Category Archives: News

Post-study visa changes: November updates

News and information on NZ post-study visas
New Zealand Post-study visa changes came into full effect November 26th 2018. We cover the changes and the implications for migrants and Kiwi employers.

Changes to post-study work visas came into effect yesterday. The most significant change, as discussed in our previous article “Employer Assisted Visas: addressing the unwritten trade off” is the removal of the employer’s company name on the visa. Open visas will take its place, a positive not only for migrants but for local employers as well.

The new visa categories are:

  • A three-year post-study open work visa for those who have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification
  • A one-year post-study open work visa for those studying New Zealand Qualifications Framework level 4-6 and non-degree level 7 qualifications. An additional year is available for graduate diploma students who are working towards registration with a professional or trade body, and
  • A “time-bound” two-year post-study open work visa for students studying level 4-6 and non-degree level 7 qualifications outside Auckland (study must be completed before 2021).

To make sure current tertiary students and post-study work visa holders aren’t disadvantaged, Immigration New Zealand has also introduced the following.

  • Students who held a student visa or were in the process of applying for a student visa to study towards an eligible qualification as at 8 August 2018 can apply for a three-year post-study open work visa on completion of their qualification.
  • Students in this category who have previously had a one-year open post-study work visa can apply for a two-year post-study open work visa on completion of their qualification.
  • Those who currently hold a one-year post-study work visa can apply for a further two-year open post-study work visa.
  • Those who currently hold an Employer Assisted Work Visa can apply to vary the conditions of their visa and remove the occupation, employer, and location restrictions.

These changes will allow migrant students and graduates greater freedom to change jobs and compete on an even playing-field with local candidates. Much of the exploitation of migrants that we have seen in the news is due to the visa restrictions that tied migrants to one eligible employer in order to work and live in the country. Now that migrant workers are not dependent on one employer they are free to find a better role if work conditions and pay aren’t adequate. They will also have more freedom to move to roles more suited to their desired career.

The visa changes mean that future students will need to undertake courses of a much higher calibre to secure work rights after study. In accordance, the educational threshold for entry and the English standard of those coming to New Zealand will be higher. This is a clear benefit for employers as it will make for a greater selection of candidates with higher skill sets. The changes also mean employers do not need to be so involved in an employee’s post-study work visa process, which saves employers time and inconvenience.

All change comes with some uncertainty, but overall these changes will be of huge benefit to both migrants and local employers. Hopefully this will pave the way for other visa categories to be reviewed.

For a full list of changes, have a look at the Immigration New Zealand resource here.

If you want to talk about your post-study visa options, or have any other immigration law concerns, contact the NZIL office here.

Work visa wage rate increase

 

Information about the increased wage threshold for NZ visas coming into effect Nov 26 2018

The Government-imposed increase in wage and salary thresholds will come into effect from November 26, for both the Essential Skills Work Visa and the Skilled Migrant Residence Visa.

This increase has major implications for both migrants and employers. The inflation is based on new calculations of the “average” wage rate in relation to an increase in the cost of living.

Here is the overview of the rate changes for each visa category affected:

Hourly rates from 26 November 2018

From 26 November 2018, we are making changes to what an applicant in the Skilled Migrant Category must earn.

Threshold Between 15 January 2018 and 25 November 2018 From 26 November 2018
Threshold for skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3 $24.29 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $25.00 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold for skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 4-5, or which is not included in ANZSCO $36.44 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $37.50 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold to earn bonus points $48.58 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $50.00 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

 

After 26 November 2018, we are making changes to what an applicant in the Essential Skills work visa category must earn.

Threshold Between 15 January 2018 and 25 November 2018 From 26 November 2018
Threshold for mid-skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3 $20.65 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $21.25 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold for higher skilled employment in any occupation (including those at ANZSCO 4-5) $36.44 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $37.50 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

 

FAQs:

What if I am a current Essential Skills work visa holder and my job does not meet the new threshold? What if I’m an employer and one of my staff hold a current visa but their wage does not meet the new threshold?

Ans: Visas that people already hold will not be affected. Changes to the income thresholds will not affect the duration or conditions of visas that have already been granted.

If you apply for, or have applied for, an Essential Skills work visa and your application was received by INZ before 26 November 2018, the old thresholds will be used to assess your application and determine your visa application. Only new applications made on or after 26 November 2018 will be assessed against the new threshold.

This may mean the conditions or visa duration of the next visa could be different. For example, a chef paid $21 an hour would currently be considered mid-skilled, as the occupation is ANZSCO level 2 and the pay is above the existing threshold of $20.65. However, if they applied for a further visa after 26 November, they would be considered low skilled, unless their pay increased to above the new threshold of $21.25.

If I am an employer who has already advertised and prepared to support an Essential Skills work visa, but the person cannot get his application in before 26 November 2018, what happens then?

Ans: If an application is received and accepted after 26 November 2018, the new thresholds will apply, even if, for example, the employment agreement has been signed prior to 26 November 2018.

What happens if I was invited to apply for the Skilled Migrant Category under the old thresholds?

Ans: We will assess your application against the thresholds in place on the date your expression of interest (EOI) was selected from the Pool, if that selection results in an invitation to apply. For example, if your EOI was selected on 21 November and you were invited to apply before 30 November, the old remuneration thresholds will apply, even though you weren’t invited to apply until after the new thresholds were introduced.

If you are concerned about your visa status based on these changes, get in touch with our team here.

Temporary work visa cost increased

IMNZ is increasing the visa fees for all visa types from November 5th.

Immigration NZ is a mostly user-pays system, but lost $20m from work visas alone last year, suggesting the price paid for them no longer covered the cost of processing them.
The main increase will apply to the temporary work visa category which will increase from $380 to $580.
In a Cabinet paper, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said an increase in migrant trafficking and exploitation was to blame for increasing visa processing costs. Checks were becoming more rigourous, therefore taking longer.
Immigration NZ’s memorandum account was set for the $43m deficit by the end of the 2017 financial year.
That was despite investing $140m in technology to move visa processing online.
Immigration NZ deputy chief executive Greg Patchell said without the technology investment, its accounts would have been further in the red and the proposed increase on visas would be higher.
“The changes are actually making it more efficient to process visas, however the risk situation changes, therefore other things come on board at the same time.”
Mr Patchell said the increase in visa pricing would not necessarily reduce processing times.
Along with other changes, such as increasing the cost for employers to gain an accreditation from Immigration by 20 percent, that would balance Immigration NZ’s account within three years.
You can download the full list of fee increases here: New visa fees

Employer Assisted Visas: addressing the unwritten trade-off…

Last month it was announced that changes are being made to the conditions of the Employer Assisted Work Visa. If Kiwi employers allow for it, these changes won’t only be a win for new migrant graduates, protecting them against exploitation, but for Kiwi employers as well.

Upcoming Immigration law changes in November mean holders of Employer Assisted Work Visas will no longer have to name their employer on their visa. Currently, when an employer is noted on a visa it is a condition of the visa that the holder remain in that employment with that employer for the duration of the visa.

This change will allow a new cohort of graduating international students to secure work rights for a three-year period to work for any employer.

This will give those seeking work experience relevant to their qualification a much greater chance in gaining meaningful employment that not only benefits them but also New Zealand. It will hopefully stop the gross under-utilisation of skill and talent we see where young international students who have completed good tertiary-level qualifications end up in jobs well below their skill level, often being paid very poorly.

Having a work visa that permits employment with any employer evens the playing field. These migrants can now fully participate in a free labour market and move to better positions commensurate with their skill level if new opportunities arise. This will prevent many becoming captive to unscrupulous employers who underpay for the skill level of the role being performed as some form of unwritten trade-off for supporting visa applications.

I hope this change will also encourage more New Zealand employers to consider hiring from this group of ambitious young professionals. Employers will hopefully no longer be frightened off by visa expiry dates and the perceived complexity of becoming involved in immigration matters.

If you’re wondering how this will affect your current Employer Assisted Work Visa, contact NZIL

If you’d like to read an Employer Assisted Work Visa success story, click here.

If you’d like to know other benefits of hiring a migrant, check out our last article.

For other migrant information check out our Migrant Resources.

If you’re thinking about hiring a migrant, read our Employer Checklist

Bureaucratic insanity, the Immigration law that caused over-staying…

The introduction of interim visas was a welcomed change, but a major flaw in the process resulted in many people illegally overstaying in New Zealand, despite legitimately trying to follow the law. Recent changes have amended, but not without leaving a number of serious implications for migrants.

Immigration New Zealand’s own processes around Interim Visas have been increasing the number of over-stayers in New Zealand. Thank fully, Immigration New Zealand changed their policy on the 27th of August to address this issue.

Interim visas are what Australians sensibly call “bridging visas”. If Immigration New Zealand can’t make a decision on a new visa application before the applicant’s existing visa expires, it can issue an electronic interim visa to allow the applicant to stay in the country until the decision is made.

Prior to the introduction of interim visas, if your existing visa expired and Immigration New Zealand hadn’t decided on your application for a new one, you became an over-stayer. So Immigration New Zealand’s own timeliness in decision-making (or lack of timeliness) contributed to creating a pool of over-stayers.

Interim visas were intended to stop that problem. But there was a fundamental flaw in their operation: they expired the day after a decision was made on an application.

If you made a new application on 1 June, and your existing visa expired 1 July, the interim visa would start 2 July to allow you to stay here lawfully until a decision was made. But if Immigration New Zealand declined the new application after 1 July, your interim visa would end one day after that decision, making you an over-stayer.

That one day became crucial to many: you could use it to apply for reconsideration of the decline decision, or to reapply for the same visa.

Applications for reconsideration, however, required you to submit your passport to Immigration New Zealand along with the request for reconsideration. If your passport was held by Immigration New Zealand when the decision to decline the visa was made, you often wouldn’t get it back until three working days later. That meant you were unlawful in New Zealand, and being unlawful meant you lost the right of reconsideration.

Even if you had your passport, if the decision to decline your application was made late in the day on a Friday, by Monday when Immigration New Zealand opened to receive a reconsideration application, you were unlawful in New Zealand and therefore not allowed to apply for reconsideration.

This bureaucratic insanity meant many people legitimately trying to follow the law ended up illegally in New Zealand.

Even when people in this situation decided to leave New Zealand, the practical reality of packing up a life meant they would have a period of over-staying. This would then prejudice their ability to obtain visas offshore in order to return to New Zealand.

Think of all the things you need to do when moving countries: if you have rented a house, you need to give notice in accordance with the tenancy agreement. If you are in a job, you need to give notice in accordance with your employment agreement. You have to close bank accounts, sell cars, and sell personal possessions. You need to arrange accommodation back in your home country – which you may have not lived in sometimes for five years or more. All these things simply can’t be done in 24 hours.

For people who complied with the law, moved back overseas, and applied for a visa to re-enter, Immigration New Zealand would often consider any period of unlawful presence in New Zealand as a basis for claiming the applicant was non-compliant with visa rules and therefore should not be permitted to re-enter New Zealand. This decision was made for people who did not intend, want, or deliberately become over-stayers.

Finally, Immigration New Zealand has followed the Australian model and now the interim visa expires 21 days after a decision is made. This permits a practical window of opportunity for people to challenge a decision that may be incorrectly made. Or, alternatively, it gives them a realistic and practical period of time to leave New Zealand.

It is unfortunate that the change comes after so many people have had their immigration history destroyed by poor policy.

Worried about deportation? Have a look at our deportation page here.

If you have questions regarding the Interim Visa or any other recent policy changes, please contact us here.

For more migrant information and resources, have a look here.

Will the new KiwiBuild visa cut the mustard for migrant workers?

KiwiBuild visa changes

On the 27th of June the Government announced it is revising the KiwiBuild visa scheme and changing immigration settings to try to address New Zealand’s shortage in construction workers. But will these changes address the issues?

New Zealand as a destination is a difficult sell even for large construction companies. It takes a lot to get a builder from the UK to move to New Zealand, where the cost of living is high but the wages are not.

It’s even harder if you can’t offer that person the certainty of residence. If the potential talent that might be recruited using these schemes can’t get a residence visa, the ability of employers to attract that talent will be compromised.

Continue reading Will the new KiwiBuild visa cut the mustard for migrant workers?

Kiwibuild visa replaced with new Kiwibuild skills shortage list

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The Government has scrapped its KiwiBuild Visa plan in favour of wider proposed changes to immigration settings to fix a 30,000 worker gap in construction.

The government-is trying to make the process easier for employers to recruit the staff they need to work in construction and fast track the immigration process for workers who meet the right criteria.

The proposed changes include a KiwiBuild Skills Shortages list which would set up a simplified process for employers to quickly hire overseas workers in critical roles without Immigration NZ needing to conduct a market test each time.

Continue reading Kiwibuild visa replaced with new Kiwibuild skills shortage list

Migrant employers need to get the record straight…

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Migrant employers need to get the record straight…

Employers hiring migrants have been making headlines lately for breaching immigration and employment law. Leading immigration lawyer Aaron Martin and solicitor Eleanor Gregan of Davenports Harbour Law discuss the most common mistakes made by migrant employers and how to avoid them.

From 1 April 2017, employers who incur a penalty for breaching employment standards have faced a stand-down period preventing them from recruiting migrant labour. The stand-down period is for six months, one year, 18 months, or two years, depending on the severity of the breach.

Continue reading Migrant employers need to get the record straight…

Stop the cynical political point scoring- its time to address the real issues…

Principle lawyer at NZIL  Aaron Martin, weighs in on the recent comments in the media from Michael Woodhouse about a suggested amnesty for illegal construction workers.

The criticism by National Party spokesman for Immigration, Michael Woodhouse, of the current Minister for possibly looking at an amnesty is cynical political points scoring of the worst order.

Continue reading Stop the cynical political point scoring- its time to address the real issues…

Storm in a teacup

Workers in demand have always been able to be recruited offshore.

Property developers Fu Wah have been in the news lately for moves to recruit construction workers from China. The Beijing-based construction company is applying for short-term work visas for 200 workers to complete the fit-out of new luxury Auckland hotel Park Hyatt by March next year.

Continue reading Storm in a teacup