The Year Ahead

2022 is going to be an interesting year for immigration law changes as there is a lot of new laws that employers and migrants need to be aware of.

For employers:

Accreditation status will become mandatory from 4 July 2022.

This means, if an employer wants to support a work visa application, the business must be accredited.

Applications for accreditation status can be filed from 7 May onwards (assuming INZ has its act together and the system in place for applications).

In mid-2022, the final changes to the work visa system will be in place. At this time, the three-stage application process will be introduced. This will mean significant changes to labour market testing, in addition to the requirement to become an accredited employer.

On 30 June the preferential rules that allow existing employees to obtain 2- or 3-year work visas to remain in their current jobs (without the employer having to advertise the role) will come to an end.

What do employers need to consider now?

It’s important that employers are preparing for accreditation status to avoid delays in hiring new employees who require a work visa. They should also be familiarising themselves with the new advertising requirements associated with the changes to labour market testing.

Employers should be gauging existing employees on work visas to establish whether they are applying for residence under the 2021 Resident Visa. This will help determine whether they require standard or high-volume accreditation status; or, whether they need to make an application for a new 2- or 3-year work visa under the preferential rules before they come to an end.

Download our free guide for employers where we describe what you need to do to be prepared for accreditation.

For migrant communities:

For those work visa holders not eligible under the 2021 Resident Visa, there is the anticipated launch of the revised Skilled Migrant Category. Expect higher English language requirements, higher points threshold to qualify, and a restructure of the number of points awarded for job offers and work experience. This has been promised for mid-2022, but Minister Faafoi is not known for being able to meet targets.

2021 Resident Visa phase two applications can be filed from 1 March 2022. The 2021 Resident Visa will finish on 31 July 2022. If you are eligible your application must be filed by this date.

Median wage changes

With the median wage being used to determine duration of work visas issued and whether a job is skilled, wage inflation from a closed border could see a significant move.

In the year to June 2021, median hourly earnings from wages and salaries increased 2.8 percent to $27.76. I would anticipate that increase moving into immigration instructions at a similar rate, with $27.50 or $27.70 becoming the median rate when the new work visa regime is introduced.

Of course, by this time, ‘apparently’ there won’t be many work visa holders left, as by then they should – if you can believe such an under-performing organisation and minister – be resident visa holders under the 2021 Resident Visa category.

Your opportunity to obtain a 2- or 3-year work visa to carry out the same role for the same employer without the employer having to advertise will end in June 2022. So it is wise to consider whether to apply for a new work visa even if you have a year or two left on your current one.

Border reopening

The million-dollar question is … when will the border open, and how? This Government still has no plan other than vague statements related to entry of New Zealanders without the need to go through MIQ at some point.

There is a lot of talk of reconnecting to New Zealand but not a lot of action in explaining how this is going to occur. The biggest bugbear of course is MIQ – there’s not much point in getting a visa if you still have to wait six months or more to get a spot.

Annoyingly, the Government still seems to be winging it on this aspect with little capacity or appetite for innovative or alternative solutions.

If you need help or advice about your work, residency, or partnership visa, get in touch with our team.

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