Keeping track of changes and important dates Immigration New Zealand has set recently due to COVID - 19 impacts can be a confusing minefield. Our dedicated team at Professional Visa Solutions has put together a summary of changes and important dates so you know where you stand, and we give exclusive insight into the lifting of border restrictions.If you are worried about your visa situation now and going forward, or if you are seeking entry to New Zealand, you need to contact our Adviser team for guidance.

Immigration Related Announcements – Effective July 2021

New Temporary Visa and Reporting Tool Announced to Combat Migrant Exploitation, Effective 01 July 2021

This new visa category allows for a six month work visa enabling work for any employer, whilst a claim of exploitation is investigated. Government are encouraging reporting of exploitation through a confidential tool and are supporting those migrants affected through assurances of no detriment to their immigration status. For those afraid or unable to self-report, a wide array of options can be used through third-party reporting. Dependent family members are able to obtain a visa in-line with an exploited migrant.

Lapsing Applications, Effective 07 July 2021

Lodged temporary visa applications which cannot be approved due to border restrictions in place to manage COVID - 19 are being lapsed. This includes applications lodged outside New Zealand received after 10 August last year (2020). Immigration fees will be refunded in all instances.

Applicants in New Zealand whose existing temporary visa was automatically extended will be made an offer by INZ to withdraw the application or proceed. Any future applications made will not be affected.

Changes to Essential Skills Work Visa Category, Effective 19 July 2021

Essential Skills Visa holders will be able to apply for a longer visa to remain in their current role under a simplified process.

The Government has decided to extend the maximum duration of an Essential Skills Visa for a job paid below the median wage (currently NZ$27.00 per hour) from 12 to 24 months.

The duration of Essential Skills visas for roles paid the median wage or above will still be up to three years.

From 19 July 2021 until 28 August 2021, applicants need to apply using a paper-based form available from the INZ website. From 30 August 2021 applicants will be able to apply online instead.

Employers who are retaining migrant workers in the same roles will not have to prove there are no New Zealanders available (ie. no labour market test).

Employers will still need to undergo a labour market test for vacant roles or where a worker will change the region they work in for the same employer.

Ahead of the introduction of the Accredited Employer Work Visa system, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is changing its process for testing the labour market to more effectively priorities New Zealand job seekers and allow time for employers to adapt to the new format. An updated Skills Match Report is available from 19 July 2021.

Applicants remaining in the same role will not need to include an employment agreement with their new Essential Skills visa application.

Applicants will not be required to provide medical and police certificates, if these were previously supplied with a visa application.

These changes to requirements will remain in force until the middle of next year, 2022, when will be reviewed. Exact date yet to be determined.The application fee for a new visa remains unchanged.

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) Temporarily Deferred, Effective 19 July 2021

The introduction of the AEWV, previously scheduled for introduction on 1 November 2021, has been temporarily deferred to the middle of next year. The exact date is yet to be confirmed.

This new category will replace existing temporary visa skills-based categories, and requires all employers hiring migrant workers to be accredited by Immigration New Zealand. In conjunction, a new employer-led check system being introduced will make it easier for businesses with good employment practices to fill certain roles where known shortages exist, according to INZ, once accreditation is obtained. The new system will also better protect migrants from exploitation, discourage misuse of the immigration system and allow for the increase in skill levels of migrant workers.

Employers continuing to hold accreditation can support new work visa applicants under work to residence (talent visa) category until 31 October 2021. After this date, an employer can only support an application made under essential skills work visa category, which does not have a direct pathway to residence.

INZ Application Processing Priorities/Time frames, Effective 19 July 2021

INZ has detailed which applications are to be given highest priority processing, with immediate effect, as the following:

Certain Residence applications: second or subsequent resident visa, residence applications made from within a Quarantine-Free Travel zone (ie. exempt from COVID - 19 isolation and quarantine requirements) under the skilled migrant category (with job offers earning twice the median wage or where professional body registration is needed) and talent category applications (residence from work applications), special visa types like Christchurch response and global impact visas, and most common application types like partnership and dependent child family applications.

Certain Temporary applications: work and visitor visas for partners and dependent children of New Zealanders’ related applications, and for those within a Quarantine-Free Travel zone.

Immigration rules allow for any other application to be considered for priority processing where circumstances warrant it.

Travel From Australia, Effective 24 July 2021

Quarantine-free travel from all Australian states (except New South Wales) is suspended due to COVID - 19 risks. A person cannot travel to New Zealand until “red flights” commence and a placing is booked in managed isolation or quarantine. The suspension of quarantine-free travel will be reviewed around mid-September 2021.

Immigration Related Announcements – Effective August 2021

Health and Character Requirements, Effective 05 August 2021

Dependent family members whose visa is based on relationship to an Essential Skills Work Visa applicant will not have to provide police certificates (from home and third countries) or updated medical certificates if they have provided these with a previous visa application. Similar police certificate concessions have also been awarded to Regional Seasonal Employment Visa holders.

Regional Seasonal Employment (RSE) Visa Scheme Holders Changes, Effective 14 August 2021

Non-Pacific RSE workers can be employed under the scheme where there is no pre - existing relationship with the RSE recognized employer. Those already holding an RSE visa can apply for an extension beyond the usual maximum period of stay.

Amendments and Additions to Border Exception Entry, During August 2021

Other specific changes and additions have been made to Immigration rules during August 2021, including who may be considered for the grant of a border exception for entry to New Zealand, namely in health-related vocations, sporting and cultural events of significance, major infrastructure projects, Government supported activities and deep-sea fishing crews.

New Zealand Borders Opening for Travel, Plans Announced 12 August 2021

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern, has announced a framework geared toward opening New Zealand’s borders whilst in the midst of the COVID - 19 pandemic.

The plan consists of the following:

  • Vaccination roll out will speed up, with all eligible ages able to book in their vaccine by 1 September 2021
  • Move to 6 weeks between doses to ensure more NZers at least partially vaccinated as soon as possible in face of Delta risk
  • Phased approach to reopening border with self-isolation pilot this year (between October and December 2021) and set up of new testing and vaccine checking systems at border
  • From the first quarter of 2022 move to new individual risk based border settings that will establish low, medium and high risk pathways into New Zealand
  • Elimination retained as best strategy to keep COVID out and economy open

The experienced and knowledgeable team of Advisers at Professional Visa Solutions has produced an exclusive “one-stop-shop” article which covers everything you need to know, including advice on how to best plan for and take advantage of this announcement.

See it here: https://provisas.co.nz/new-zealand-borders-opening-for-travel-announcement/

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