Positive visa changes for temporary workers in New Zealand for 2021

The Minister of Immigration, Hon Kris Faafoi announced, on Sunday 20 December 2020, that a further automatic extension would be granted to employer-assisted work visa holders, whose visas expire between 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021, for a period of six months from the date of expiry. Visas held by their partners and dependent children will also be extended.

The Minister also announced that the stand-down period for lower paid Essential Skills Work Visa holders will be delayed for a further 12 months, until January 2022. This is welcome news to many migrant workers and their New Zealand employers who would otherwise been negatively affected by the stand down period during the course of 2021.

Six Month Automatic Extension

The following employer-assisted work visas will be automatically extended:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Work to Residence Visas
  • Special and Skilled work visas for China, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam
  • Special category work visas for Japanese Interpreters and Thai Chefs
  • Employer-specific work visas granted under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009
  • Fishing Crew Visa
  • Religious Worker Visa
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa

The extension will be for six months from the date of original visa expiry. Immigration NZ have advised that visa holders should receive confirmation of the extension by March 2021. We note that this extension is only for onshore visa holders and not for holders of any other types of temporary visas, such as visitor visas, student visas, post study visas, or specific purpose work visas.

From our experience the automatic extension process applied by Immigration NZ is flawed, many visa holders are often missed by the system and need manual intervention in order for the extension to be granted. Many visa holders also don’t receive any notification from Immigration NZ.

We highly recommend that visa holders and New Zealand employers check that the relevant visas have actually been extended and don’t just assume that they have been extended.

Working Holiday Visas 

Immigration NZ have advised that Working Holiday Visas that expire from 21 December 2020 to 30 June 2021 (inclusive) will also be extended for 6 months. Visa holders will be allowed to continue working in any employment that is not permanent in any sector until their visas expire. Limits on the total period of time a person can work for one employer will be removed.

Median wage of $25.50 to remain in effect until July 2021

Immigration NZ will continue to use the 2019 median wage of $25.50 to determine visa conditions until at least July 2021, at which point it will rise to $27 an hour. 

Get professional advice

If you’re unsure as to whether the automatic extension applies to you or your family members, get in touch with us at Pitt & Moore Lawyers for professional advice that will give you peace of mind.

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 all aspects applicable to your particular circumstances, including compliance and employment.

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

Mike McMellon

Position: Consultant
Email: mike.mcmellon@pittandmoore.co.nz
DDI:  +64 3 545 6710