Temporary Visa changes will disrupt SMEs in New Zealand

Temporary Visa changes will disrupt SMEs in New Zealand
Raj Pardeep Singh

Auckland, September 25, 2019

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced on September 18, 2019 the long-awaited temporary work visa changes. 

Most of the changes that will affect employers more than migrant workers and will not happen until 2021.

Migrant communities unimpressed

These changes are not very impressive to migrant communities. The most effected people from these changes will be small to medium size business employers and their employees. INZ has planned to put in place a system based only on the pay rate of the job for the duration and skill level of a visa.

It has not yet given an indication as to what will be the pay rate for visa duration.

The minimum pay rate will increase every year until 2021 and will affect small business owners. Employers need to be accredited and would still be required to undergo labour market test and work with Work and income for Skill Match Report.

Low skill workers need to leave the country after three years of work in New Zealand.

Relief to low skill workers that they can bring their family while they are in New Zealand.

We understand that the Immigration Minister wants to set high standards and checks for all employers. However, we are of the opinion that good employers who are already accredited are being punished and why should they pay $25,000 more every year to bring skilled people in New Zealand?

Lets see, how these changes will affect/benefit the business community, future will tell however in current situation when small to medium size business are struggling with business sustainability and labour shortage how they will cope up with very strict and challenging policies and requirements from Immigration New Zealand.

Silver Fern Job Search Visa closes

With effect from October 7, 2019, new applications for Silver Fern Job Visa will not be issued.

If you already have a Silver Fern Job Search Visa, you can still apply for a Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

There are some changes coming, if you are planning to apply for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa or a Silver Fern Job Search Visa and Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa.

There are some immediate changes that affect new applicants for the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa. If you apply before October 7, 2019 the changes will not affect you.

(Source INZ Website)

Changes to Essential Skills Work Visas

Probably with effect from June 2020, there would be changes to Essential Skills Work Visas,

Including High-Skilled and Low-Skilled jobs.

The Skill band of a job, that is, whether it is low, middle or high skilled would be determined through a combination of pay and ANZSCO classification.

The skill band of a job determines if a visa can be granted for longer than 12 months; if the person holding a visa can stay in New Zealand for more than three years without having to leave; whether the person holding the visa can support their partners and children to come to New Zealand.

The system based on the rate of pay and classification of the job in ANZSCO will be replaced by a system based only on the pay rate of the job.

The duration of your visa will be decided from the information in your application and information provided by your employer, including how much you are paid, and

where you will work in New Zealand.

Low-Paid Work

For low-paid work, INZ will only grant a visa for one year, but if you are offered low-paid work in a rural area or small town that has proven difficulty finding workers, INZ can grant you visa up to three years.

Visa holders of Essential Skills Work Visa based on a low-skilled job, partner and children will be able to apply to come to New Zealand on a visitor visa for the length of your visa, if the minimum income threshold is met. If the partner wants to work in New Zealand, they must apply for a work visa on their own right.

Dependent Children

Dependent children can apply for a Visitor Visa, if they are under school age, or a student visa. They can study at primary and secondary school as domestic students if the visa holder and their partner can support them while they are in New Zealand. If the children want to study at tertiary level, they will pay the same fees as other full fee-paying international students.

The new temporary work visa will specify your employer, your job and the location of work. You will still be able to vary the conditions of your visa.

Stand-Down Periods

If you work in New Zealand in a low-skilled job, after 3 years you must leave the country. Stand-down periods of 12 months will still apply to low-paid work if you get a new temporary work visa.

There will be a new residence visa for some people holding the new temporary work visa. To apply for residence based on the new Temporary work visa you will need to be paid over 200% of the median wage, and have worked in New Zealand for two years.

As in the case of all work visa holders now, anyone on the new temporary work visa will be able to apply for other residence visas; for example, a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, at any time while they hold their work visa.

Introducing Sector Agreements

Employers from some industries, such as residential care (including residential aged care) and meat workers, will negotiate agreements with INZ so that they can more easily employ migrant workers. If a sector agreement applies to the job offered, employers must employ according to the terms of the agreement with that industry sector.

Changes in Year 2021

Temporary work visas will be replaced with a new temporary work visa.

The work visas being replaced would be Essential Skills Work Visa, Essential Skills Work; Visa approved in principle; Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa; Long Term Skill; Shortage List Work Visa; Silver Fern Job Search Visa; Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa;

The Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa will remain open for existing Silver Fern Job Search visa holders only.

If you already hold a work visa that INZ is replacing, it will remain valid until it expires.

If you want to continue working for your current employer after your visa expires, you must apply for the new temporary work visa or another visa for which you qualify.

If you already hold a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa or a Long-Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa, you can still apply for residence based on your current work visa.

Employer Schemes will be removed

Approval in principle (AIP) before an employer hires a worker on an Essential Skills Work Visa; Accreditation as a Talent Accredited Employer.

Visas and employer schemes that are not affected: Other work visas and employer schemes such as the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme and working holiday visas are not impacted by these changes. INZ has provided a full list of visas that are not affected with our more detailed information for employers.

The process that employers use to recruit migrant workers for temporary work will be improved.

Three Step Process

Employers wishing to employ migrant workers on the new temporary work visa will use a three-step process. They are as follows:

  1. Employer check — it will be mandatory for all employers, including those with an existing accreditation, to be accredited under the new application process before they can hire migrants on the new work visa.
  2. Job Check: this will include checking that the job is paid in line with the New Zealand market rate and, in some cases, will include a labour market test to ensure New Zealand workers are not available.
  3. Worker check: when a worker applies for a visa, they must show that they meet our standard character, identity and health requirements, as well showing they have the skills to do the job they have been offered.

As part of the labour market test, employers must include (a) the salary when advertising the job (b) provide information about low-paid jobs to MSD WINZ, and (c) accept potential workers referred by MSD WINZ for a low-paid job, although there are some exceptions.

Employers offering a high-paid job outside Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin will not have to do a labour market test.

Employers in these cities will still need to undertake a labour market test for any job they offer, unless it is on a skills shortage list.

Raj Pardeep Singh is a Barrister & Solicitor and Principal at Legal Associates based in South Auckland. Email: Raj@legalassociates.co.nz

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