Immigration changes employers should be across

There have been a few changes and updates in the immigration space over the past few weeks.  While none are ground-breaking, it is nevertheless important for all employers to be across them.

Shift to e-visas

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced that all visas (both temporary and resident) will now be issued as ‘e-visas’ rather than as a physical endorsement in an applicant’s passport.  It is important that visa holders are made aware that they must print a copy of the e-visa (issued as an electronic PDF A4 piece of paper) and carry it with them whenever travelling to and from New Zealand.  We also recommend that the visa holder retains an electronic copy of the e-visa on their phone or email inbox for easy reference if needed.  Physical visa endorsements are still available from INZ (for a fee).

Increase in work visa applications

Figures have recently come out that show a significant increase in the number of work visas being issued.  In the 2017/2018 financial year, 228,000 work visas were approved; an increase of 4000 from the previous financial year.  This is likely to be due to significant changes to both the Skilled Migrant and Essential Skills Work Visa Categories in August 2017.  In particular, fewer migrants are eligible for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), so are renewing their work visas instead.

Prior to August last year, most applicants in their twenties or thirties with a New Zealand Diploma and skilled-employment would be eligible for residence under the SMC.  Now, these applicants generally require a few years of work experience as well as remuneration of at least $50,523.20 per annum (which can be difficult for newly graduated migrants to achieve) to be eligible for residence.  This has resulted in 10,000 less migrants gaining residence this financial year than the year prior.  Work visa numbers are only likely to increase further with New Zealand’s continued reliance on both skilled and unskilled migrants to meet its immediate economic needs as well as changes to the Essential Skills Work Visa Category last August, which now mean that applicants earning under $20.65 per hour can only be issued  a one-year visa.

The increase in work visas coupled with announcements from the government that they are going to change the labour market testing policy (soon) means some interesting times are ahead, as they find the right balance between making sure Kiwis are given ample opportunity to engage in work, and also make sure access to migrant labour is not overly restricted to smother economic growth.

Workplace Law team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Workplace Law issues, please contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law team:

Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen DrewittMaria Green,  Hannah Martin, Joseph HarropHolly StruckmanAlex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia StrickettKen Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh)Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske SchutteLingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew ShawFiona McMillan

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