Roundup of Changes Implemented by Immigration New Zealand in 2018 | Pitt & Moore, Lawyers in Nelson

Roundup of Changes Implemented by Immigration New Zealand in 2018

With 2018 almost coming to a close,  we take a quick look back at the year’s most significant immigration policy changes that have come into effect.

Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List

On 17 December 2018 the new Construction and Infrastructure Skills Shortage List (CISSL) takes effect. This shortage list aims to support the New Zealand Government’s construction and infrastructure commitments.

The CISSL covers all regions throughout New Zealand. Many occupations included on the list are already on existing shortage lists, however there are some new occupations, such as Truck Drivers, Plumbers and Drain layers.

Applicants would need to demonstrate that they meet the qualifications and/or work experience requirements of the CISSL in order to be eligible for a temporary work visa, without the need to satisfy the labour market test.

Overseas qualifications will require an International Qualification Assessment (IQA) from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority stating the comparable NZQF qualification.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team should you need advice with respect to your eligibility for a Work Visa.

Higher Remuneration Thresholds for Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and Essential Skills Work Visa  

The minimum income thresholds for all skill bands for the SMC and Essential Skills Work visas were increased again from 26 November 2018.

Remuneration bands are used to assess the skill level of each Essential Skills Work visa applicant which affects the duration of the visa granted.

For further detail on the changes, refer to our article on this topic by clicking here.

Post Study Work Visa Changes

From 26 November 2018 the Post Study Employer-Assisted Work Visa has been removed, leaving only one type of Post-Study Work Visa available – the Post-Study Work Visa - Open. Visa holders will be able to work for any employer in almost any lawful employment anywhere in New Zealand.

From 26 November 2018 Post-Study Work Visas will be granted for either 1, 2 or 3 years, or for the remainder of the time left on existing visas for those people who already hold a Post-Study Employer-Assisted Work Visa.

For further detail on the changes, refer to our recent article on this topic at:

Interim Visas

If a visa applicant in New Zealand applies for a new temporary visa before the expiry of their current temporary visa, an Interim Visa can be issued to maintain their lawful status, should their current visa expire, while awaiting the outcome of their application.

Starting on 27 August 2018, Interim Visas issued by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will expire 21 days after the temporary visa application is declined or withdrawn.

Interim Visas are normally granted automatically while an application is being assessed, unless certain conditions apply and this is where some applicants can get into trouble. Read more about this in our last article on Interim visas at  

Online Applications for Dependents 

Partners and dependent children who enter New Zealand with or after the primary applicant can now apply online for a visitor, student, work or resident visa based on the immigration status of a sponsoring family member who is either a NZ citizen, a NZ visa holder or a NZ visa applicant.

The online system has been expanded. Applicants can upload application documents to an online portal instead of the previous requirement to send original documents and paper application forms.

E-Visas Now Issued Instead of Passport Labels for Visas 

Effective from 4 July 2018, INZ is issuing e-Visas that travellers must now print out and bring to the port of exit when travelling to New Zealand. INZ no longer issues physical visa labels.

Minimum Income Requirement for Essential Skills and Religious Worker work visa holders

With effect from 1 July 2018, minimum income requirement for Essential Skills and Religious Worker work visa holders whose dependent children are in New Zealand on visitor or student visas increased to $42,944.20 (note this threshold is different to the skill-band remuneration rates for Essential Skills Work Visas).

Further detail on the new income thresholds can be found here.

Looking ahead - changes on the horizon for 2019

On 18 December, the Government announced it is now consulting on proposed changes to employer-assisted temporary work visa settings to ensure that work visas issued reflect genuine regional skill shortages. The Government’s consultation will close on 18 March 2019.

Consultation on the proposals is open to all individuals, groups and organisations. The Government hopes to announce the final decisions by mid-2019.

We encourage employers and industry bodies, in particular, to carefully review the Government’s proposed changes and to participate in the consultation process. We are happy to assist with the preparation of written submissions.

Talk to us

We hope this roundup is a useful overview of the most important changes.

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

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal / immigration advice that is specific to your circumstances.

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Elly Fleming

Position: Solicitor
DDI: +64 3 545 6714