ANZSCO changes will make residency easier for some

Surprise news for migrants recently, with Immigration NZ announcing changes to ANZSCO settings just a month after they revealed they are going to scrap the system for work visas from 2020.

Principle lawyer for NZIL, Aaron Martin discusses the implications and opportunities these changes will have on the migrant community.

The Ansco Reset gives some low skilled migrants residency options

Between now and March 2020 there is a small window where migrants who work in industries like aged care will have a realistic chance to get residency for the first time.  This is due to ANZSCO skill levels being reclassified in Australia and some of those changes are being applied here too.

What many seem to have missed in this latest announcement is that a small technical change, moving some low-skilled roles into a better classification and New Zealand’s decision to follow Australia’s lead, gives migrants currently working in those roles a chance to secure residency.

Immigration lawyer Aaron Martin spotted the benefits instantly and says the latest re-gig is great news but only for those who act fast.  “In all likelihood there is going to be an increase in the minimum pay amount required for skill level 1-3 jobs from $25 to $25.50 per hour and, while it doesn’t sound much, that is not the point,” explains Martin.

As an experienced immigration lawyer, Mr Martin understands how even a small change plays out.  “The point is right now, “yahoo, I am eligible” but very soon it will be ‘I am 50 cents short, but I am doing the same job’.  For those in the care sector that’s quite important because getting your wages up in those roles is hard going,” says Martin.  “It might only be 50 cents but for some employers, if they employ a large number of staff, that is a lot of money.”

Mr Martin also highlights that meeting higher wage targets is something that is out of a migrant worker’s control, with both an employer and Immigration NZ impacting their ability to qualify for a visa.  “With immigration it is always get in while the settings are good,” says Martin, “you snooze, you lose.  When the settings are in your favour don’t umm and ahh because what you might discover is that the settings change and your opportunity disappears.”

ANZSCO list boosts some skill level 1-3 jobs

While the government has made a number of very public changes to immigration settings in recent months, this update was not released with great fanfare.  The tweaks are the first major changes to the skill classification system since it began in 2006, so are clearly long overdue, but our government hasn’t led these changes.

The Australian government is still using ANZSCO and is adjusting their classifications to work better rather than abandoning them all together, like New Zealand.

When Australia altered the skill bands for certain roles, New Zealand adopted some of the same classifications but only until 2020 when the ANZSCO list will be scrapped for work visa applications.  From that point New Zealand will use pay banding to reflect how skilled jobs are for visa applications. This is likely to be applied to residence visa settings

New threshold for skilled migrant category

Because the government only just announced ANZSCO would no longer to be used in work and residence visa applications from 2020, this second announcement, revealing the reset of skill levels for some jobs in that system, seems very confusing.

Aaron Martin warns that it might not end there.  “We are going to go from testing the skill level of a job using ANZSCO and the pay level to just using pay only for work visas come 2020.  But we don’t know if that is also going to be the case for resident visas in the skill migrant category as well,” he says.

“The government annually review the threshold for skilled employment for work or residence visas so that could mean a lot of migrants end up chasing their tail.”  Martin goes on to explain how important it is to be aware of the continual adjustments to the system.  “It could be ‘Oh great, they changed ANSZCO so now I can be seen as skilled’ one minute but week later, ‘they have changed the pay rate, so I am back to where I was.’ “

Jobs helped by ANZSCO code changes

The current window of opportunity is positive news for migrants employed in the aged care sector and a long list of other professions – from beauty therapists to train drivers.  It heralds the first time many will have a realistic chance of becoming permanent residents and Martin has one piece of advice for them.  “If you don’t ask you don’t get, and with border control you rarely even get a change to ask,” he says.

“I think the current settings on work visas means some migrants are getting a break but the automation of the rules that revise pay bands annually could end up negating that.  In six months you could think ‘I am ready to go and all prepared to apply’, then there is another round of pay rate reviews and you are no longer eligible.

His advice to migrants, “If you got what it takes, get in fast.”

If your job has been reclassified on the ANZSCO code list, it’s a good idea to you talk to an immigration lawyer now.  If you have any questions about these changes and where they leave you, please do not hesitate to contact the office either through our website, or by emailing, or calling +64 (0) 9 869 2952.


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