creditors and obtain agreement from 50% (by number and value) of those creditors within a month.

While an entity is in BDH, it will be able to continue to trade, subject to any restrictions agreed with creditors. Certain debts cannot be hibernated, including debts to the IRD and employment related debts and (for the six months) certain secured creditors. Otherwise, BDH will apply to all creditors regardless of whether they voted for the proposal or not.

To encourage businesses to continue to transact, new payments or dispositions of property are exempt from the voidable transactions regime (unless it is to a related party) while a business is in BDH. However, transactions will still need to be entered into in good faith by both parties, on arm’s length terms and without intent to deprive existing creditors of the company.

Many businesses will be eligible for BDH, including companies, trusts and partnerships. However, sole traders, licensed insurers, registered banks and non-bank deposit takers are exempt.

For Further Advice

Due to the complexity in the legislation, and their novelty, obtaining legal advice before relying on these announcements is crucial. This is not a situation where DIY is appropriate; failure to comply can have a significant impact (e.g. there are a number of areas where a director placing a business in BDH can inadvertently commit an offence by not following the specific steps required).

Additionally, while this legislation is new, solvency issues aren’t. There are other options available, which may provide a better long term solution for you and your creditors. Tailored advice will identify the best option for your situation.

How Pitt & Moore Lawyers can help

Pitt & Moore Lawyers can provide tailored advice and assist businesses worried about solvency issues.

Talk to us

For professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind contact either Geoff Caradus or Anissa Bain.

Is Your Business Facing Solvency Issues Due to COVID-19?

The Government has announced new legislation is coming to help companies facing cashflow or administrative difficulties due to COVID-19.

These include:

  • Giving directors of companies who face cashflow issues due to COVID-19 certain “safe harbour” protections from normal solvency-related duties;

  • Enabling businesses affected by COVID-19 to place existing debts into hibernation yet continue trading;

  • Allowing greater use of electronic signatures;

  • Permitting normal legislated deadlines for companies, incorporated societies, charitable trusts and other entities to be extended temporarily by the Registrar of Companies; and

  • Granting temporary relief for entities unable to comply with requirements in their constitutions and rules because of COVID-19.

We note that the Government still needs to receive Parliament’s agreement to these changes, and for the changes to apply retrospectively to the date of the Government’s announcement (being 3 April 2020).

Directors Duties

Directors are usually subject to the following duties under sections 135 and 136 of the Companies Act 1993 (the Act):

  • s 135 (Reckless Trading) A director must not agree to the business of the company being carried on in a manner likely to create a substantial risk of serious loss to the company’s creditors.

  • s 136 (Duty in relation to obligations) A director must not allow the business incurring an obligation unless the director believes on reasonable grounds that the company will be able to perform the obligation when it is required to do so.

In the normal course of events, directors who are found to have breached those duties can face personal liability.

To protect directors from such claims over the next six months (to encourage them to continue to undertake their important role) the Government has announced its plans to introduce temporary “safe harbour” provisions to apply where:

  1. in the good faith opinion of the directors, the company is facing or is likely to face significant liquidity problems in the next six months as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the company or its creditors;

  2. the company was able to pay its debts as they fell due on 31 December 2019; and

  3. the directors consider in good faith that it is more likely than not that the company will be able to pay its debts as they fall due within 18 months (for example, because trading conditions are likely to improve or they are likely to able to reach an accommodation with their creditors).

These provisions may assist directors to carry more risk than they may otherwise be comfortable with – thereby preventing them putting an otherwise viable company into liquidation. However, it is more important than ever that directors have accurate and current financial information, both for past performance and future projections. There are no changes to director’s duties to act in good faith and to exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonable director would exercise in the same circumstances.

Business Debt Hibernation

Similarly, the proposed Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) regime intends to make it easier for businesses to keep trading during COVID-19, despite significant cashflow pressures resulting from the pandemic. It intends to:

  • encourage directors to talk to their creditors with a view to putting together a simple proposal for putting the business into hibernation;

  • allow for the directors to retain control of the company, rather than passing control to an insolvency practitioner;

  • provide certainty to new creditors that they won’t have to repay any money they receive, so as to encourage businesses to continue transacting with businesses in BDH; and

  • be simple and flexible so that it can be enacted quickly, and businesses can readily apply it to their circumstances without having to obtain legal advice.

A process will need to be followed to put a BDH scheme in place as it won’t be automatic. The business will need to meet a (to be determined) threshold, put a proposal to their creditors and obtain agreement from 50% (by number and value) of those creditors within a month. However, during the proposal process, there will be a one month freeze on the enforcement of debts. A further six months moratorium will be available if the proposal is passed.

While an entity is in BDH, it will be able to continue to trade, subject to any restrictions agreed with creditors. Once passed, it will be binding on all creditors (but not employees), not just those that voted for it.

To encourage businesses to continue to transact with a company in BDH, the Government plans to make new payments or dispositions of property exempt from the voidable transactions regime (unless it is to a related party). However, transactions will still need to be entered into in good faith by both parties, on arm’s length terms and without intent to deprive existing creditors of the company.

Most businesses will be eligible for BDH, including companies, trusts and partnerships. However, sole traders, licensed insurers, registered banks and non-bank deposit takers are exempt.

How Pitt & Moore Lawyers can help

Pitt & Moore Lawyers can provide tailored advice on how your business may rely on the announcements made by the Government.

Talk to us

For professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind contact either Geoff Caradus or Anissa Bain.

Epidemic Management Notice and Temporary Visa Holders

Further to our article announcing the NZ Government’s issuing of the Epidemic Management Notice, Immigration NZ have now clarified that:

  • Temporary visa holders (those holding for example work, student and visitor visas) who have a visa expiring before and on 1 April 2020 and are unable to leave New Zealand must apply online for a new visa before their current visa expires.

  • If temporary visa holders can’t provide certain information required by the online form, such as a new medical certificate, they can upload an explanation instead in order to complete the online application.

  • Normally, following a submission of an online application, visa applicants are grated an interim visa automatically when their current visa expires.

  • An interim visa allows people to remain lawfully in New Zealand for up to a maximum period of 6 months.

We have been advised that all of Immigration NZ’s overseas offices are closed for the foreseeable future as a result of COVID-19. A small number of staff are currently operating from Immigration NZ’s Head Office in Wellington, their priority is dealing with any COVID-19 requests. No other visa applications are being processed at this time.

We will update you as further information comes to light.

Talk to us

If you hold a temporary visa please contact us if you require immigration advice or assistance with your current circumstances.

Epidemic Management Notice Issued

The New Zealand government has issued an epidemic management notice enabling the use of special powers to help control Covid-19. The parts of that notice which relate to immigration matters will come into force on Thursday, 2 April 2020. Immigration NZ have advised that the effect of the notice will be:

  • Temporary visa holders (those holding for example work, student, and visitor visas) who have a visa expiring before and on 1 April 2020 and are unable to leave New Zealand must apply online for a new visa. Subsequently an interim visa will be issued.

  • Temporary visa holders who have a visa due to expire between 2 April and 9 July 2020 inclusive will have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020. Immigration NZ says that an email confirming visa extensions will be sent to these visa holders. A visa holder must be in New Zealand in order to have their visa extended. The extensions don’t apply to resident visas.

We recommend for temporary visa holders whose visas expire on or before 1 April 2020 to take particular care to ensure that they apply for a further visa before the expiry of their current visa.

The Epidemic Management Notice also gives additional powers to Immigration Compliance Officers and Judges when detaining people who are liable for deportation. The notice expires on 25 June 2020, but can be extended by the Government if required.

We will update you as further information comes to light.

Talk to us

If you hold a temporary visa please contact us if you require immigration advice or assistance with your current circumstances.

New Zealand Border Restrictions – Who is allowed to come to New Zealand?

The New Zealand Government has taken further steps to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Our Prime Minister announced yesterday additional entry restrictions that will mean many foreign nationals will not be allowed entry to New Zealand. However, it is not a complete ban.

The Government will review the restrictions in 14 days.

What is the position right now?

The new restrictions come into effect for passengers boarding a plane to New Zealand from 11:59pm 19 March 2020 to 11:59pm 31 March 2020.

Currently, the following people will be allowed entry:

  • New Zealand citizens;

  • New Zealand resident and permanent resident visa holders (BUT entry permission will be refused to residence class visa holders where the visa was granted offshore and the person is arriving in NZ for the first time);

  • The partner, dependent children or legal guardian travelling with a New Zealand citizen, resident or permanent resident visa holder;

  • Australian citizens and permanent resident visa holders whose primary place of residence is New Zealand;

  • Aircraft crew and marine crew;

  • Members of Armed Forces travelling on a military craft.

The New Zealand Government is not restricting freight and goods which are still coming in. Sea freight routes remain open for imports and exports, including essential supplies.

An exception to the travel restrictions can be requested on a case-by-case basis for:

  • Humanitarian reasons

  • Essential health workers, as confirmed by the Ministry of Health

  • Other essential workers, as defined by the New Zealand Government

  • Citizens of Samoa and Tonga, for essential travel to New Zealand

  • Partners and dependents of temporary work or student visa holders who normally live in New Zealand where the temporary work or student visa holder is currently in New Zealand.

All travellers to New Zealand must now isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival.

Get professional advice

If you are currently overseas and you hold a visitor/work/student visa and you were planning to travel to New Zealand, please contact us if you require immigration advice or assistance with your current predicament.

Likewise, if you have already submitted your visa application and it’s still under assessment or you were planning to apply for a visa, please get in touch and we can provide you with tailored advice concerning your particular circumstances.

We know that these restrictions will have a big impact on New Zealand employers as well as on migrants. At times like these, practical and reliable advice is essential as mistakes can be costly.

We also understand that Immigration New Zealand’s Manila office was closed on 18 March 2020 because the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines has changed. This office usually processes applications including Essential Skills, Specific Purpose and Partnership work visa applications. These applications will be reallocated to other Immigration New Zealand branches for processing.

Talk to us

We don’t just advise on the visa requirements, we can ensure that you receive comprehensive legal advice on to all aspects applicable to your particular circumstances, including compliance and employment.

Contact our Immigration Team for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions What Employers Need to Know

Covid-19 is having an effect on all parts of all of our lives, not least in the way that we work. We are fielding a number of enquiries from our clients, and the frequently asked questions are set out below.

The important thing to bear in mind is to keep communication between all parties to an employment relationship open, frequent, and sensitive to each other’s circumstances. This is reinforced by the Employment Relations Act which requires employers and employees to be open and constructive with each other.

Please bear in mind that the below are general principles only, and specific circumstances may differ depending on employment agreements and other factors. For advice on your situation, please get in touch.

What happens with pay?

If an employee is “ready, willing and able” to work, then they must be paid their normal wage. If they are required by the government to self-isolate, then they are not ready willing and able to work and therefore not entitled to be paid.

If however an employer requires an employee to stay away from the workplace then the employee is entitled to be paid. The employee’s absence in this case is due to a decision of the employer, not the government or the employee themselves, and therefore are entitled to pay.

In the event of a Level 4 (or Level 3 in some circumstances) alert where people are required to stay home by the government and travel is severely limited, employees who cannot work from home will not be able to work, therefore not entitled to pay. If a business is required to shut by the government, the same will apply.

Many employers are likely to experience a significant downturn in their businesses. In this event a wage subsidy is available from the government. If there is no work for an employee, then technically employers should consult with respect to the prospect of redundancy. However, employers may look to agree with their employees reduced hours, periods of unpaid leave or other alternatives to redundancy. Specific advice should be sought on this point, as force majeure or frustration considerations may come into play.

Sick leave

Employees can use sick leave if they or a dependent family member is actually sick. Self-isolation is not in itself sickness, so sick leave is not strictly available to employees in this case. Employers are recognising the circumstances however and are being reasonably flexible.

Annual leave

If an employee wants to use annual leave then this should not be unreasonably refused. If an employer wants an employee to use their annual leave, and the employee does not agree to this, then the employer can require them to take annual leave with 14 days notice.

Returning to work

As a general principle employers will be able to request employees produce a negative test before returning to work – but only where the employer has reasonable grounds to suspect an infection.

Refusal to work

Employees are entitled to refuse to work under the Health and Safety at Work Act, if they have a reasonable fear that they may contract Covid 19. They do have to discuss this with their employers before doing so though.

Talk to us

We are employment law specialists. If you need any advice or guidance in this difficult time, please contact Heather Collins.

Employer Assisted Work Visas

All businesses who employ migrant workers will have read about upcoming changes in the immigration space. Communication from Immigration New Zealand hasn’t been entirely clear however, so this article will try to shed some light on what employers and migrant workers can expect over the next year.

Currently the skill level of a position is assessed by skill bands using the Australia New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) along with remuneration. Immigration New Zealand have finally recognised that the ANZSCO is not fit for purpose, and so from mid 2020 that assessment will be removed for Essential Skills Work Visas. Instead there will be a simple income threshold based on median incomes at the time. Essentially if an employee is paid above the median income (currently $25.50 per hour) their employment will be assessed as skilled no matter what position they hold, and they will be eligible for a renewable three year visa.

Nelson has been designated as a “Higher Supply” region. That means that for applications for employees being paid above the median wage from early 2021 there will no longer be a labour market test – so there would be no need to advertise the position or work with Work & Income. This will be coupled with a requirement for employers have some sort of accreditation before they can sponsor a migrant worker (for detail on this please see our article on our Employer Accreditation). Please note that this is subject to the current Government being re-elected – election year has a way of throwing up surprises in the Immigration field.

Conversely however for employees paid below the median wage the labour market test will be much more stringent than the one presently in place. These employees will also only be granted 12 month visas, and can stay for a maximum of 36 months before they have to leave New Zealand for a minimum of 12 months (assuming they do not get a position which might mean they are eligible for a three year visa).

The ability to sponsor partners and dependent children has also been reinstated for this category of employee, but the rather perverse condition has been put in place that they can only receive visitor or student visas, and they will not be able to work. It was put to Immigration New Zealand that this approach will lead to migrants living in poverty – as only one person in the family can work, by Immigration New Zealand’s own definition they are relatively lowly paid, and the families will not have access to any government support including healthcare – but they appear to be determined to push ahead with it.

Regional Skill Shortage Lists will also be introduced – this is a welcome change provided it is done in consultation with local employers. It means that the different labour requirements of different regions will be recognised and catered for.

From early 2021 a new pathway to Residency will be opened for employees paid 200% of the median income, no matter what position they hold.

Finally, “Sector Agreements” are being negotiated in certain industries. These are designed to allow access to migrant workers for employers in a sector, with the trade-off being progress towards improvements in terms and conditions over time.

So, for some employers employing migrants will become significantly easier, while others may struggle in the new regime.

Talk to us

If you have any queries in respect of employer assisted work visas or the upcoming changes, or any other immigration related issues, please contact our Immigration Team.

Update on Compulsory Employer Accreditation

Earlier this year, in our article entitled ‘Compulsory Employer Accreditation Coming Your Way’, we explained that the Government is proposing a significant change to the way that New Zealand employers support work visas by suggesting that all employers hiring migrant workers under a new framework will need to be accredited.

To recap briefly, the Government’s proposals released for consultation in December 2018 indicated that a new employer-led framework for employer assisted temporary work visas would consist of three gateways:

Gate 1: The Employer Check (Accreditation)

Gate 2: The Job Check (Labour Market Test)

Gate 3: The Migrant Check

This means that under this proposed framework, the onus of providing information at the initial stage shifts from the migrant worker to the New Zealand employer. Employers would need to follow a process of submitting an application to Immigration New Zealand with a range of prescribed supporting evidence about their business and paying an applicable fee.

As part of this new framework, the Government would scarp six temporary work visa categories, including Essential Skills, Work to Residence – Long Term Skill Shortage List Occupation, and Talent (Accredited Employer). In essence, resulting in fewer pathways and visa options for migrant workers.

Feedback was invited on the proposals, with consultation running for three months. We understand that 641 submissions were received by the deadline of 18 March 2019, many questioning the need for the drastic overhaul.

At the time of writing this article, no further formal announcement had been made by the Minister.

So when is the new framework likely to come into effect?

The Minister of Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway, indicated at a recent New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment conference held in Auckland on 24 August 2019 that he is aiming to announce the new employer-led framework including the requirements for compulsory employer accreditation within the next two months. He acknowledged at the conference that the new framework would be a big change for New Zealand employers and said that the new provisions would be phased in to give employers time to come to grips with the new requirements.

He also said that many employers in the hospitality industry in particular need to lift their game if they want to retain the right to employ migrant workers. He stressed that good employers would be rewarded.

In the consultation documentation released for comment it was flagged that the new framework with compulsory employer accreditation would be implemented between April and June 2020. This timeline is yet to be confirmed by the Minister. However, given that 2020 is an election year, the Government will no doubt want to have any snags in the employer accreditation application process addressed before voters go to the polls.

How many employers and migrants will the proposals impact?

The numbers of visa applicants and, more importantly New Zealand employers that these proposals will impact was mentioned in the Cabinet Paper, that was released along with the consultation documentation, as being:

  • approximately 16,000 New Zealand employers supported visa applications under the Essential Skills Category alone in 2017/2018. That is around 80% of the total number of New Zealand employers who supported employer-assisted temporary work visa applications in 2017/2018;

  • 47,000 temporary work visas issued in 2017/2018 were employer-assisted. That is approximately 20% of the 230,000 temporary work visas issued in 2017/2018.

Impact on your business

The Minister of Immigration has signalled strongly that compulsory employer accreditation will be implemented.

In preparation for this change it would be prudent for New Zealand businesses, who already employ migrant workers or intend to in the near future, to review their processes and practices to ensure that they would be able to meet Immigration New Zealand’s requirements for accreditation.

In fact it would be prudent for all New Zealand businesses to make themselves ‘accreditation’ ready given they may need to employ migrants in the future even if that need is not there now. All New Zealand businesses should carefully consider whether they:

  • meet all immigration and employment law standards

  • have the requisite workplace policies and processes in place

  • understand the consequences of being placed on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s stand down list

  • want to offer a pathway to residence for prospective migrant workers.

Once the compulsory employer accreditation comes into effect we anticipate that there are likely to be processing waiting periods which could have a detrimental impact on your business. As a result, we recommend that employers don’t leave applying for accreditation to the last minute.

We will continue to monitor the developments in this area and will provide further updates as needed. We encourage employers to subscribe to our Publications page.

Talk to us

Contact our Immigration Team for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.

Compulsory Employer Accreditation Coming Your Way

The Government has recently consulted on key proposals which will significantly impact New Zealand businesses who employ or might employ migrant workers, as well as on migrant workers.

The Government intends to scrap the following six temporary work visa categories and replace them with a new framework:

  • Essential Skills including the Essential Skills in Demand Lists
  • Work to Residence – Long term Skill Shortage List occupation
  • Approval-in-Principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer)
  • Silver Fern (Practical Experience)
  • Silver Fern (Job Search)

The new framework would require employers to hold ‘Employer Accreditation’ status with Immigration New Zealand before a visa could be approved for a migrant worker. This requirement is likely to include employers with existing employees on a work visa that require a visa extension.

This means that employers would need to follow a process of submitting an application to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) with a range of prescribed supporting evidence about their business and paying an applicable fee. Currently, the INZ fee for an initial Employer Accreditation application is $2,130.

From the documents released for consultation and information provided during community information sessions conducted by The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (‘MBIE’), the message is clear – the government is very much set on introducing compulsory employer accreditation, what is open to negotiation are the mechanics of the accreditation process.

Impact on your business

The Government has indicated that in preparation for the move to the new framework, in August 2019, they would implement changes to:

  • the remuneration threshold for the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa, increasing it from $55,000 per annum (or $26.50 per hour) based on a 40 hour working week to $78,000 per annum (or $37.50 per hour) based on a 40 hour working week. The Government has indicated that migrant workers who are already on the pathway to residence under the current Talent (Accredited Employers) visa policy would not be affected by this change and will still be able to qualify for residence if they meet the requirements of their existing visas.
  • the highly-paid threshold for Essential Skills Work Visa Category by increasing the hourly rate from $37.50 to $50.00, for employment with non-accredited employers, but dropping the labour market test requirement; and
  • the arrangements impacting mid-skilled workers under the Essential Skills Work Visa Category, whereby the remuneration threshold for mid-skilled workers will increase from $21.25 per hour to $25.00 per hour (bringing it in line with the Skilled Migrant Category remuneration threshold for ANZSCO levels 1-3 occupations). With the result that those migrant workers who hold Essential Skills Work Visas but are paid less than $25.00 per hour being re-classified as lower-skilled at their next visa application.

    The Government has indicated that this change is likely to have an impact on almost 10,000 migrant workers who are currently mid-skilled visa holders earning less than $25.00 per hour.

    The Government has also stated that the occupations most impacted by this change would be construction trade workers, food trades workers, hospitality and retail managers and automotive engineers

To be clear, however, at this time these changes have only been flagged by MBIE. They are not set in stone. The Minister of Immigration will announce final immigration policy changes in June 2019.

The Government has further indicated that between April and June 2020 they will introduce the new framework with compulsory employer accreditation.

It would be prudent for New Zealand businesses, who already employ migrant workers or intend to in the near future, to plan for this major change, review their processes and practices to ensure that they would be able to meet Immigration New Zealand’s requirements for accreditation.

In fact it would be prudent for all New Zealand businesses to make themselves ‘accreditation’ ready given they may need to employ migrants in the future even if that need is not there now. All New Zealand businesses should carefully consider whether they:

  • meet all immigration and employment law standards
  • have the requisite workplace policies and processes in place
  • understand the consequences of being placed on the MBIE’s stand down list
  • want to offer a pathway to residence for prospective migrant workers.

How Pitt & Moore Lawyers can assist

We are experts in this field and can review your workforce composition, policies and processes as part of our business health check audit. We can explain to you how the new framework may impact your business.

We can also provide support with designing, implementing and monitoring your systems and processes to ensure compliance with your obligations as employers.

Likewise, we can assist with the preparation of applications for Employer Accreditation.

Don’t leave Employer Accreditation to the last minute

If in the next few months you are intending to employ more migrant workers, we recommend that you consider applying for Employer Accreditation ahead of time, particularly if you want to offer a pathway to residence to your migrant workers.

Once the compulsory employer accreditation comes into effect there are likely to be processing waiting periods which could have a detrimental impact on your business.

Talk to us

Contact Mike McMellon today to get advice on the best way forward for your business.

The Real Cost to Businesses of Breaching Minimum Employment Requirements

Three recent decisions of the Employment Relations Authority have emphasised the importance of employers complying with minimum employment requirements – and the significant penalties employers can face by failing to do so.

Silviculture Solutions Limited decision – failure to pay minimum wage

Silviculture Solutions Limited, a large forestry company which employs up to 250 staff has been ordered to pay $35,000 after failing to pay its workers minimum wage. As a result of this penalty the company has been placed on the Immigration Employer Stand-down List preventing it from employing migrant workers for 18 months. It is noteworthy that approximately half the company’s workforce normally comprises of migrant workers.

The Employment Relations Authority held that the company used an “illegal system of calculating pay” because it only paid employees for their “productive hours” – being the time that the company expected the work to take – not the actual hours worked by the employees. In addition the company failed to pay workers for their attendance at safety meetings, or time spent preparing equipment and travelling to various work sites in the forest.

Golden Spring Takeaway decision and Modern Floor and Wall Limited decision – various breaches

Napier based restaurant Golden Spring Takeaway has been ordered to pay $30,000 for breaching a number of minimum requirements including failing to keep wage, time, holiday and leave records and failing to keep copies of employment agreements for its staff. Likewise the Auckland based flooring company Modern Floor and Wall Limited and its director have been fined a total of $25,000 for failing to pay the minimum wage and holiday pay and failing to keep holiday and leave records.

What you can do to protect your business?

The Employment Relations Authority is sending a firm message that breaches of minimum employment standards will not be tolerated. It is vital that employers understand their minimum employment requirements and apply them correctly to avoid penalties and being placed on the Immigration Employer Stand-down List. Both actions can have a significant impact on the bottom line and reputation of a business.

If you are unsure whether you are complying fully with minimum employment requirements Pitt & Moore Lawyers can help by completing an employment compliance health check for your business.

Talk to us

If you have any queries in respect of minimum employment standards, or any other employment law issues, please contact our Employment Team.

Foreign Buyer Ban on Purchasing Residential Property in New Zealand is now law

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill is now an Act, having received Royal Assent on the 22nd of August, and is expected to come into force sometime in mid-October (but in any event no later than 22 October 2018).

Importantly:

  • the Amendment Act will not apply to agreements for sale and purchase entered into before the Act comes into force. As such, overseas persons likely still have a few final weeks in which they can enter into an agreement to secure a residential property in New Zealand without having to worry about compliance with the new law.
  • the Amendment Act doesn’t interfere with the rights of overseas persons in relation to residential property they already own.

We set out below a brief overview of the key aspects of the new law (as it applies to residential property only).

The key change – residential is now sensitive

The basic prohibition under the Overseas Investment Act 2005 (“OIA”) remains the same as it has always been – “overseas persons” cannot purchase “sensitive land” without first obtaining Overseas Investment Office (“OIO”) approval. The fundamental change made by the Amendment Act is to alter the definition of “sensitive land” so that it now includes all “residential land”. Thus, subject to a few limited exceptions discussed below, “overseas persons” will not be able to purchase “residential land” without first obtaining OIO approval.

“Residential land” for this purpose includes any property classified as residential or lifestyle in the relevant rating valuation roll. It will therefore capture almost all properties which you would generally think of as being residential – and some which you might not (such as retirement villages).

New definition of an “overseas person” for natural persons

The Amendment Act also introduced a very slightly amended definition of the term “overseas person”. In particular, a natural person (i.e.individual people as opposed to companies or trusts) is an “overseas person” if they are neither a New Zealand citizen nor ordinarily resident here. A natural person is now “ordinarily resident” in New Zealand for the purpose of a residential property purchase if they:

  • hold a New Zealand residence class visa; and
  • have been residing in New Zealand for at least 12 months; and
  • are tax resident here; and
  • have been present in New Zealand for at least 183 days or more in total in the immediately preceding 12 months (counting presence in New Zealand for part of a day as a presence for a whole day).

Importantly, this means that simply holding a New Zealand residence class visa will not alone be sufficient to enable individuals to purchase a residential property without first obtaining OIO approval.

The Amendment Act has not changed the definition of “overseas persons” in relation to companies and trusts. In short, the position remains that if a company or trust (or any other type of entity for that matter) is 25% or more owned or controlled by an “overseas person”, the company or trust will itself be an “overseas person” (and will therefore be caught by the new restriction).

Exemptions

As a result of the Government’s obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) Agreement, exemptions have also been made for Australians and Singaporeans in Part 4 of the Overseas Investment Amendment Regulations 2018 (provided the residential land they are looking to acquire is not sensitive for any other reason).

There are a handful of more generally available exemptions from the requirement to obtain OIO consent for a purchase of residential (but not otherwise sensitive) land. In particular, exemptions are available for:

  • periodic leases of residential land or residential tenancies with a term (including renewal rights) of less than five years.
  • apartments within multi-storey development of 20 or more apartments which are purchased ‘off the plan’ (provided the developer has themselves applied for and obtained an exemption).
  • a hotel of more than 20 units or land to build a hotel of more than 20 units, provided the overseas person enters into a lease-back arrangement with the hotel operator/developer.

There is also an already existing (but often very helpful) exemption which often allows a married or long term couple, one of whom is an overseas person, to acquire residential property (or other sensitive land) in New Zealand.

Not a complete ban – applying for consent

The Amendment Act does not impose a complete ban on overseas persons acquiring residential property in New Zealand. Overseas persons remain free to apply to the OIO for consent to purchase.

In order to obtain consent to acquire residential land, an overseas person must demonstrate to the OIO:

  1. they are already permanent resident or resident visa class holders and they have a commitment to reside, and become tax resident, in New Zealand; or
  2. that they will increase the housing supply via their investment (and they will on-sell once the development is completed); or
  3. they will be acquiring residential land for conversion to a nonresidential use or a residential use incidental to a relevant business use; or
  4. the acquisition will be beneficial to New Zealand.

Our experience with the existing regime (where OIO application fees start at $22,500 and applications take months to process) suggest to us that in practice applying for consent will not be an option for most “mum and dad” would-be overseas residential property purchasers. This is presumably the exact outcome which the Government was hoping to achieve.

Get professional advice

Before embarking on an OIO application or signing any sale and purchase agreement sound legal advice is essential as mistakes can be costly.

Talk to us

For more information on this topic contact our Overseas Investment Team today.

Update on the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill – not a done deal yet for foreign buyers

The controversial Overseas Investment Amendment Bill that encapsulated the Government’s election commitment on banning foreign buyers purchasing homes in New Zealand has been the subject of a review by the Parliamentary Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

The Committee is due to report this week (by 21 June 2018). The Bill was introduced into Parliament on 14 December last year. A total of 302 submissions have been received by the Committee, many calling for changes to the Bill.

The Property Institute of New Zealand in their submission argues that the Bill in its current form could lead to a contraction in housing availability as investors shy away from increased risk, which would in turn exacerbate the shortage of quality rental housing.

A submission by The NZ Institute of Economic Research and others highlight the risk of contagion to other types of investment. “It’s widely felt that the amendment sends an unfriendly signal to foreign investors who have previously seen New Zealand as welcoming of overseas investors, and when we are a country that is far away and small”.

It will be interesting to see what recommendations the Committee makes to the Government. 

Talk to us

We understand the needs of foreign investors. We can help with all aspects of your New Zealand investment, including purchasing property, obtaining Overseas Investment Office consent, forming a company and assisting you to purchase shares in a company or its business and assets.

Contact our Overseas Investment Team today to discuss how we can assist you.

Immigration Compliance from Fragile to Agile

If you’re a business that employs, or is planning to employ, staff from another country, you’ll need to make sure that you are complying with the minimum employment obligations and immigration law requirements.

Keeping up with your immigration and employment requirements

As Immigration New Zealand and Labour Inspectors are now armed more than ever before with pervasive statutory powers, it is important for every employer to know their obligations and to keep one step ahead.

Buying a new business?

If you are in the process of purchasing a business which already employs migrant workers, in order to continue working for the new business owners, the migrant workers may need to vary the conditions of their Work Visas. You need to factor this into your planning, as applications for variations of visa conditions can take up to two months or longer to process by Immigration New Zealand.

Remember that responsibility for a breach of visa conditions falls both on the visa holder and the employer. A breach of visa conditions can lead to serious consequences for employers.

Once a breach occurs the situation is no longer straightforward. If you think one of your employee’s may have breached their visa conditions, we strongly recommend contacting an immigration lawyer as a matter of urgency and obtaining advice on how to rectify the breach immediately.

Impact on your business

You may not realise that non-compliance with the minimum employment obligations can result in a ban on hiring migrant workers, from six months to two years. More importantly, any existing employees on work visas would not be able to secure an extension of their work visa if the visa expires during a given ‘stand-down’ period, so affected employers could stand to lose existing employees as well.

Fines for non-compliance with immigration law range from $10,000 to $50,000 for each instance of illegal employment, to $100,000 for the provision of legal advice by a HR manager without lawful authority to do so.

Penalties for non-compliance with minimum employment standards for individuals range from $1,000 to above $25,000; for companies from $1,000 to above $50,000.

Benefits of Compliance

In times like these, employers must make sure they have a proactive compliance mind-set. In the long term, this will reduce costs and will certainly position employers to move forward from being fragile to agile.

We are experts in this field and can keep you one step ahead with our comprehensive compliance audit. The sole aim of our carefully designed audit is to assist you to anticipate and avoid immigration or employment compliance related risks. We can also provide support with designing, implementing and monitoring your systems and processes to ensure compliance with your obligations as employers.

Talk to us

At Pitt & Moore our Immigration Team has extensive experience in all areas of immigration. As a full service law firm we have the resources to also offer any additional legal assistance.

Shifting the goalposts with overseas investment in sensitive land

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill introduced into Parliament under urgency by the Coalition Government in December last year is yet to become law.

In spite of this, a recent decision made by the Conservation Minister and the Associate Finance Minister suggests that even though the law hasn’t changed, the goalposts may have nevertheless shifted for new overseas investment in regional New Zealand.

Bathurst Coal Limited applied to the Overseas Investment Office (‘OIO’) to acquire the Sullivan Mine on the Denniston Plateau.

The OIO, having presumably undertaken its usual rigorous review of the application, recommended to the relevant Ministers that the benefits to New Zealand of the investment were sufficient to pass the relevant statutory test and therefore that the application should be approved.

Notwithstanding that advice received from the OIO, the relevant Ministers were not satisfied that the benefits to New Zealand of the investment were likely to be substantial and they turned down the application.

Does this signal a slightly shift in approach – almost certainly yes (and, to be fair, this is consistent with media coverage of the Government’s position). How big is that shift and where should we now draw the line – who knows? 

Where individuals stand on the foreign ownership debate will vary. One thing that I would hope we can all agree on is that businesses need a certain regulatory environment and goalposts in which to operate. 

Talk to us

We understand the needs of foreign investors. We can help with all aspects of your New Zealand investment, including purchasing property, obtaining Overseas Investment Office consent, forming a company and assisting you to purchase shares in a company or its business and assets.

Contact our Overseas Investment Team today to discuss how we can assist you.

Update: Ban on foreign buyers purchasing homes in New Zealand

Yesterday, the NZ Government introduced into Parliament legislation proposing an amendment to the Overseas Investment Act 2015.

The legislation will mean that foreign buyers will not be able to buy residential property unless they are either increasing the number of residences and then selling, or converting the land to another use and are able to show that this will have wider benefits to the country.

New Zealand and Australian citizens will be exempt from the regime, irrespective of where they live.

In addition, holders of New Zealand permanent resident visas will be exempt if they have been living here for at least 12 months, and have been present in the country for at least 183 days in the past 12 months.

The Bill will be sent to a Select Committee who will consider it early next year, which gives New Zealanders an opportunity to comment on the details of the Bill.

The government is aiming to pass this legislation in the new year and for the new rules to take effect in early 2018.

What is difference between a resident visa and a permanent resident visa?

Both resident and permanent resident visa give the visa holder a right to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely. The fundamental difference is that a resident visa holder who leaves New Zealand may only travel to and be granted entry permission as a resident if the conditions of the visa allow, known as travel conditions. Most resident visas are initially granted with two years of travel conditions, which may be extended.

A permanent resident visa, on the other hand, entitles the holder to travel to and be granted entry permission as a resident indefinitely.

When and how can I apply for a permanent resident visa?

You can apply for a permanent resident visa after you have held a resident visa for 2 years without interruption. You must have also met any conditions imposed on your Resident Visa which can include a sponsorship period of up to 5 years.  

The government is aiming to pass this legislation in the new year and for the new rules to take effect in early 2018.

What is the difference between a resident visa and a permanent resident visa?

Both resident and permanent resident visa give the visa holder a right to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely. The fundamental difference is that a resident visa holder who leaves New Zealand may only travel to and be granted entry permission as a resident if the conditions of the visa allow, known as travel conditions. Most resident visas are initially granted with two years of travel conditions, which may be extended.

A permanent resident visa, on the other hand, entitles the holder to travel to and be granted entry permission as a resident indefinitely.

When and how can I apply for a permanent resident visa?

You can apply for a permanent resident visa after you have held a resident visa for 2 years without interruption.

You must have also met any conditions imposed on your Resident Visa which can include a sponsorship period of up to 5 years. 

Talk to us

We understand the needs of foreign investors. We can help with all aspects of your New Zealand investment, including purchasing property, obtaining Overseas Investment Office consent, forming a company and assisting you to purchase shares in a company or its business and assets.

We can also assist with residence and permanent residence visas, including investment and business visas for those seeking to migrate to New Zealand.

We don’t just advise on the visa requirements, we can ensure that you receive comprehensive legal advice as to all aspects, including asset protection, trusts, corporate governance, compliance and employment.

If you have any questions about foreign investment in New Zealand or investment and business visas, please contact us for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.

Proposed new restrictions on foreign buyers purchasing homes in New Zealand: a first look

Foreign investment into New Zealand has been a hot topic, particularly during 2017, with a significant amount of focus on the New Zealand property market and increasing cost of housing.

On 25 October 2017, the new Prime Minister announced that by Christmas this year a Bill to stop foreign buyers from purchasing existing residential homes would go before Parliament. 

What is the position right now?

The Overseas Investment Act 2005 already prevents “Overseas Persons” from purchasing “Sensitive Land” unless they first obtain consent from the Overseas Investment Office (a process I’m not going to describe here, other than to say that it is long and expensive).

“Sensitive Land” for this purpose currently includes a variety of classes of land, most notably:

  • Non-urban land over 5 hectares (i.e. farm land);and
  • Land that adjoins foreshore or seabed.

The term “Overseas Person” includes any person who isn’t either a NZ citizen or “Ordinarily Resident” in New Zealand. To be “Ordinarily Resident” in New Zealand a person needs to both hold a residence class visa and reside in NZ and have done so for at least 12 months. It also includes any company or other entity that is more than 25% owned or controlled by an “Overseas Person”.

So, some (very much simplified) examples, currently:

  • If you are a NZ Citizen you can buy any property in NZ whether or not you currently live here.
  • If you aren’t a NZ Citizen and don’t hold a residence class visa for NZ you can’t buy a farm, but you can buy most residential houses
  • If you hold a residence class visa for NZ, but don’t yet live here (or have only just arrived) you can’t buy a farm, but you can buy most residential houses
  • If you hold a residence class visa for NZ and have lived here for over a year you can buy any property in NZ    
  • A company which is owned more than 25% by an Overseas Person can’t buy a farm, but can buy most residential house.

What is going to change?

Detail is scarce at this stage, but from what we have been able to glean from the available public announcements it appears that the Government intend to:

Expand the definition of “Sensitive Land” so that it includes existing residential houses.

 Alter what constitutes an “Overseas Person” in some, as of yet unspecified way; and

 Exempt Australians from these new requirements.

Will you be affected?

Applying this to our above examples, it will mean that:

If you aren’t a NZ or Australian citizen and don’t hold a residence class visa for NZ you won’t be able to buy a farm or an existing residential house.

If you are a citizen of anywhere other than NZ and Australia but you hold a residence class visa for NZ, but you don’t yet live here (or have only just arrived) you won’t be able to buy a farm or an existing residential house.

What next

We, like everybody else, await further clarification of the Government’s position with baited breath. The Government is no doubt going to have to walk a fine line between targeting the ‘overseas speculators’ that it is has publicly made clear it is looking to exclude while still encouraging foreign capital and highly skilled workers into our businesses and economy. The devil, as always, will be in the detail.

Talk to us

We understand the needs of foreign investors. We can help with all aspects of your New Zealand investment, including purchasing property, obtaining Overseas Investment Office consent, forming a company and assisting you to purchase shares in a company or its business and assets.

We can also assist with investment and business visas for those seeking to migrate to New Zealand and invest or operate their own business here. We don’t just advise on the visa requirements, we can ensure that you receive comprehensive legal advice as to all aspects, including asset protection, trusts, corporate governance, compliance and employment.

If you have any questions about foreign investment in New Zealand or investment and business visas, please contact us for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.