Immigration March Newsletter

In this edition:

Upcoming challenges for work visa holders in New Zealand: Act now!

If you are in New Zealand on an Essential Skills work visa or if you are on a student or post study work visa and soon to apply for an Essential Skills visa, the changing labour market conditions as a result of COVID-19 could make it much more difficult to get your next visa.

Experts are predicting at least 200,000 New Zealand jobs may be lost due to the virus, with a resulting significant increase in the rate of unemployment.  With huge numbers of Kiwis out of work, Government policy will be directed at giving them the first shot at available roles.  We expect INZ to enforce this approach with a much tougher labour market test, meaning it will be harder for employers to hire migrant workers (either at initial work visa stage or at visa renewal stage).  If you are on a work visa, particularly if it is a low-skilled or low-paid work visa (at ANZSCO levels 4 and 5), our advice is to apply for your next visa as soon as possible before the tougher labour market test approach comes in to play– even if your current visa doesn’t expire for some time.

We also expect INZ to have significant backlogs of work following the end of the lockdown, meaning processing times are likely to be much longer than usual.  If you have a work visa that expires between now and 31 December 2020, we recommend applying as early as possible to secure your place in the “queue”.

Under the tougher labour market test, work visa applications are likely to be much more challenging than they have previously been and so to ensure your application has the best chance of success, get in touch with us early so we can expertly guide you through the process.

Our recent update hereis targeted at employers but contains all the key information you need to be aware of.

For further information or assistance with emigration please contact Lane Neave Lawyers on + 64 3 379 3720 or email

New Zealand at a glance


All forecasts are nonsensical but we think it important that folk understand the shape, if not the magnitude, of the way ahead. While the extent is unclear what is clear is that the biggest marginal hit to the economy will be in the second quarter of this year. What will ultimately determine the depth will be the progress of Covid-19 and the duration of the current lockdown. Importantly, there will be a recovery and the recovery will be big. Again, the timing of this is uncertain but it would be a real surprise if it hadn’t started by the end of this year and builds aggressive momentum through 2021.


It looks almost certain we will face a global recession starting in Q2 of this year. The global services sector is now being pummeled, as an increasing number of countries go into some form of lockdown. Manufacturing took the initial hit but now seems to be stabilizing, albeit at low levels of activity. There are, more generally, increasing signs of hope with countries that go into lockdown witnessing much lower disease transmission rates within two weeks of doing so. This should help moderate fear and encourage spending and investment but until a vaccination is found for Covid-19, or the disease runs its natural course, or we simply decide to live with it, it’s hard to see any meaningful return to normality.


In Q2, New Zealand will witness the biggest quarterly decline in activity ever seen. Never have we experienced a shut-down which is so widespread and so sudden. We’ve penciled in -5.0% for the quarter but it could easily be more than double this. Nonetheless, however horrific the number turns out to be, it should not be seen as the beginnings of a great depression. At some stage in the next twelve months, we should also be celebrating the biggest quarterly bounce in activity ever. In a levels sense, no matter how deep this recession gets, we believe that total activity in the economy will return to where we started this mess by H2, 2022.

Labour market

The labour market will bear a lot of pain. Do not be complacent as to how high the unemployment rate could go. While we are very unsure about our forecasts in general, we think a best -case scenario is an unemployment rate rising to 7%. Our central scenario sees the rate climbing to over 9%. The impact would have been much worse had it not been for the fact that the current crisis will create demand for labour that previously wasn’t there. We think the unemployment rate will peak at the end of next year but that it will drop sharply thereafter.


The recent decline in the NZD will put significant upward pressure on import prices. However, this will be completely offset by a combination of the slump in global commodity prices, particularly oil, and very weak domestic demand. Even as the economy recovers, inflation will remain muted, as the NZD will likely bounce and the economy will maintain a degree of spare capacity, particularly in the labour market, for some time. Near term, the pressure on prices is unequivocally down. Indeed, we are expecting a negative quarter for Q2 CPI .

External accounts

New Zealand’s external accounts were looking in great nick. Driving this was the strength in our travel balance. In the year ended December 2019, the net impact of offshore travel provided us with $9.5 billion of revenue. This will all but disappear over the next year. Accordingly, we see our current account deficit climbing to around 6% of GDP from its current 3%. New Zealand’s net international investment liabilities had already started to trend upward. The current account developments will ensure this trend is well and truly entrenched.

Fiscal policy

The government is throwing everything at this crisis. We are having a lot of difficulty trying to work out the exact timing and magnitude of the various rescue packages but the Finance Minister has said they already total in excess of $22 billion. And this is just the start. Ultimately, we think the government deficit will peak in excess of 10% of GDP. Government net debt currently stands at just under 20% of GDP. It will more than likely he ad to between 40 and 50%. But we have been there before, and come out the other side. Unfortunately, though, it does mean we will have to face into a protracted period of fiscal austerity in the decade thereafter.

Interest rates and monetary policy

The cash rate should be stuck at 0.25% for the foreseeable future. For those looking for further reductions, note that the downside is limited because New Zealand banking systems are not yet capable of incorporating negative rates. The RBNZ has said it expects the rate to be at this level for twelve months. We reckon 18 months is a more likely bet, as inflation fails to rise to worrying levels and the unemployment rate holds up above the NAIRU for an extended period of time. Eventually, yield curves will steepen but, for now, the RBNZ is delivering an unprecedented quantitative easing programme to ensure monetary conditions do not tighten whilst we are in the midst of this crisis.

Exchange rates

At the moment, the New Zealand dollar is first and foremost reflective of convictions about the global economic cycle. While the consensus view of the world continues to deteriorate, the New Zealand dollar will continue to fall. This process will be exacerbated by heightened volatility as fund managers simply ditch peripheral currencies. Be that as it may, there is now huge potential for the NZD to bounce and bounce strongly. As soon as the global view is that things can’t get any worse the NZD will be off to the races.

Article reproduced with the permission of the BNZ.

Open your account with Bank of New Zealand up to 12 months before you arrive. To find out more visit:

Climate change, COVID-19 outbreak and the long-term implication to the New Zealand share market

By now you will have read, heard and seen numerous articles around various activities associated to climate change. As an investment theme it has steadily grown in importance. Ignoring it is no longer an option. Furthermore, investors are unable to merely focus on, or exclude, identified “sin” stocks. While still in its infancy, discussions have become broader with the implications far reaching. An example of this is COVID-19.

While you may be forgiven for asking why does COVID-19 have any bearing on climate, it does highlight how certain events have unforeseen secondary impacts. Current government initiatives being applied to combat COVID-19 include, self-isolation, social distancing and border controls. All mean less travel and thus less pollution. Less pollution, better climate, right?

Furthermore, COVID-19 is teaching us some valuable lessons which may be needed in the future. If businesses are forced to operate remotely for a prolonged period, they must have a robust and sustainable technology structure. While we are not there yet, in the future companies may encourage more lenient flexible working arrangements which necessitate changes to current operational procedures. Again, this will impact certain sectors more than others. For instance, the demand for REIT’s and business travel may reduce but demand for technology, data centres and telecommunication requirements may increase.

Furthermore, COVID-19 has us thinking about what the future may look like for retail, restaurants and retirement offerings. Will outcomes of COVID-19 lead to another structural evolution of changes that Y2K (the year 2000) had to retail. Online purchasing is the norm nowadays. Will retirees stay at home, will food be delivered and if so, how will outcomes be managed.

Either way, it looks certain that tomorrow will be different to today. We will work, shop and consume differently but it is worth remembering, there will remain a need for agriculturally based food sources. New Zealand remains well positioned to benefit from this.

Article provided by Ally Cui – Director, JB Were.

Economic growth forecast to change

The Covid 19 pandemic is obviously casting a large shadow on all economies worldwide. A lock down requires self-isolation and strict border control policies are now directly impacting on the NZ and World’s economy.

There are obviously some uncertain times ahead of the whole World as a consequence. Pre the current Covid 19 pandemic, MBIE forecast employment to grow by 1.8% annually, adding about 47,000 workers on average per year to the workforce in the 10 years to 2026.

The strong NZ economic growth originally forecast is now a distant memory as a recession is now inevitable. Interestingly the pre Covid 10 pandemic forecast was for average annual GDP growth of about 3.2% and 2.6% over the 2016-21 and 2021-26 periods.

Once the Covid virus is successfully under control, hopefully current pandemic measures can be relaxed and the World’s economic activities can rebound.

Employment growth post the World wide Covid 19 response will undoubtedly be very strong, as company’s rush to secure the best staff to realise new business opportunities.

Article provided by Steve Baker, Enterprise.

We can be contacted via Steve Baker on +64 27 212 5483 or

Pastoral care for expats in self-isolation

The government’s decision to close the borders to all but Kiwis is understandable. But it will take a huge emotional toll on internationals in the process of relocating here. They are now effectively in limbo.

Mobile has over 50 pre-arrival candidates, spouses and kids on Expat Onboarding Programmes who now face an uncertain future. Some have already sold houses, quit jobs and begun farewells to family and friends.

These people are committed. COVID-19 had not discouraged a single one. Some had even advanced their arrival dates and made detailed plans to fulfil their self-isolation obligations.

We are continuing to support the wellbeing of these people from afar. One of their challenges is keeping up the momentum of the move to NZ, when their arrival date is unknown.

So, we’ve put together a set of online resources to help future Kiwis get their minds out and about exploring some New Zealand experiences. To keep up their enthusiasm for the move, and better prepare them for their eventual arrival.

Employers, please feel free to share this resource with your candidates and potential employees stranded offshore. Making a thoughtful gesture at this difficult time will speak volumes about how your businesses or organisations cares for its people.

Independent migrants, we hope you enjoy these links. And we’d love to hear of any other online Kiwi experiences you’ve discovered – just email me at

Top 10 Online Kiwi ‘Experiences’

1. Watch movies filmed in New Zealand.

2. Plan an amazing foodie road tour for when you finally arrive.

3. Listen to podcast interviews with interesting Kiwis.

4. Check out 2020’s top New Zealand books.

5. Read independent news and analysis about events in New Zealand.

6. Start looking at rental properties.

7. Explore indigenous kai (food) and cooking.

8. Learn the Maori language.,188,0,43,html/Series1.html

9. Get tips on navigating Kiwi culture.

10. Scope out groups to make new friends in NZ, based around your hobbies and interests.

Note: We’ve interrupted our series of articles on the top three wellbeing challenges for expats, to bring you this topical COVID-19-related piece. Next month we’ll return to the series with a piece on Spouse Adjustment to Relocation.

Article provided by Bridget Romanes – Principal, Mobile Relocation.

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