The New Zealand government has proposed significant changes to

the employer-assisted work visa framework which, if implemented,

will affect all New Zealand employers supporting work visa

applications and all individuals applying for employer-supported

work visas.

What are the proposed changes?

Gateway Framework

A “gateway framework” is set to replace all

employer-supported work visa categories. Three stages will have to

be passed before a work visa can be approved:

  1. Employer check

This involves mandatory accreditation of all employers seeking

to support work visa applications. Three categories of

accreditation are proposed, including standard accreditation, labor

hire accreditation and high-volume accreditation (for employers

recruiting more than five foreign workers over a 12 month

period).

  1. Job check

This phase will introduce:

  • Regional labor market test rules; or
  • Relevant industry sector agreements; or
  • No labor market testing for salaries at 200% of the median wage

    (currently NZD 104,000).

  1. Individual check

This final stage will assess the identity, character, health,

qualifications and experience of the work visa applicant.

Work to residence (accredited employer)

  • The minimum base salary for a work to residence visa will be

    increased, from NZD 55,000 to NZD 79,560.

  • The option to get a permanent resident visa after two years of

    holding a work to residence visa, with a salary of more than NZD

    90,000 will be removed. Employees will still be able to acquire

    standard residence but will need to continue living in New Zealand

    for a further two years to obtain a permanent resident visa.

  • Employer accreditation will be limited to 24 months as this

    category is phased out, by 2021.

Removing the ANZSCO skill level assessment for Work Visas

  • Jobs will instead be classified as “low” or

    “high” paid. This will be based on whether the hourly

    rate is above or below the median wage (currently $25).

  • Pay rate together with “Labor Market Region” will

    determine the length of visa issued.

  • This change will be introduced in mid-2020.
  • ANZSCO will be retained for Skilled Migrant Residence Visa

    assessments.

  • ANZSCO will still be used to ensure that the rate of pay is not

    less than market rate and the visa applicant is suitably

    qualified.

Introduction of sector agreements

To be negotiated with sectors who employ high numbers of foreign

workers, in an attempt to reduce reliance on migrant labor. Sectors

to be targeted include:

  • Residential care
  • Meat processing
  • Dairy
  • Forestry
  • Tourism and hospitality
  • Road Freight Transport Residential care and meat processing

    agreements are to be introduced first, in mid-2020.

Removing dependent visa restrictions for low paid workers

Provided the minimum income threshold is met, low paid workers

can:

  • Support a partner for a visitor (not work) visa; and
  • Support dependent children for visas as domestic students.

This new policy will be introduced in mid-2020.

Retaining the stand-down period for low paid workers and

family

  • The stand down period will continue for low-paid workers,

    forcing them to depart New Zealand after holding three 12-month

    visas.

  • The first group of impacted foreign workers must leave New

    Zealand, from August 2020.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general

guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

about your specific circumstances.

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