New Visa regime easy on INZ but hard on employers

New Visa regime easy on INZ but hard on employers
June Ranson

Mount Maunganui, September 25, 2019

Changes to the work visa system announced by Immigration Minister on September 17, 2019 are not all positive for employers or migrants.

The devil is in the detail in this announcement. While there are some benefits, there are also negatives.

Work to Residence Path wanes

Employers who are currently known as Accredited Employers should know that from October 7, 2019, all job offers made to migrants to gain Work to Residence visas (Talent Visas) a salary of $79,560 or greater must be offered for a 40 hour week an increase from $55,000 per annum.

Immigration NZ has indicated that this Work to Residence pathway through an Accredited Employer will be phased out in 2021.

Currently, the existing six different temporary work visa pathways are being replaced with one. The key factors are: Government is reducing residence numbers by increasing temporary visas.  

While this sounds wonderful, none of these temporary visas will lead to residence status unless the migrant has qualifications, experience and a salary that will allow them to meet the points required for Skilled Migrant Residence. For low skilled workers this will never happen unless they progress to higher salaries and experience.

Images from INZ Website

Status of Lower Skilled Workers

A lower skilled worker who would earn below the medium threshold of $52,000, while now permitted to bring their partner and children to New Zealand,  the partner would only be issued a visitor visa and the children allowed to attend public schools at domestic fees up to tertiary education, which then incurs international fees.

The total period these migrants may stay without a significant pay rise will be three years, they then must leave New Zealand.

This will impact on rest homes, restaurants, hospitality and all trades people unless significant pay increases are given.

Labour Market Test

What has not been made public at this stage is the intention that employers must undertake the Labour Market Test through Ministry of Social Development who will be reviewing the vacancy for comparing qualifications and experience, looking for substantial matches.   

The Ministry intends that employers will accept the people it puts forward unless the candidate fails to attend the interview or fails drug testing.   

While we have been informed that training and equipping MSD staff will take approximately 18 months to come into force, it is very hard on New Zealand employers who may be forced to employ staff they do not believe will fit their organisation.   

Every company is different and what we are being told is an indication that the Government is trying to run private businesses by forcing them to take on staff who do not fit the organisation.

The latest changes may make administration easier for Immigration New Zealand, but it will not do so for the employers.


The New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) is made up of lawyers and licensed immigration advisers who must uphold professional standards and comply with the Association’s strict Code of Ethics. This Code always requires them to uphold the integrity of the New Zealand immigration system and to respect the vulnerability of migrants. For more information please visit

June Ranson is Chair of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment.

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