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.
- the work visa application process will change, being now led by the employer rather than the migrant, it will involve:
- An employer check — all employers, including those with an existing accreditation, will need to seek a new accreditation under the new process.
- 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.
- 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