Earlier this year, in our article entitled ‘Compulsory Employer Accreditation Coming your Way in 2021’ we wrote about major upcoming changes to the immigration system which will have a significant impact on New Zealand businesses who hire and rely on migrant workers.
To recap, changes to the current immigration system have been contemplated by the Government as early as 2019 and the implementation of the new framework was initially intended to take place in early 2020, but was put on hold only to be revived this year.
In an abrupt move, the Government announced that the launch of compulsory employer accreditation or the new Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme, which was due to come into effect from 1 November 2021, has been deferred yet once again, now to mid-2022. A further announcement on the exact date when the new scheme will be introduced will be made as soon as the Government gets its act together. This may take some time! or it may be deferred yet again?
It has been reported in the press that it is the Government’s aim to decrease reliance on lower-paid migrant workers, increase productivity, address infrastructure challenges and ultimately increase the skill levels of workers migrating to New Zealand. The Government, however, has not clearly articulated to date how this aim is going to be achieved, particular in light of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had around the globe.
We can only assume that this will be eventually done through tightening of visa criteria across residence and temporary work visa categories, as well as reducing the number of pathways to residence. For example, the Government may introduce stricter requirements for visa applicants, such as higher educational or experience requirements and stricter labour market testing to support businesses and address skills shortages.
The lack of clear direction and communication from the Government has created ambiguity not only for migrant works but also for countless New Zealand businesses who hire and rely on them. Overall, adding to an already stressful environment with significant labour shortages and resulting in distrust or lack of faith in the Government’s policy decision making capability.
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 the Government are going to affect New Zealand in the long-term.
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 as well as in employment law. This means that we can advise on all immigration, employment and visa-related issues.
For clarification on how the above announcement may affect you or your business, or for any other immigration assistance, please 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 advice that is specific to your circumstances.