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Work visa changes 2021

Work visa changes 2021

Proposed changes on the New Zealand work visa system

The New Zealand Government is proposing a major overhaul of employer-assisted work visas by 2021. This will need the removal of existing work visa policies and accreditation system in favour of a more employer-lead system.

It will not impact existing work visa holders.

What are the changes?

New Zealand Immigration will bring in a series of progressive changes in their work visa policies over the next 18 months. These changes will impact migrant workers as well as New Zealand employers. 6 existing visas will be replaced by one single temporary work visa:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa, and
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

The employer “Approval In Principle” and current accreditation scheme will also be phased out.

Proposed changes

  • the work visa application process will change, being now led by the employer rather than the migrant, it will involve:
    1. An employer check — all employers, including those with an existing accreditation, will need to seek a new accreditation under the new process.
    2. A job check — market rate will still be used to ensure migrant workers are paid in line with New Zealanders. A labour market check will also be required to ensure New Zealanders are not available to fill a role.
    3. A worker check — character, health, and identity will still be verified for migrant work visa applicants, as well as ensuring they are qualified and/or experience for the job they are applying for a work visa under.
  • there will be a new, unique temporary work visa that will replace 6 current temporary work visa categories.
  • Skill bands as defined by the Australia/New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) will no longer be used to categorise a job. Instead, pay will be taken into account.
  • low-skilled jobs will be made more difficult to allocate to migrants, focusing on NZ workers first.
  • high-paid jobs in rural regions and certain occupations in certain cities will be more readily open to migrant work visa applicants.
  • sector agreements by industry who rely on migrant workers will see a new process in place to more easily hire overseas staff.
  • lower-paid workers will be able to bring their families to New Zealand again (after severe restrictions implemented in 2017).

What does not change

  • current low-skilled work visa holders will still be required to leave the country for a 1-year stand down period after they have been working for 3 years (as per the policy in place when they applied for their visa)
  • Conditions specifying employer/region/job title will remain.
  • The labour market test will remain, with some change, to ensure New Zealanders are still prioritised for certain jobs

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