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Work Visa changes announced

The Minister of Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway, announced new changes to New Zealand Work Visas.

“The current system is overly complex, includes a number of different visa options and isn’t adequately responsive to sectoral or regional differences in the labour market.

“There are also too few checks and balances on employers hiring migrants, leading to increased migrant exploitation as some employers with poor track records are still able to access migrant labour.

“To address these issues, the Government is proposing a set of reforms for employer-assisted temporary work visas to simplify the system and make it easier for business and regions to get the skilled workers they need to thrive.

Photo - courtesy of WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Photo – courtesy of WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

The proposed changes include:

  • introducing a new framework for all employer-assisted temporary work visas which will be employer-led, rather than migrant-led, and will simplify the system by reducing the number of application pathways into one enhanced framework (see Figure1).
  • replacing the Essential Skills in Demand Lists with Regional Skills Shortage Lists to better reflect the skill shortages that exist in the regions and provide a stronger signal to temporary migrants of opportunities in regional areas.
  • introducing sector agreements to ensure longer-term structural issues are addressed, so that sectors or industries do not become reliant on migrant labour, at the risk of shutting out opportunities to New Zealanders.
  • improving alignment of the immigration, welfare, and education systems to improve how we work together to increase the employment of New Zealanders and deliver better labour market outcomes for New Zealand.

The Government will also review some of the changes made by the previous Government to ensure they align with current priorities, including the stand down periods for lower-skilled migrants and family entitlements for lower-skilled workers.

Consultation on the proposals is open to all individuals, groups or organisations and closes on 18 March 2019, with announcements on final decisions to be made by mid-2019. 

More information on the changes, including a link to the consultation document, can be found at www.MBIE.govt.nz/TempWorkVisaConsultation (link to go live after 9am 18 December).