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.

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.

Topics: All Select

Nick Mason

Position: Partner
Email: nick.mason@pittandmoore.co.nz
DDI: +64 3 545 7897