The Proposed Timeline
Immigration New Zealand is proposing to overhaul the employer-assisted temporary work visa system. It is important to note that these are proposed changes. Given the current Covid-19 climate, there may be some delays and modifications. Broadly speaking, the overhaul will be implemented in 3 parts:
- Part 1 was implemented on 7 October 2019. This part is focused on changes to the Work to Residence – Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa and limiting the Employer Accreditation period. Silver Fern Job Search Visas can also no longer be applied for.
- Part 2 is proposed to occur in 2020. Immigration New Zealand is proposing to:
‣ Shift away from using ANZSCO codes to a New Zealand median wage-based classification system for Essential Skills Work Visas (mid- 2020).
‣ Implement Regionalised Labour Market Tests (mid- 2020).
‣ Reinstate the ability for lower-skilled/lower-paid work visa holders to bring their families to New Zealand (mid- 2020).
‣ Negotiate sector agreements.
- Part 3 is proposed to occur in 2021. Immigration New Zealand is proposing to:
‣ Introduce the new Temporary Work Visa.
‣ Introduce an employer-led visa process where all employers who sponsor migrant workers will need to be accredited.
Mid-2020 Changes Explained
Immigration New Zealand has previously stated that the Part 2 changes will likely occur mid to late July 2020. The 3 key mid-2020 changes are:
- New Median Wage-Based Classification System for Essential Skills Work Visas
Currently, Essential Skills Work Visas have a skill band classification system (higher-skilled, mid-skilled, and lower-skilled). This is determined by the migrant worker’s remuneration and ANZSCO code. Immigration New Zealand is now proposing to simplify this process by implementing a median wage-based classification system. This means that from mid-2020, a migrant worker is lower-paid if they are paid below the New Zealand median wage and high-paid if they are paid at or above the New Zealand median wage. Immigration New Zealand will update the median wage in November each year. This change will link in with the proposed regionalised labour market tests.
Immigration New Zealand is now proposing to simplify this process by implementing a median wage-based classification system.
This change is a shift away from using ANZSCO codes for the classification of work visas, but it does not mean that ANZSCO codes will be fully removed. Migrant workers still need to match their job to a relevant ANZSCO code so that Immigration New Zealand can determine whether the migrant worker is suitably qualified. Migrant workers should still select their ANZSCO codes carefully because the Skill Migrant Category Residence Visa policy remains ANZSCO code-centric. Poor work visa ANZSCO code selection could affect migrant workers’ ability to claim points under the Skilled Migrant Category later.
- Regionalised Labour Market Tests
The regionalised labour market test will introduce a streamlined process for migrant workers in high-paid jobs and a strengthened labour market test for migrant workers in lower-paid jobs. The visa duration and the type of labour market test required will depend on what region the migrant worker will be working in and whether the job pay is above the New Zealand median wage. These regional settings are designed to be flexible so that Immigration New Zealand can adjust these to respond to labour market conditions.
Source: Immigration New Zealand
All lower-paid jobs will be required to pass a strengthened labour market test, this means that the employer will need to include the remuneration when advertising the job and employers will need to provide information (qualifications, skills, and experience) about lower-paid jobs to the Ministry of Social Development to check whether they have any suitable candidates. Employers will not be able to reject suitable referrals and still pass the labour market test unless there are acceptable reasons to do so (for example: the candidate failed to attend an interview or failed a drug test in a high-risk environment). Employers will no longer be able to reject a candidate for not having a driver licence unless it is specifically required for the job. Sector Agreements may vary some rules depending on what is negotiated.
The regionalised labour market test will introduce a streamlined process for migrant workers in high-paid jobs and a strengthened labour market test for migrant workers in lower-paid jobs.
The lower-skilled work visa stand-down period will still apply to lower-paid work visa holders. This means that lower-paid migrant workers who have worked in New Zealand for 3 years on a lower-skilled/lower-paid work visa will still need to leave New Zealand for 12 months to qualify for a further lower-paid work visa. The migrant worker may remain in New Zealand if they are approved for a higher-skilled, mid-skilled, or high-paid work visa after holding lower-skilled/lower-paid work visas for 3 years.
- Reinstate Lower-Skilled/Lower-Paid Work Visa Holders’ Ability to Bring Family
Currently, lower-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa holders cannot support their family’s visas (unless the WF3.1.1 exception applies). Immigration New Zealand is proposing to reinstate the ability for lower-skilled/lower-paid Essential Skills Work Visa holders to bring their partner and dependent children to New Zealand for the duration of their work visa. The lower-skilled/lower-paid work visa holder will still need to meet the minimum income threshold (currently at $43,322.76 gross per annum).
Immigration New Zealand is proposing to reinstate the ability for lower-skilled/lower-paid Essential Skills Work Visa holders to bring their partner and dependent children to New Zealand for the duration of their work visa.
Partners will be able to apply for a visitor visa. For a work visa, partners will need to qualify in their own right. Dependent children will qualify for a visitor visa (if they are under school age) or a domestic student visa (if they are at primary or secondary school age).
How We Can Help
Migrant workers should consider when to apply for their next work visa carefully. We can guide you on this. Migrant workers with jobs that are classified as ANZSCO skill level 4 roles (not on the exception list) or ANZSCO skill level 5 roles and who are paid at or above the median-wage but under $38.24 per hour, may benefit to wait for the new median wage-based work visa classification before they apply. Similarly, migrant workers who are in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2, or 3 roles but are unable to meet the median-wage, may want to renew their work visas earlier.
This article was written to provide general guidance only. It is correct at as the date of this article and is subject to further updates. Stay Legal is always happy to provide immigration guidance and solutions. If you have any questions about the upcoming employer-assisted temporary work visa changes, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please call us +64 7 575 2882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.