Analysis of the new immigration law changes has so far focused on the effects on the economy and the flow of migrants. But there are several other ramifications of the recent law changes that have been overlooked.
*Editors note: Since this article was published, Immigration NZ have amended the visa pay thresholds. Therefore, we have updated the figures in this article to reflect the figures as of the 26th of November 2018.
As the changes restrict pathways to residence under the skilled migrant category, New Zealand employers will find it more difficult to fill positions. Some employers may have roles available that would have been previously been defined as skilled jobs but with the new income thresholds that will no longer be the case.
Under the new rules, skill level 1-3 roles will no longer be considered highly skilled unless the salary is over $52,000. This will affect industries where the local labour pool is not adequate to meet the demand.
Changes to the required wage threshold for migrants will also hit employers who have existing employees on work visas. Employees holding essential skills work visas who earn less than this will now have to leave New Zealand after 3 years, and face a stand-down period before they can apply for another visa. This means an employer will have to find and train someone else for the role.
The salary threshold will particularly affect provincial employers who cannot meet the salary threshold to allow their migrant worker to transition to residence.
“I believe the government is attempting to reduce the flow of migrants, and attract only the top echelon of skilled labour who meet the new criteria for a pathway to residency. The consequences of these new restrictions will have a severe impact on employers and New Zealand businesses in an already limited labour market.” Aaron Martin, immigration law expert.
Another major change that will affect employers is that partners and children of migrants on a work visa will be given only visitor visas. Partners and children will no longer automatically be entitled to a work or student visa themselves, and will gain these visas if they meet the requirements in their own right, or are prepared to become international students. This further limits the options for employers who are finding it difficult to fill lower-skilled roles.
“We’re facing a major skills shortage and now it is even more difficult to recruit from offshore. The overall impact will be businesses will find it increasingly hard to find the talent pool that they need” says Aaron Martin.