The Government has effecting changes to its immigration policy to address labour shortages in key industries, ensuring that New Zealanders who have lost jobs due to Covid-19, have a chance to find new employment.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said that the government was concerned with labour shortages in horticulture and wine growing, which are among the sectors affected by the pandemic.
It is therefore important to we support the relevant employers, ensuring simultaneously employment opportunities for New Zealanders.
Working holiday visas extended
“This season we expect more Kiwis, who have lost jobs due to Covid-19 will be available to work in these sectors, but it is likely there will be a shortfall of workers as these industries have often relied on migrants for their seasonal peaks,” he said.
In addition, working holiday visas will be extended to enable workers to fill short-term horticulture and viticulture roles.
Mr Faafoi said that the Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visa will be automatically given to about 11,000 working holiday visa holders in New Zealand with visas expiring between November 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
These visas will allow them to work in horticulture and viticulture roles, where there are not enough New Zealanders available to do this work, he said.
“Employers can take on these workers when there are unfilled Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme spaces with an RSE employer, or there are unfilled roles available with an accredited SSE employer. They will also be able to take on SSE workers for roles in regions specified on a list which the Ministry of Social Development is currently compiling,” Mr Faafoi said.
New job seekers
The changes will also enable other work visa holders to apply for an SSE visa if they have a job offer from one of these employers or if the job is on the Ministry of Social Development list.
In addition, all RSE scheme workers stranded in New Zealand who have been granted a more flexible limited visa to be able to work part-time and do non-RSE work will be able to ‘re-enter’ the RSE scheme and work for an RSE employer with 30 hours per week average pay guaranteed.
Mr Faafoi said that the changes will help fill roles that cannot be filled by New Zealanders in the short term, while the industry works on other solutions.