With the older work visa application system getting a makeover and the new employer-assisted temporary work visa replacing the other six, it is essential to keep a tab on the entire procedure for people willing to migrate to the plentiful shores of NZ. The legal proposal to introduce a new work visa and do away with the old system was set forth in motion since 2019. The middle of 2021 will witness the formal inauguration of the new work visa application procedure with the employer-assisted work visa becoming the official ticket for migrant workers’ entry in the country.
What will the new employer-assisted work visa procedure mean for temporary work visa holders? Is there any special consideration for COVID-19? What does it mean for the migrant worker population and the indigenous workforce? With so many questions hounding us, let’s dive deep into the new system and find things out.
The Announced Changes
Before an employer is recruiting a migrant worker to fill in for labour shortage, he will have to get accredited. Accreditation is of two types :
Accounting for 5 or fewer labourer intakes. If the standard accreditation is for Labour Hire companies or franchisees, then they should follow every instance of compliance. If they have not adhered to or broken the employment law, then they are included in a stand-down list and accreditation is impossible.
It accounts for 6 or more worker recruitment. The employers should commit to improve the payment, working conditions, while constantly upskilling and absorbing native New Zealanders into their job ecosystem.
Employer accreditation is part of the first essential check that the employer-assisted work visa requires. The new work visa application procedure entails 3 essential checks, namely:
- Employer check
- Job check
- Migrant worker check
The first one requires a mandatory accreditation status. Once an employer or a labour hire company seeks accreditation under the new system, it will last for 12 months on approval. Further, if an employer seeks a renewal to his accreditation status, there will be an additional 24 months accreditation status granted.
Complexities and Concerns
Though it sounds quite simple, several immigration experts have a completely different notion. According to these experts, these changes brought forth on the pretext of minimizing migrant labour exploitation and granting equal opportunities to the native New Zealanders are just benefiting Immigration NZ bureaucratically.
The Employer check and the Job check are particularly complicated, since they revolve around labour compliance issues, employment laws, job sustainability and labour market testing. If you too are facing difficulties in understanding the intricacies of these checks, you can opt for a consultation with our NZ immigration experts. These experts have years of experience under their belts in fruitful consultation about immigration concerns and ensure complete client satisfaction.
Criteria for the 3 Essential Checks Under the New System
The mandatory Employer check is set to replace three employer schemes which are presently in practice.
- Approval in principle or AIP before recruiting workers on an Essential Skills Work Visa
- Accreditation status as a Talent Accredited Employer
- Labour hire employer accreditation status for Essential Skills Work Visa
On the other hand, the Job check entails the following.
- Confirmation regarding the job paying the market rate
- Compliance with employment laws
- Pertinence regarding a labour market test
Those jobs that pay 200% of the median wage or present in a skills shortage list are not entitled to encounter this check. The employer pays for the Job check.
The criteria for the Migrant worker check involves the following:
- Applicant should meet the character, skills, identity and health requirements for the job
- Either the applicant or the employer pays for this check
Replacement of the Earlier Visa Types
From mid-2021, the new employer-led work visa will do away with six visa types which are still in practice. These are:
- Essential Skills Work Visa
- Essential Skills Work Visa-approved in principle
- Talent/Accredited Employer Work Visa
- Long-term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
- Silver Fern Job Search Visa (officially closed since 7th of October, 2019)
- Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa
These visa changes will allow temporary migrant workers in NZ to continue their presence in the workspaces and industries and substitute for indigenous labour shortages.
The employer-assisted work visas that expire between 1st January 2021 to 30th June of the same year will be automatically protracted for 6 months more. Visas held by their partners and children will also undergo automatic extension, according to the Immigration officials of the Government of New Zealand. The same applies for the following visas in practice.
- Essential Skills Visa
- Work to Residence Visa
- Special Category Work Visas for Japanese Interpreters and Thai Chefs
- Special and Skilled Work Visas for Vietnam, South Korea, Philippines, China and Indonesia
- Employer-scientific Work Visas granted under section 61 of the Immigration Act, 2009
- Religious Worker Visa
- Fishing Crew Visa
- Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa
What’s Still Unchanged?
For the lower-paid Essentials Skills Visa, the stand-down period is unchanged. The migrant labourers receiving less than the median wage will have to leave NZ for a year, after 3 years of employment in this country. Current work visas remain valid until expiry. But the Immigration department has also announced that the introduction of the stand-down period is deferred until January 2022.
The Motives Behind Introducing These Changes
According to the logic provided by some of the top officials in the Immigration department of the Government of NZ, enforcing employer accreditation will minimize migrant labour exploitation, introduce good HR practices and ensure constant upskilling of the native workforce.
But, as discussed before, even after accreditation, there can be rampant occurrence of such bad practices. Non-compliance to employment and labour laws will still occur after accreditation, if the employer in question is shrewd and tactically sound. Without prominent whistleblowers within the system, it is difficult to weed out such bad eggs.
You can get one-on-one consultation and advice from our top-rated immigration experts and advisors if you, too, are overwhelmed and confused concerning the flurry of application and procedural changes. A delay in consultation will defer your professional aspirations. So, hurry up!