On 30th September the Minister of Immigration dropped the bombshell announcement that this visa would become available from 1 December 2021 to help provide certainty for employers. Therefore this is of importance to all your staff and we have set up a special page where they can access advice and assistance. We can also arrange group online sessions for your staff members. Contact us now to set one up!
Bringing in a migrant while the border is technically "closed"
The entire New Zealand immigration framework as we know it is undergoing seismic change. Prior to Covid's arrival into New Zealand, we were experiencing record highs of net migration. The border closure brought that to an abrupt and unplanned end. It is possible to bring only a very small number of migrant workers in currently through the Critical Worker process. Since the borders closed on 19 March 2020, we have made good use of the border exceptions process and if you have critical health, infrastructure or other staff with unique skillsets, please feel free to get in touch about whether it's possible to get them in. We can also advise on MIQ processes and exemptions.
Hiring a migrant who is already here in New Zealand
The Essential Skills work visa remains an option for you. Duration and steps you need to go through to prove the Labour Market Test i.e. genuine attempts to hire/train a Kiwi are met will depend on a number of factors but the resulting visa can be for 2 or 3 years depending on pay rate.
Work to Residence visas are being phased out and the last date to apply is 31 October 2021. However, the option for those already holding a Work to Residence visa to vary that visa or renew if they have already applied for residence will remain beyond. From June 2022, the new long-awaited Accredited Employer Work Visa will be introduced and we are already working with employers to prepare them for that eventuality. We can e.g. be conducting advance immigration audits, advising on compliance issues, working to prepare for the sorts of policies we know you will likely need to have in place to cater for migrant labour. We can additionally advise on possible short - medium - long term strategies for retaining your migrant workers and getting them through to residence wherever possible. Some may have partners and children they are concerned to get to New Zealand and we can assist.
The all-new Employer Accreditation
From June 2022, the new long-awaited Accredited Employer Work Visa will be introduced and we are already working with employers to prepare them for that eventuality. There will be three tiers of Accreditation:
Standard: for those employing up to 1-5 migrants in a year. Initial duration will be 12 months renewable for 24 months. This is likely to be a very streamlined online process requiring basic compliance with employment and immigration law.
High Volume: for those employing 6+ migrants in a year. The process will be more complex, involving additional requirements around HR processes, training etc. Again, initial duration will be 12 months renewable for 24 months.
Triangular.Franchise Employers: This will be a special category for labour hire companies who are not the direct employers and are considered higher risk and therefore will be subject to a higher degree of scrutiny. Initial and renewal duration will be 12 months.
Employer Gate: Once employers are Accredited they will also be expected to go through an "Employer Gate" akin to the current labour market test to prove that for any particular role they are seeking to fill with migrant labour, there has been a genuine attempt to recruit and/or train a suitable New Zealander.
Precise rules have not yet been published despite the policy being first consulted on in 2019. We were part of an industry group that made submissions on the consultation paper. We will be using this period in the lead up to final implementation to work constructively and proactively with employers to prepare.
Looking after your migrant workers
Migrant workers have particular needs and stressors, including worrying about their pathways to ongoing visas and to residence. We can work with you and your employees to ensure that future pathways to visas are planned for and any steps needed to be taken to prepare are project managed. We can also advise on the new one-off 2021 Residence Visa and whether your staff meet the requirements. If they do not we can look at other possible future pathways.