How to prepare for your appointment with an immigration lawyer

How to prepare for your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyerIf you’ve booked or are planning to book an appointment with an immigration lawyer in New Zealand, it can be hard to know what the process is, and what you need to bring.

Firstly, if you are yet to book your appointment, it’s best to check that you really do need an immigration lawyer. If you’re unsure, check out our article: immigration adviser vs immigration lawyer – whose help do you need?

We understand that immigration cases and New Zealand visa applications are expensive.

We want to make sure you get cost-effective and timely advice during your appointment. We’ve compiled a list of what you need to prepare before your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyer to make sure you get the most out of it.

Preparing for an immigration law appointment

For all appointments, bring:

  • Your visa (a photocopy is fine)
  • The date of your last police clearance check
  • The date you supplied your medical and x-ray certificates to Immigration New Zealand.

We strongly recommend preparing a list of any questions you might like to ask on the day. It is also helpful if you write a brief summary of your situation covering everything you think we may need to know. It is in your best interest to be honest and upfront about your situation with your immigration lawyer so that missed information doesn’t trip you up later on.

How to prepare for your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyer

You are welcome to bring a support person(s) and/or a translator if you struggle with English. Please keep in mind, however, that you will be discussing highly personal matters, so you need to trust this person to keep your information confidential.

There is no need to arrive early before your appointment, but do arrive on time. If you need tp change your appointment or are running late, please let us know as early as possible.

Other documentation required for your appointment is dependent on your reasons for going to an immigration lawyer in New Zealand.

How to prepare for your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyer

If you are applying for a New Zealand residence or New Zealand work visa, you will need to bring:

  • Photocopies of your offer of employment and, if possible, contract and job description
  • Background information about your employer, including:
    • The size of the company
    • How many employees it has
    • Whether it has supported work/residence visas in the past
  • Photocopies of any qualifications
  • Work experience references, and/or details of your prior work experience including dates of employment and descriptions of the tasks you performed
  • Copies of any correspondence from Immigration New Zealand relating to previous applications.

If you are wishing for help or intervention on a case you have filed, you need to bring:

  • A timeline of events, and any evidence to support this
  • A copy of the application documentation (especially in the case of an unsuccessful New Zealand visa application)

Copies of letters from Immigration New Zealand that detail the problems with the case.How to prepare for your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyer

Perhaps you have prepared your own case or visa application and just want:

  • A review of your application to ensure you have everything covered
  • A review of your documentation to ensure it meets the right visa criteria, and that you have everything you need
  • An assessment of whether your case is strong enough.

In this case, we recommend our 90-minute immigration clinic appointment. This appointment has a set fee and is the most cost-effective way to ensure your application is as strong as it can be, saving you the risk of spending time and money on an unsuccessful application.

You can book or find out more about our 90-minute immigration clinic appointment here.

How to prepare for your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyer

If you are an employer in the process of hiring a migrant employee(s), you must bring:

  • Copies of any advertisements for the position
  • A draft of the employment agreement and job description.

For more information about hiring migrant employees, check out our Employer Resources section, and our Employer Checklist. You can also view more about our business services here.

How to prepare for your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyer

If you are a migrant and already have an employment or skilled migrant visa, but feel you are being exploited by your employer, you will need to bring:

  • A copy of your contract
  • Evidence of exploitation. If this is on your phone (i.e., text messages or voice mail) you are welcome to simply bring that. If you don’t have evidence, please write a detailed timeline of the events that took place.

We understand that this is a very difficult situation, as your New Zealand visa can depend on your employer complying with New Zealand law. We take these situations very seriously, and we are legally required to keep your information private, so you can be sure that anything discussed with us won’t be shared. If you are unsure whether you are being exploited in your place of work, you can find out more about your rights as an employee here.

How to prepare for your appointment with a New Zealand immigration lawyer

After your first appointment, you can expect to have gained:

  • An understanding of your current legal position
  • An understanding of the application process and your chances of securing the type of visa you want
  • An understanding of any weaknesses in your case and whether they can be strengthened
  • A strategy for your application to ensure best chance of success.

We will provide you with a written Terms of Engagement that will map out the work we intend to undertake, as well as an estimate of fees, how long it is likely to take to receive a decision, and, finally, our terms and conditions.

As each case is hugely different from the next, we do not charge a set rate for case appointments (except for our 90-minute immigration clinic appointment). However, the first half hour of the initial appointment is free, which should give us enough time understand the situation and estimate costs, and allow you to decide whether you wish to proceed.

Find out more about our process here.

Aaron Martin, principal lawyer of NZIL, has been working as an immigration lawyer in New Zealand for over 20 years. In this time he has worked with many clients with a wide range of situations – from New Zealand visa applications to deportation. If you’d like to hear some of our client’s success stories, check out our client testimonials here.

If you have any other questions about your specific case, or what you may need to do to prepare for your case, please do not hesitate to contact the office either through our website, or by emailing questions@nzil.co.nz, or calling +64 (0) 9 869 2952.

New Zealand visa delays resulting in death threats: Aaron responds

New Zealand visa delays resulting in death threats: Aaron responds

Today, Radio New Zealand reported that immigration advisers in India are receiving death threats and abuse from clients experiencing ongoing New Zealand visa delays from New Zealand Immigration.

This has been an ongoing problem faced by Immigration New Zealand (and its clients) repeatedly over the 23 years I have been working in the sector. Things will improve for a period of time and then deteriorate again.

Sadly however, the world has moved on and expectations around timeliness are much higher than what they used to be. Employers have expressed frustration at the delays. Education providers have expressed frustration at the delays. The message from Immigration New Zealand management however has been “suck it up”. That would have to be reflective of the government’s approach because the ability to deal with it comes down to resourcing which is entirely in the control of the Minister and his cabinet colleagues.

The Ministers comments on the delays have essentially been ‘I am watching the situation’, but with little suggestion of any practical steps being taken to deal with the problem. Immigration officers are also exasperated. One has to question why the government continues to under-resource a government agency with such an important part to play in the New Zealand economy.

You can read the original article about the ongoing New Zealand visa delays here.

If you’re having issues with your New Zealand visa, you can contact Aaron and the NZIL team here.

New Travel Rules For New Zealand

New travel rules for tourists NZ

The New Zealand Government has introduced a new travel requirement for some visitors and transit passengers. It’s called the NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) and travellers need to request theirs via the official mobile app or website.

What is the NZeTA?

NZeTA logo
The NZeTA is a new border security measure being introduced by the New Zealand Government on 1 October 2019. Some travellers who are eligible to travel to New Zealand without a visa will now be required to hold an NZeTA before their travel to New Zealand.

The NZeTA is not a visa and doesn’t guarantee entry to New Zealand. On arrival in New Zealand, travellers must still meet all existing entry requirements, such as holding an onward travel ticket, being a bona fide visitor and being in good health.

Who needs an NZeTA?

You are required to hold an NZeTA before travelling to New Zealand if you are:
• Travelling on a passport from a visa waiver country.
• An Australian permanent resident.
• A cruise ship passenger, regardless of nationality.
If you are a cruise ship passenger from a visa required country, you can visit New Zealand using an NZeTA, but you must be travelling both to and from New Zealand on the cruise ship.

Do visitors in transit also need an NZeTA?
Travellers from visa waiver or transit visa waiver countries who are in transit through New Zealand are required to hold an NZeTA from 1 October 2019, even if New Zealand is not
their final destination.

Who does not need an NZeTA?
New Zealand and Australian passport holders and travellers who hold a valid New Zealand visa do not need an NZeTA.

Where to go for more information
To learn more about the NZeTA and to see the full list of eligible countries, visit immigration.govt.nz/nzeta or ask your travel agent.

What is the IVL?
The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) is a way for you to contribute directly to the tourism infrastructure you use and help protect the natural environment you enjoy during your stay in New Zealand. Most visitors also need to pay the IVL which is payable at the same time you request your NZeTA.

When should travellers request their NZeTA and pay their IVL?
You should request your NZeTA well in advance of your trip to New Zealand. It can take up to 72 hours for an NZeTA request to be processed.
From July 2019 you can request your NZeTA and pay your IVL at immigration.govt.nz/NZeTA. The NZeTA is only required for travel from 1 October 2019, when it becomes mandatory.
If you do not hold an NZeTA when you check in for your flight or cruise, you will not be allowed to board. You may be able to request an NZeTA upon check in, but if Immigration New Zealand (INZ) cannot process the request in time, or if your request is refused, then you will not be allowed to board.

Check out the Immigration New Zealand website for more information.

Visit immigration.govt.nz/nzeta to find out if you need one.

Read our thoughts on the changes in our recent article: New electronic transport authority: a recipe for chaos and confusion?

New Electronic Transport Authority: A recipe for chaos and confusion?

New Zealand ETA Visa - A Recipe for Chaos and Confusion

On February 25th, the details of the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) were confirmed by the New Zealand Government. The ETA, as described by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), is a “security and facilitation measure that will help speed things up at the border”.

Travellers who are required to hold an ETA before they travel to New Zealand will include:

• Travellers from visa waiver countries
• Australian permanent residents (with the exception of Australian passport holders)
• All cruise ship passengers, regardless of nationality
• Air and cruise crew

People in these groups will be able to apply for the ETA from next month, with the authority becoming mandatory to those wishing to enter the country from October 1st.

Applications for the ETA will vary in cost, from NZD $9.00 (if done via a mobile application) to NZD $12.00 (if done via the website). The decision process will take up to 72 hours (except in the case of emergency, which will require a different process and cost) and isn’t to replace any existing immigration requirements.

The initial application fees are said to cover the cost of running the systems, which will exceed $14 million per annum. The government will also implement a Tourism and Conservation Levy of $35 per person, which will go towards conservation and infrastructure costs. The levy, which exempts Australian Permanent Residents, will last for the same duration as the ETA.

The short timeframe between the introduction of the ETA and the date it becomes mandatory – which happens to fall in the middle of the official “China New Zealand Year of Tourism”–  will result in serious complications at the border. This raises the question: why can’t the government just slow down and do it properly?

The obvious answer? Revenue and possibly to keep pace with other partners in the international security network that have introduced the same thing.

While the initial application costs seem somewhat modest, there’s no doubt that $12 for every visa waiver visitor annually covers more than just implementation and admin costs. There is also no doubt that, like any tax or revenue-gathering exercise, this fee will soon increase.

Despite INZ’s claim that the authority is set to “speed things up at the border”, the rushed implementation of the system – and resulting lack of awareness for ill-informed travellers – will simply create chaos and confusion.

What will happen if someone fails to obtain an ETA in advance of trying to get on their flight? Will they be prevented from boarding? Or, if they are allowed to travel but arrive in New Zealand without an ETA, what will happen then? Are they stuck in the airport having to apply for the ETA before they pass through the border? As well as the 72-hour turnaround on applications the government has specified there must be an additional 72 hours’ gap between obtaining the authority and travelling. Are the travellers expected to wait out these six days at the airport?

This issue is especially concerning for visa waiver travellers who have already purchased tickets to travel prior to the implementation of the ETA. Because they have the waiver, these travellers have no reason to look at the INZ website and discover these changes. And, as they already have their tickets, there’ll be no opportunity for travel agents to warn them either.

Another major issue is cruise ship passengers. Kevin O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of the NZ Cruise Association, fears passengers will simply be turned away from the country. He’s advised that boarding 3500 passengers onto a ship already takes a considerable amount of time – anything that slows this down further could be detrimental for cruise liners.

A recent Cabinet paper suggests the tourism industry will see visitor numbers decrease by about 15,000 by 2021 – along with a $51 million hit to visitor spending – simply due to the introduction and associated fees of the Tourism and Conservation Levy. Throw in the costs and complications, waiting times, chaos, and confusion of the Electronic Travel Authority, and one can only wonder what blow the industry is about to take.

 

For more information on travelling to New Zealand, check out our article What You Should Know Before You Visit New Zealand

Help with difficult cases

New Zealand immigration lawyer client testimony for residence visa

Aaron described the steps we would take, how the case would go, and what could happen. He used “we” instead of “I”, emphasising to me how genuine and helpful he was. He was with me by my side.

 I came to New Zealand in 2010 to study a Bachelor of IT. I chose New Zealand because the education system is similar to my home country. I also wanted to come here for the environment and lifestyle, and because my father’s friends spoke highly of it. Friends who have gone to other countries experienced a lot of discrimination, but here I have not experienced racism at all. It’s very safe to practise Islam in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, in 2016, a very serious case was put against me. I was falsely accused of taking advantage of personal data. I worked with a lawyer who successfully cleared the case, but I was left with a criminal conviction. My New Zealand visa was due for renewal in 2017 – if I applied for residency, the conviction could mean I wouldn’t get it. Worse, I could be deported.

I was frightened, and I couldn’t find anyone to help me or give me direction. I went to two different lawyers but no one could give me any hope. All they said was: “This isn’t going to go well for you.”

Then I came across New Zealand Immigration Law on Google. I emailed Aaron and he invited me to meet with him.

Aaron reviewed my situation and told me there was a high possibility he could resolve the issue, but it was going to be a long case. Right from the start he mapped everything out for me. He described the steps we would take, how the case would go, and what could happen. He used “we” instead of “I”, emphasising to me how genuine and helpful he was. He was with me by my side. I opened my file with him on the same day because I genuinely trusted him.

After more than a year of battle, I finally heard great news from New Zealand Immigration: I was allowed to stay in New Zealand legally and not get deported. This was all possible because of Aaron’s helpful hand, expertise, and vast knowledge on New Zealand immigration matters. Everything he said at the start happened just the way he said it would.

Aaron was so professional, and he helped me with a lot of things. If I hadn’t found him, I would have given up. I would have stayed without a plan for a visa and probably just had to leave.

I can’t thank Aaron enough for helping me out and getting a positive outcome from Immigration New Zealand. I am really grateful to him and Junior, who kept communicating updates with me.

ASIF AMAN

Residency Visa

If you need help with a difficult situation, contact our team now.

What you should know before you visit New Zealand

What you should know before you visit New ZealandSo, you’re thinking of coming to Nuw Zulund? Choice. We’ll be heaps stoked to see ya.

If that makes no sense, this article is for you. We’ve covered as much as we can about our big-little country to give you a heads up (before you visit New Zealand) on what you’re about to get yourself into .

You may know we’re a small country in the pacific, and we get the occasional mention from John Oliver. But there’s probably lots of things you don’t know about us. We’re often forgotten about on world maps, so we don’t really blame you.

If you have spotted us on a map, you’ll know we consist of two (and a half) islands.

Contrary to belief, we are not part of Australia. Nor can you walk there on a low tide.

We have a population of 4.794 million people, spread somewhat unevenly across 268,021 km2. Population is particularly dense around the city of Auckland.

The climate is good, as is the coffee, and we kinda do all know each other. We have a pretty relaxed attitude to most things (except rugby). Our speed limits are slow, but our sunburn comes on fast (not sure who put that hole in the ozone layer but it’s a bit inconvenient). And we don’t tip at restaurants.

So, what else do you need to know before you visit New Zealand? Read on.

Food

What do Kiwis eat? The typical New Zealand diet isn’t just hokey pokey ice cream and pāua fritters (ok, maybe in summer). We’re also famous for Pineapple Lumps, lamingtons, feijoas, kūmara, pavlova, mānuka honey, and the highly regarded kina (although it’s a bit of an acquired taste … and texture). Make sure you try some of these specialities while you’re here.

Thanks to our rich soils, nationwide close proximity to the ocean, and good climate, we are also spoilt with high-quality grass-fed meats, seafood, dairy products, and flavourful fruit and vegetables.

You’ll be able to find a weekly farmers market near most towns. These will give you a chance to experience all of the above as well as artisan products – bread, olive oils, honey, and so on.

When dining out, you’ll generally find most types of cuisine. New Zealand food is generally a mixture of various international influences, predominantly western – with a kiwi twist, of course. There isn’t a huge fine-dining presence, but you will find cuisine of every nationality and dietary requirement. If you are a carnivore, you must try a hot mince pie, which can be found almost anywhere that sells food (or petrol).

Hāngi is a traditional Māori method of cooking food in an “umu”, or earth oven. Layered trays of meat and vegetables are placed inside the umu atop some very hot rocks, then covered with wet cloth and soil before being left to steam for around 4 hours. A hāngi is as much an experience as it is a “mean feed”. There’s usually lots of people of all ages, and everyone has a part to play. If you get a chance to go to a hāngi on your visit to New Zealand, we definitely recommend it.

Language We have three official languages in New Zealand: English, Te Reo (or Māori language), and sign language. English (pronounced “Inglush”) is the most widely used.

Accent Apparently New Zealanders have the world’s sexiest accent. Don’t worry – we’re as confused as you are. As Damien Barr has previously advised: “Anyone attempting to speak Kiwi [needs to] simply swap ‘e’ with ‘i’”. So ‘eggs’ become ‘iggs’, and so on. This can often get us in a bit of strife – say, if one was to say “there was six on the deck”, or “he may be dead”, as shown by Flight of the Conchords.

Nature New Zealand is known for its beautiful natural resources, which we love. We’re a small country, so most places have access to several different natural environments. The furthest place inland (from the beach) is only 120 km away, and even that has a river. We’ve got some great bushy reserves, too.

We also love our native animals. The ocean has an abundance of beautiful creatures – whales, dolphins, penguins, etc. And don’t get us started on our birds. We have heaps of choice birds.

If you visit New Zealand, it’s imperative our natural resources are respected. Don’t touch the wildlife, take only photos, leave only footprints, and be aware of any places deemed “tapu” (or sacred) by Māori.

Dress New Zealanders are a casual bunch. Of course, we dress up for special occasions, such as meeting the Prime Minister – provided you haven’t just bumped into her at the shops. Business men and women dress quite corporate, and a very fancy event may require a tuxedo, but don’t be alarmed if you see someone wearing pyjamas to the supermarket (not everyone condones this). Also, bare feet are usually an acceptable form of footwear (this does not mean we are hobbits).

Speaking of Hobbits, Middle Earth is not just west of Wellington. We are not hobbits (some of us are quite tall), and if you go to Milford Sound, you shall pass (if you wish). But if you’re looking for your LOTR fix, you can visit the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata and the land of Mordor in Tongariro National Park.

Politics Jacinda Ardern. Need we say more?

LOTR, Jacinda Ardern, and our sexy accent is not all we’re famous for. OK, no need to bring up the sheep thing – we’re past that. We were first to allow women to vote, split the atom, climb Mount Everest, walk on Antarctica, and bungy jump. We invented the aeroplane, jogging, and the jet unit. We created lamingtons, pavlova, and beef Wellington. We’re also the homeland of Bruce McLaren, Sam Neill, Lorde, Stephen Adams, Sandro Kopp, Jean Batten, Taika Waititi, Rachel Hunter, Burt Munro, and more …. the list is long!

And finally …

Rugby Which we don’t need to really explain; you’ll hear all about it when you get here.

So if you’re ready to dip your bare-footed toes into the pacific waters of New Zealand, explore the land lurking under the long white cloud or try decipher the yarns of Aotearoa-eans, we welcome you, with wide-open sunburnt arms. The kettle’s on already.

And if you get here and fall in love with the place (or just our sexy accent) then pop on down to the NZIL office and we’ll jog you through the journey. Kai pai.

Parent Visa delay: a cynical political tactic to win votes…

 Parent Visa delay:  A cynical political tactic to win votes… Recently, Immigration Minister Iain Lees Galloway, refused to shed any further light on when the future of the Parent Visa Category will be decided – leaving over 5,000 parents of migrants and their New Zealand based families stuck in limbo for two years.

Aaron Martin shares his thoughts regarding the lack of closure, and his belief that this is merely a manipulation tactic to steer migrant votes at the end of the term.

In January we wrote an article regarding the Parent Visa category and the benefits it could bring to the country. The article was written in response to circulating headlines, hinting that a decision to the previously frozen category was close to being made.

Four months later, we are no further ahead.

Migrants are often used unfairly in political point scoring by both sides of the political spectrum, either to scare voters to oppose migration or in areas of high migrant communities to win votes.

Yesterday, it was reported that Immigration Minister, Iain Lees Galloway, refuses to shed any more light on when this decision might be made – leaving over 5,000 parents of migrants and their New Zealand based families stuck in limbo for two years.

Galloway did however say that the decision would be made before the end of the current government term – the final months of next year.

The visa category, which allows parents of migrants with 3+ years permanent New Zealand residency to also reside in the country, was put under a moratorium by the previous government in October 2016.

On Wednesday, the Education and Workforce Select Committee was advised that there were more than 5000 “expressions of interest” from parents wishing to reunite with their New Zealand based families. A single application could represent both parents, meaning the numbers of those in limbo would be significantly higher. Many of them would have already been well on their way through what was certain to be a successful application, before the moratorium was placed, pulling the rug from under their feet.

This does not show the “empathetic Government”, as promised by our current PM.

It shows the Labour Party stringing a carrot, ready to be dangled in front of voters at the end of their term.

It is simply cynical manipulation of recent migrants, hoping that their votes for Labour could lead to the favourable adjustment of the policy.

It’s a similar tactic deployed by the Australian Labour party, who recently announced a generous change to their Parent Visa policies, in order to win over the large migrant communities in Sydney – seats which are hotly contested.

The evidence from past election campaigns predicts that National are likely to match the promise… making migrants (yet again) a political football in the re-election game.

If you need help with visa or any other immigration law issues please do not hesitate to contact the team at NZIL.

Employer accreditation – avoid the log jam and act now

Employers act now: New Zealand Immigration is making changes to the Migrant Work Visa Category

The Government is proposing changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas. These include introducing a new framework for assessing all employer-assisted temporary work visas, and compulsory employer accreditation for those hiring from overseas.

These changes will affect all businesses who wish to employ migrant workers, particularly across the hospitality, construction, and IT industries.

One of the most notable changes to the policy is the legal requirement for all businesses to be accredited before making a migrant hire. The intent is to streamline the visa process, allowing for an employer-led work-visa system, and to decrease migrant exploitation.

While this may ultimately benefit both workers and employers, the process for accreditation isn’t a quick one.

The sudden surge in businesses needing accreditation, coupled with Immigration New Zealand’s current backlog of work (and resulting snail-paced turn-around) is, as RNZ reports, set to “compound existing delays to hiring foreign labour”.

For employers who don’t already understand the system, the accreditation requirement will simply make the process more complicated.

Becoming accredited means that businesses must prove their “trustworthiness” across several areas. There will be several different types of accreditation, but all businesses will have to show evidence of:

  • compliance with labour laws
  • high-practice human resource processes and policies
  • financial stability
  • commitment to increasing worker benefits and pay.
  • Commitment to training and hiring local workers

For roles other than those above a certain wage threshold (above $78,000pa) or on a regional shortage list, labour market testing will also be required. This is to show the company has made an honest attempt to recruit locally.

Employers will also need to prove they have training systems in place to transfer knowledge from migrant workers to local staff, as well as systems to avoid their business becoming reliant on migrant workers.

Then, of course, will be the migrant’s own visa application process.

Now is the time to act. Businesses that want to make a migrant hire in the next 24 months must begin the process now, to avoid the inevitable visa-application log jam.

For more details on these changes, see our article “Employer-Assisted Work Visa Changes Proposed By Government”.

If you would like advice on how your business can become an accredited employer before the changes, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

If you’d like to read about a client who has gone through the employer accreditation process, check out their story here.

 

How to get a New Zealand work visa

­­­­­­­­­How to get a New Zealand Work VisaIf you’re a skilled migrant applying for a New Zealand work visa, you may feel like the process is a job in itself. Navigating all of the visa requirements, conditions, documentation, evidence, categories, and costs can seem a daunting task.

We’ve made this checklist for you as an overview of the process of applying for a skilled migrant visa. However, we recommend you seek assistance from a licensed immigration practitioner when preparing your visa application form.

You can apply for a temporary working visa in New Zealand if you:

  • Have a job offer from a New Zealand employer
  • Are coming for a specific work-related purpose or event
  • Have a partner already in New Zealand, and you want to join them and work
  • Want to get on a working holiday (if you’re between 18 and 30), or
  • Have completed higher level qualifications in New Zealand and want to work.

Visas that lead to permanent residence include the accredited employer, long-term skill shortage, entrepreneur work, Pacific access category, and religious worker visas. All visas are available for people who are 55 years old or younger.

If you want to apply for a work visa you will have to provide either evidence of a current full-time job or a job offer and be registered if your profession demands it. You can do this here.

Before you apply

  1. Make sure your job meets the minimum wage and salary threshold. These thresholds were changed in November 2018, so make sure you check our comprehensive list of the changes here.
  2. Check the ANZSCO code and skill level of the job; and check if the job is on a shortage list.
  3. Gather the employer’s documentation including the fully signed contract, you may also need the employer to show evidence that the job was advertised to the local market and could not be filled by an adequate candidate depending on whether Shortage List requirements are met.
  4. Have proof of your identity (with a valid passport and a photo of a yourself taken within the last six months) and good character (with police certificates from countries you’ve lived in for more than five years since you turned 17). You may also need to provide information about your health, by getting medical certificates or a chest x-ray from a doctor approved by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). All documents not in English, should be translated to English by a professional translator. An immigration adviser and/or immigration lawyer can help you navigate the process. If you are not sure who to ask, read our article Immigration adviser vs immigration lawyer – whose help do you need?
  5. Set up a New Zealand Government RealMe account to upload your digital documents for the online application.

Submitting the visa application

  1. Give your application the best chance of success by getting it checked by a licensed practitioner. Our 90-minute clinic (with immigration lawyer Aaron Martin) is the best way to ensure your New Zealand work visa application is approved.
  2. Submit your paper resident application within six months on the form provided by INZ. Fees and processing times will depend on your location and nationality. You can send your application by post or courier.
  3. If necessary, INZ may ask you for more information to grant you a fair chance to obtain your New Zealand work visa. INZ will let you know about your visa status as soon as it’s decided.

After getting the visa

  1. Once you have your work visa, apply for a tax record number, which you can do through the IRD. You’ll have to give this number to your employer once you have it and use it for all your tax matters.
  2. Be aware of your rights as an employee. Check out our article for all you need to know about migrant worker rights in New Zealand.

Once you have all of the above sorted, you will be well on your way to living and working as a skilled migrant in New Zealand.

The application process for a skilled migrant work visa is very expensive. To ensure the best chance of success we recommend you seek professional advice. Our 90-minute Immigration Clinic appointment is an excellent resource that is designed to help make sure you have all you need to succeed in your application. With over 22 years of experience as an immigration lawyer, Aaron can quickly check your application and let you know if you meet the requirements and have all the appropriate documentation. This can save you thousands of dollars.

Find out more about our 90-minute Immigration Clinic here.

If you’d like help with your skilled migrant visa application, or have any other queries, you can contact the office here.

 

Employer-assisted work visa changes proposed by Government

At the end of last year, the Government released a consultation paper for changes to the employer-assisted work visa. This is the class of work visa issued when the applicant has an offer of employment and the employer proves they cannot find a local to do the job. 

These changes will make it more complicated for an employer to recruit a skilled migrant if they don’t understand the new requirements. Employers in Hospitality, construction and IT services need to prepare themselves now, if they plan to recruit from the skilled migrant pool in the next 24 months.

Changes aim to create an employer-led simplified work visa system. Currently there are six work visa categories: essential skills, approval in principle, talent (accredited employer), work to residence – long term skill shortage list, and Silver Fern visas. The new framework will replace this multitude of application types, rules, and processes with a single pathway.

Conceptually the proposal amalgamates and transforms elements of the original six categories such as visa approval in principle, accredited employer processes, and labour market testing requirements.

Under the new proposals, no labour market testing would be needed for jobs that meet a higher pay threshold. This is similar to the current system of work-to-residence visas issued on the basis of an applicant having a job with accredited employers.

Labour market tests also would not be required for higher-skilled roles that are on regional skill shortage lists. As part of the proposals, new regional lists will be released in mid 2019. These are intended to be better tailored to the needs of the regions than is currently the case.

The new framework has three key parts:
1. The employer check

Employers who want to recruit staff from overseas will have to gain accreditation with Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

The accreditation process pre-clears an employer in terms of satisfying INZ that the employer:

  • is compliant with labour laws
  • has high-practice HR processes and policies and is financially stable to offer employment
  • has a commitment to increasing worker benefits/pay.

Employers will need to present evidence of financial performance, have a commitment to training and up-skilling, and show they put upward pressure on wages and conditions.

The type of accreditation will depend on the needs of the employer. The “standard” accreditation will last for 12 months and is intended for employers who wish to hire expatriate workers without offering a pathway to residence. The “premium” accreditation is for those who wish to offer a pathway to residence through employment with the company.

Obtaining accreditation (of whatever type) will be mandatory for all employers. Those who employ six or more expatriate workers within a 12-month period will be made to seek “premium” accreditation. For employers who employ five or fewer expat workers in a 12-month period, “premium” accreditation will be voluntarily.

2. The job check

This is the labour market test stage of the work visa process. Labour market tests will not be required for jobs above a certain wage threshold or on a regional skill shortage list.

All other roles will undergo labour market testing, where the employer will have to satisfy INZ they have made genuine attempts to recruit locally. But the proposal to increase the wage for the work-to-residence pathway for “premium” accredited employers to $78,000 or $37.50 per hour does seem high.

Given the restrictive nature of the requirements currently in force for the skilled migrant residence visa, the Government will need to ensure it does not create a “hole” whereby valuable workers cannot transition over to residence from work because of pay rate alone.

Employers will need to demonstrate they have training systems to achieve knowledge transfer from migrant workers to local staff and also show there are systems in place to avoid their business becoming dependent on migrant workers.

The expectations of bureaucracies can often be at odds with the reality of private-sector business in this area.

3. The migrant check

This is the actual visa application.

There is a suggestion that capability checks (the assessment of whether the visa applicant is suitably qualified to perform the job) should be undertaken by the employer. My intuitive response is that this is unlikely to happen, given concern within INZ about the potential for abuse.

INZ needs to understand that except for situations where there is abuse and collusion to commit a fraud in the border control area, businesses only hire people they believe can do the work and after they have conducted appropriate checks to ensure that is the case.

Of course, these checks may still result in mistakes being made and an employer hiring someone who has oversold their ability. But the 90-day trial under current employment law and the facilitation of visitor visas to those who are dismissed within that 90 days protects the integrity of the system in these cases.

A warning to employers to become accredited before it is too late.

If accreditation is mandatory, there will be a significant influx of applications into INZ. Businesses will want their applications processed quickly so they can recruit the talent they need in their organisation.

But INZ has had a large budgetary shortfall and is unable to process its current applications quickly due to high volumes. It does not have the resources to deal with more work.

This change represents a resource issue that will need to be addressed to make the process workable for employers, especially if the Government wants this process to be “employer-led”.

I advise any employer who knows that they will be recruiting skilled migrants to apply to become accredited now under the existing system and avoid the backlog at INZ that will come once the new visa criteria and processes are in place.

If you’d like to read more of Aaron’s thoughts on the Employer Assisted Work Visa, check out our previous blog: Employer assisted visas: addressing the unwritten trade-off…

If you’d like to discuss any of your immigration or visa concerns, get in touch with us here.