The honorable Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced several visa adjustments to help the migrant worker population stay in New Zealand and continue to add value to the indigenous industries. According to the minister, the economy has recovered from the slump introduced due to the unprecedented pandemic situation. In fact, the recovery has been rather radical. Hence, there are labor shortages across industries that need to be addressed.

According to the Immigration Minister, the market has encountered a windfall, and the predictions are quite optimistic. The adjustments to the visa settings and related changes are being introduced to ensure that the migrant workforce staying in the country can make up for the labor shortages. Employers have endured labor shortages while several New Zealanders have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Hence, these visa adjustments provide assurance to both employers and prospective migrant employees.

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Policy Updates Regarding Visa Extensions- What Is the Motive Behind These?

Kris Faafoi cleared his stance on the series of updates that the Immigration Department has announced. He said that the priority is to encourage employers into long-term workforce planning with suitable training, wage, and working condition improvement to absorb more and more locals into the ecosystem.

However, he has observed that employers face challenges in recruiting off-shore workforce with the border restrictions being present. Hence, the visa adjustments aim to relieve the employers of labor shortage concerns. This series of updates will impact several temporary visa holders and will help industries retain the migrant workers they have become so reliant upon.

Immigration NZ has also announced a refurbished employer - assisted work visa application that will come into effect from mid-2021.

For a detailed overview of the latest updates and how they will impact your career in New Zealand, you can book a consultation with our pool of immigration experts. They will offer you a clear perspective into the present situation and how you should plan ahead.

Statistics Regarding People With Temporary Visas in New Zealand

According to a report published in December 2020, 189,000 temporary migrants with work rights are present in New Zealand.

Out of these, 83,000 are present with temporary employer-assisted work visas, which will encounter an extension. Out of 58,000 other migrants, the WHV holders will get an automatic visa extension. In contrast, the post-study work visas are not affected.

43,000 other temporary visa holders are either New Zealanders' partners or dependent upon workers and related to students. Some of these visas will undergo an extension. 5,000 migrants who are working under the Recognized Seasonal Employer scheme are unaffected. 42,000 students and 31,000 visitors are also unaffected by the new visa adjustments.

According to the Immigration Minister, the introduced changes will decrease these numbers once border restrictions ease and the extended visas expire.

Series of Visa Adjustments

According to the honorable minister, the visa updates will run well into 2021, with the Government keeping a close tab on the labor market's latest developments. It will help them strategize for the future and introduce further changes when required.

Temporary Work Visa extensions

Those people currently working in NZ using their employer-assisted work visas get a fresh gust of hope and opportunity! If their work visas are expiring between 1st January 2021 to 30th June 2021 (inclusive), an automatic extension of 6 months will be granted.

The Employer-assisted Work Visas that fall under this category are:

  • Essential Skills Visa
  • Employer-specific Work Visas permitted by Section 61, Immigration Act, 2009
  • Work-to-Residence Visa
  • Religious Worker Visa
  • Fishing Crew Visa

One of the most fantastic news is that the above visa extensions not only apply to the holders and applicants but also their partners, spouse, children, and those dependent on them.

The Immigration Department has also announced that it will contact everyone whose current visas have undergone extensions under the new protocols. The visa holders will receive confirmation about an extension by Immigration New Zealand within March 2021.

Working Holiday Visa extensions

The holders of Working Holiday Visas (WHV) are also in luck! If their visa expires between 21st December 2020 to 30th June 2021 (inclusive), they will encounter an automatic 6 months of visa extension.

Along with the visa extension, WHV holders will get specific relaxations in their work condition restrictions. These are:

  • The WHV holders are allowed to continue in any employment of their choice till their visas expire. The occupation could be temporary and in any industrial sector.
  • The time limit on the total work for a single employer will cease to apply.

Following 21st December 2020, the WHV holders are not transferred to Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visa upon visa expiry. Suppose you are a migrant worker on an SSE visa. In that case, you can opt to continue working in the horticulture and viticulture sectors.

Alternatively, you can apply for the Essential Skills work visa if you find suitable opportunities. You can consult and seek advice from our trustworthy immigration advisers who have years of experience in consulting about these matters.

Stand-Down Period for Lower-Paid Essential Skills Visa Delayed for 12 Months

For lower-paid Essential Skills visa, the stand-down period is deferred until January 2022. The current stand-down period policy requires any Essential Skills visa holder earning less than the median wage to leave New Zealand mandatorily for a year after three years of continuous employment. They can return after that one-year gap.

Wage Increase Deferred

Every November, you would find the INZ introducing the increment in the median wage rate. It is done to determine the higher-skilled work visas. But according to the Immigration department's latest announcements, it will continue using 25.50 NZD as the benchmark for visa conditions. In this regard, it is crucial for you to know that 25.50 NZD is the 2019 median wage. But it will continue acting as the median wage rate until at least July 2021. After July, the remuneration for higher-skilled visas will increase to 27 NZD per hour.

Summing Up

If you are under the purview of any of the visas above-mentioned, then you should understand how you are affected. A full-blown consultation and analysis of your temporary visa status is the wisest thing to seek out. The entire Provisas team is always eager and welcoming to solve your issues. Book a consultation and end your confusion.