Proposed changes to temporary work visa categories for 2019 | Pitt & Moore, Lawyers in Nelson

Proposed changes to temporary work visa categories for 2019

Just when you thought it was time to relax and get ready for the festive season, on 18th of December the New Zealand Government made a startling announcement revealing its set of proposed changes to the 'employer-assisted temporary work visa settings', opening their public consultation with a big splash!

The Government’s stated aim for the proposed changes is to make it easier for regions and industries to get the workers they need to flourish as well as to help combat migrant exploitation.

In brief, these proposed changes are as follows:

1. Introducing a new framework for all employer-assisted temporary work visas

It is proposed for the new framework to be employer-led as opposed to migrant-led. This would result in less visa pathway options for migrant workers and would require all New Zealand employers wishing to hire migrant workers to apply for and receive a particular type of ‘employer accreditation’ status before they could hire a migrant.

Under this proposed framework, the onus of providing information at the initial stage shifts from the migrant worker to the New Zealand employer.

Furthermore, it appears that the Government is aiming to tighten the labour market test further to ensure that migrants are not being used for jobs New Zealanders can do.

At first blush, it appears the Government is heading towards the ‘Standard Business Sponsor’ model operating in Australia. Where all employers need to apply for ‘Standard Business Sponsor’ status before a migrant can submit a valid temporary work visa application. If an employer is not able to obtain this status they simply can’t hire migrant workers and any related visa application is not approved.

The Government’s stated aim is to make the Work Visa system less complex. However, this framework would be a huge shock to many employers and may discourage many employers from hiring migrants due to the red tape involved in becoming an accredited employer.

2. Regional Skills Shortage Lists to replace the Essential Skills in Demand Lists

As part of the new framework, the Government is aiming to introduce the long awaited and much anticipated Regional Skills Shortage lists to reflect the skill shortages that exist in the regions.

Under the proposed framework, only accredited employers could use the new lists to fill a corresponding vacancy in their business with a suitably qualified/capable migrant worker. No labour market test will be required for occupations on the new Regional Skills Shortages lists.

3. Introducing sector agreements

For those sectors that the Government considers to be heavily reliant on low skilled migrant workers it is proposing to introduce sector agreements, in order to address long term structural issues with the workforce.

It is envisioned that these agreements would help businesses in need to source migrants easily in return for commitments by their sector to employ and train more New Zealanders.

Once again, under the proposed framework, only accredited employers could benefit from such agreements.

4. Improving alignment of the immigration, welfare and education systems

The Government is concerned with improving coordination of its resources and encouraging different agencies to work better together within the overall system.

5. Miscellaneous matters under review

It interesting to note that the Government will also review some policy changes that had been made by the previous government to ensure that they align with current priorities. One of these policy changes is the controversial stand-down period for lower-skilled migrant workers under the current Essential Skills Work Visa framework.

The Government has also undertaken to review what it considers as ‘genuine and significant anomalies’ in the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) system as these relate to immigration settings.

Consultation process

Consultation is open to all individuals, groups or organisations. Submissions can be made online by completing the online consultation form and must be received by 5pm, 18 March 2019.

The Government hopes to announce the final decisions by mid-2019. 

Overall, these proposed changes could mean that employers would have a much higher onus to provide information in preparation of employing any migrant workers. As part of this process, employers would need to demonstrate to Immigration New Zealand that they have good track records and comply with New Zealand’s employment and immigration laws.

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 article is a useful overview of the Government’s proposed changes.

For more information contact: Chloe Chai, Solicitor Pitt & Moore Lawyers 03 548 8349

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.


Chloe Chai

Position: Solicitor
DDI: +64 3 928 0723