Tag Archives: Visa information

South Africa visa changes: New Zealand won’t be reciprocating

South Africa visa Changes: New Zealand won’t be reciprocatingLast week, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs announced that New Zealand has been added back onto their list of visa-waiver countries.

Initially included in the list, New Zealand was removed in 2016 in response to our own implementation of compulsory visas for all South African travellers entering this country. Immigration New Zealand put this into place due to an increase of overstayers, false documentation, and questionable integrity of applications and supporting documentation amid the deteriorating situation in South Africa.

Given the ongoing circumstances, Immigration New Zealand’s lack of reciprocation is unsurprising – even understandable. Visas are the only real way for authorities to assess an individual’s risk in terms of border control. From a cost perspective, it’s best to vet people before they get on a plane.

But, of course, there are implications.

New Zealand’s insistence on South African travellers having a visa creates a barrier for those with skills we need to come and search for work. With ongoing strain on New Zealand employers due to gaps in the labour force, one would hope there could be an easier system.

The way the New Zealand residence system is currently set up, it is easier to immigrate if you have a job offer. But New Zealand employers are reluctant to hire without actually having met a potential hire. And gaining a visa for job-searching purposes can be difficult. If applicants are required to return to South Africa to apply for a work visa once they have the job offer, it is incredibly frustrating for employers and potential employees alike. It’s also a hellishly big cost and a considerably difficult process.

Perhaps if New Zealand is trying to attract talent for our critical labour shortage, the Government could consider explicitly providing a job seeker’s visa.

Of course, it is difficult for border control to address everyone’s concerns. There would need to be some form of restriction and policing mechanisms to prevent unsuccessful job seekers from becoming a problem. It’s hard to find a halfway house to address the issue of risk.

For this reason, it is unlikely anything will change.

The full announcement made by the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Dr A. Motsoaledi, as part of a speech regarding the occasion of the Home Affairs Budget Vote can be read here: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/statements-speeches/1269-speech-delivered-by-the-minister-of-home-affairs-hon-dr-aaron-motsoaledi-on-the-occasion-of-the-home-affairs-budget-vote

If you have any immigration law queries you wish to discuss, you can contact New Zealand Immigration Law here.

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 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

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.

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.

Migrant parent health insurance requirements would reduce taxpayer risk

Migrant parent health insurance requirements would reduce taxpayer risk

Recent headlines have announced that the New Zealand Government is close to making a decision on whether or not they will reopen the parent visa category. This decision will provide much needed clarity to the almost 6,000 people who have been waiting in anticipation since the category closed in 2016.

This article discusses the apprehension of some around the reopening of this category, and the positives associated with allowing migrant’s parents to make New Zealand their home.

The parent visa category, which may be reopened soon, is criticised as too costly to the taxpayer. But perhaps the problem lies in the policy settings that permit access to welfare and health services.

Pundits expect the Government will soon make a decision on whether to reopen the parent visa category.

The category, which allowed parents to join their adult children in New Zealand if they were a resident or citizen, was closed in late 2016 to clear a backlog of applications. Almost 6000 people have been in limbo for over two years at different stages in the process.

This decision will be tough for the Government, and tough for the Minister of Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway.

The Minister knows there is a portion of the community who have migrated here and contributed to the country but feel unsettled because of separation from their parents.

When the child migrated those parents were probably young, healthy, and safe. But as decades pass and the children see their parents age, they instinctively want to protect and look after them. The parents are often alone without support in their home country, so the children want their parents here to make sure they are looked after.

There is also benefit for these migrants in having their parents with them in New Zealand. The parents can often provide substantial support to children juggling commitments to their own children and new careers, along with the pressures of settling in a new country.

On the flip-side, the Minister knows that old age brings a significant draw on Government systems, particularly health, disability services, and age care. And parents without English language ability require further support to be able to access health and social services.

The Minister also has a coalition partner with a vocal opposition to the parent category. If he reopens the category, he will have to “give that barking dog a bone”.

It seems right we should permit entry to those who had applied but were then put into limbo. They had a legitimate expectation of an outcome, and applied based on set and publicised criteria.

But some have called for the parent category to be closed based on anecdotal evidence of children bringing parents here and then leaving New Zealand taxpayers to look after them while they go overseas to presumably pursue economic opportunities.

This stance focuses on the costs of parental migration. There is a danger of seeing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Migrating parents do have value. As well as an economic benefit they also provide a social benefit that in my view has not been adequately researched or quantified. It is a significant benefit to society when grandparents can look after grandchildren and allow the parents of those grandchildren to work to improve the lot of the family unit. Migrating parents can add capital to their child’s endeavours toward buying a house or starting a business. This is economic development of a family that should be encouraged.

Many people complain that migrating parents cost too much to the taxpayer. But maybe the problem is the policy settings that permit access to welfare and health services?

The current Immigration Act already permits imposition of conditions on residence. Yet successive National and Labour Governments have refused to use it to require the holding of health insurance. And they have refused to permit Government hospitals to invoice those who have migrated under the parent category and who could afford such insurance.

Why? These actions would surely address the issues highlighted by critics of this policy.

We could also easily control access to state pensions when there is no record of beneficial investment or payment of tax. All it would take is some policy tweaks.

Why won’t the Government address the issues using mechanisms already available under the Immigration Act, and by adjusting other policy settings in health and welfare? Mankind put a man on the moon over half a century ago so don’t tell me this would be too hard!

 

If you have other questions regarding New Zealand Immigration Law, you can check out our Migrant Resource page here, or contact the office here.

New construction shortage list, unlikely to alleviate skill shortage…

New construction shortage list, unlikely to alleviate skill shortage…

The Government recently established the new Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL) to address the ongoing problem of short supply of construction workers in New Zealand. But the new list scheme is likely to be too rigid to be effective, and will put off the very migrant workers it claims to encourage.

The CISSL came into effect December 2018. It’s intended to increase the available skill base of construction workers so the Government can make good on its construction and infrastructure commitments, including the KiwiBuild project. It replaces and cancels the Canterbury Skill Shortage List and absorbs various construction roles from the Immediate Skill Shortage List.

The main drawback of the list is that it is overly prescriptive, with unduly specific qualification requirements.

In the new scheme, employers recruiting migrant workers to positions on the list will no longer need to show they have advertised the role locally in order for a work visa to be issued if:

  1. The duties of the job substantially match the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) description of the role
  2. The visa applicant has the qualifications and/or experience as stated on the list for that occupation
  3. The job is located in the region specified on the list.

For example, an employer looking to hire a stonemason will not have to advertise the role if the position description substantially matches INZ’s description for that job; the applicant has a qualification comparable to a New Zealand Level 4 qualification with a credit or knowledge requirement of the New Zealand Certificate in Capstone Masonry; and the job is in the Auckland region, the Upper North Island, or Canterbury.

However, if the role was in New Plymouth the employer would have to advertise the job locally before they could get a work visa for a new employee. And if the position was in Auckland but the visa applicant did not have the qualification, the employer would also have to advertise the role.

The qualification requirements add a new layer of messy complication to an already arduous visa assessment process. To obtain a visa, an applicant must now have an overseas qualification comparable to a New Zealand qualification. For example, a carpenter from overseas must show their qualification compares to a New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4). Equivalence will be determined by a New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) assessment of the overseas qualification. (The only exception is if the qualification is on an INZ list of those exempt from NZQA assessment.)

This NZQA assessment process will add time and cost to work visa applications. But it will provide a nice secondary income stream from the migration process directly to another government agency. In the old days this was known as “jobs for the boys”.

More frustratingly, the qualification requirements assume that overseas qualifications will have the same structure or content as New Zealand qualifications.

Take, for example, an employer who wants to hire a migrant to be a Site Foreman (Project Builder) in Canterbury. The visa applicant’s overseas qualification will need to be comparable to a New Zealand bachelor degree or a qualification that has the equivalent of 360 credits. Additionally, the qualification will have to have a major comparable to a New Zealand major in quantity survey in or construction economics.

How many New Zealand site foreman currently building in Canterbury have a bachelor degree with a major in quantity surveying or construction economics? And how many overseas qualifications in the building sector are going to be at bachelor level, with these specified majors?

If the Government was serious about addressing skill shortages in these particular sectors, the qualification requirement would reflect what matters most: the experience and ability of the applicant to perform the work. That is not measured by an academic qualification. Most employers in the sector are more concerned with the level of experience a candidate has and the competency that reflects.

In the occupations associated with the trades there is also a repeated emphasis on the applicant obtaining licensed building practitioner (LBP) status. Why would a migrant worker want to acquire LBP status and take on the personal liability under the Building Act for his or her employer’s projects?

Additionally, some positions on the list require that the applicant already has New Zealand experience. That seems curious. It indicates that for those roles the list cannot be used for first-time work visa applicants. Was the list intended to benefit only those renewing existing visas who are already working in a position on the list?

I believe the list’s overly specific qualification requirements are all about achieving a coalition-Government compromise. The list allows the Minister to appear to be doing something to address skill shortage issues but also panders to New Zealand First’s desire to limit immigration by introducing rules so restrictive many won’t be able to or won’t want to take advantage of it.

The list reeks of a solution developed by office workers with pointed leather shoes parked under a comfortable desk on a cold Wellington day. Perhaps if they had allowed those in hard hats and steel-capped safety boots to create the scheme it would identify in a more practical manner the skills (that is, the experience) employers need on the ground. Perhaps the result might not be so flaccid.

If you have any questions about these changes, or need help with another immigration issue, get in touch with us here.

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.

Increase in work visa thresholds will only add to skilled labour crisis

New Zealand Work Visa

The skilled-labour crisis is about to get worse, thanks to increases in minimum wage rates for skilled migrant workers.

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, demonstrating the insanity of pay rate being a proxy for skill.

In a free labour market, supply and demand are supposed to determine wage/salary rates. But in the labour market for migrant workers, the Government is directly influencing wages under the guise of pay being a proxy for skill level.

The metric is artificial and arbitrary. It’s designed to make things easier for bureaucrats to manage but has become an overly complex system with unintended and major consequences for migrant employees and employers alike.

Implications for employers:

The new thresholds will increase pressure on staffing costs for employers in the healthcare, trade, and hospitality sectors if they wish to keep migrants whose wage/salary sits below these thresholds.

Recently some healthcare workers managed to get a pay increase to $24.65 – partly based on the pay parity case brought by care worker Kristine Bartlett. This put some migrants in the healthcare sector within reach of residence.

The threshold increases mean this residence is no longer a realistic reality. This could mean a loss of valuable human resources for employers as these workers either give up, move into other sectors, or leave the country, tired of being stuck on what seems like an endless round of work visas with no end in sight.

These issues will also impact employers in the hospitality sector. Pathways to residence for occupations in this sector that are more junior will now prove more difficult. A survey of wage rates nationally showed they varied considerably across the regions, but on average a senior chef de partie earned about $45,000, well below the cut-off level. If these valuable employees have no potential to attain residence, we will lose them.

The new thresholds will also introduce difficult pay parity issues for employers. The new wage rates that migrants require as dictated by Government policy are out of kilter with market increases across the board. Employers will not be able to simply pay migrants the extra required without also raising the wages of their local workers. How could they justify this to the local staff? Any pay disparity will engender a level of upward wage pressure for everyone. Many employers are not in a position to be able to raise wages across the board.

Implications for migrants: 

Work Visa

Immigration New Zealand uses pay rates as part of the process of determining the skill level of a job. This determines the length of visa allocated and has flow-on impact for a migrant’s ability to bring family into New Zealand under this category.

Under the new rules:

  • For skill level 1-3 occupations you will need a pay rate of $21.25 to get a three-year work visa (up from $20.65)

  • For skill level 4 and 5 occupations you will need an hourly rate of $37.50 to secure a three-year visa (up from $36.44).

For example, a chef paid $21 an hour would currently be considered mid-skilled, and get a three-year visa. If the same person applies after 26 November, they will be considered low-skilled, and only get a one-year visa.

Residence

For residence purposes, the pay rates you need to have a job classified as skilled will increase from 26 November. If you are not being paid at least $25 for a ANZSCO skill level 1-3 role, the job won’t be considered skilled for visa purposes. The skilled remuneration threshold for ANZSCO skill level 4 and 5 occupations has also increased to $37.50 per hour. So, the minimum required salary threshold will be $52,000.

What will this mean in practice? Under the current rules, a person in a skill level 3 job (which includes many trades) who is paid, say, $24.50 per hour is regarded as in skilled employment and has a chance at residence. After 26 November, they will no longer be regarded as being in skilled employment and will lose that opportunity.

In addition, under the new rules, to get bonus points for an occupation with “high remuneration” you will need an hourly rate of $50.

 Macro considerations

How do you explain to a person that when they go to bed they are regarded as in skilled employment and eligible for residence, but when they wake up the job is not regarded as skilled employment?

How do you explain to somebody that when they go to bed they are eligible for a three-year work visa because their job is regarded as mid-skilled, but when they wake up they are only eligible for a one-year work visa because now their job is regarded as low-skilled?

Furthermore, how do you explain to employers that their staff will need a pay rise if you want to keep them?

In a time where employers are crying out for skilled migrants, these changes are an arbitrary and illogical hurdle against solving our skilled worker shortage. The changes also clearly demonstrate the lack of deep-thinking around implications of arbitrary measures of “scoring eligibility” used by Immigration New Zealand.

To see the full schedule of changes, click here. 

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