New Zealand: Helpful immigration policy changes for employers

Last Updated: 26 June 2015
Article by Nicola Appleton

On 1 July 2015 several immigration policy changes will come into force. These changes are good news for our clients who are recruiting or employing migrants.

What are the changes?

  • Longer work visas for lower-skilled roles in Canterbury;
  • The ability to change employers within Canterbury; and
  • An accreditation scheme for labour-hire companies.

Who will be getting longer work visas?

Migrants working in what are considered to be lower-skilled roles will now be able to obtain three year work visas. This is as long as they submit their applications between 1 July 2015 and 31 December 2016.

Lower-skilled roles are defined as Level 4 or 5 on the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). For example, construction labourers and caregivers.

At the moment, a migrant working in a lower-skilled job is only given a one year essential skills work visa. This means visa holders have to complete new visa forms and pay an application fee of $270 every 12 months. It also means that employers are having to advertise the jobs every 12 months. The costs quickly add up! Therefore an increase to three year visas will make it easier and cheaper for both employers and their employees.

How will migrants be able to change employers?

From 1 July 2015, Immigration New Zealand will not specify the name of the employer when issuing essential skills work visas. This means that migrants will be able to work for any employer, as long as the job is Canterbury and it is the same occupation as on the work visa.

Migrants who had their essential skills work visa issued before 1 July will be able to apply to have the employer removed from their visa. The migrants can to move to work for another employer, as long as it is Canterbury and in the same occupation.

There must be a catch?

Employers and migrants need to be careful that the new job is in the same occupation as the one for which the work visa was granted.

This can be tricky, as a migrant may change employers for a higher and better paid job. This may mean that the occupation is not the same.

You can check the occupation using the ANZSCO descriptions or you are most welcome to phone us on +64 3 335 3480.

What is the new scheme for the accreditation of labour hire companies?

It will be mandatory for labour hire companies employing migrants within the construction sector in Canterbury to have accreditation by 1 January 2016. Labour hire companies in other sectors, and elsewhere around New Zealand, may also become accredited but it is not mandatory.

Those that are accredited will be able to obtain three year visas for their migrant employees, including those with lower-skilled roles.

To obtain accreditation, the companies must show a commitment to training and employing New Zealanders, as well as good workplace practices. Therefore, a successful application will need proof of thorough human resources policies, evidence of checking and tracking all employees' lawful ability to work, as well as evidence of sound health and safety policies and also employment law compliance.

This is reassuring for our clients who are or who work with recruitment agencies and labour hire companies. The labour hire companies, the businesses who use them, and the migrants working for them, will have further reassurance as to each accredited company's good employment practices and immigration compliance.

Can a labour hire company get help with the accreditation process?

Yes. Our Immigration Team specialises in assisting employers and their employees in all aspects of immigration, including accreditation. We can check your workplace practices and policies, including helping with your systems to check employees are working lawfully.

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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