Getting a migrant worker into your team takes skill


New Zealand faces double trouble on the economic front – shortages of skilled workers and woeful productivity.

It should be easy then for you to get a keen and skilled migrant with a work visa – right?

No, it’s hard enough to get a skilled migrant if they are already in New Zealand but even tougher if they are offshore.

Yet there is a need for speed.

Think of getting that worker at your work place as a hurdles race. Some races are longer than others, but they include similar jumps – qualifications, health checks, character tests, family situation … there’s a myriad of them.

Our licensed immigration advisers are highly trained hurdlers. Malcolm Pacific Immigration was able to lodge 35 work visa applications for one employer inside a day.

But starting at the beginning, let’s look at New Zealand’s skills shortages. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has three lists that record the skill shortages and a list of skilled occupations:

  • Long Term Shortage – where the job must pay more than NZ$45,000

  • Essential skills – may not need to advertise the job but your worker has to meet all the requirements on the list.

  • Canterbury region list – where especially tradespeople are still needed

INZ says if the job you want to hire for is on one of these lists, it means suitable New Zealanders are hard to find and a visa can be granted to a qualified worker from overseas.

But it is not as easy as that sounds.

INZ has remuneration thresholds it uses to decide whether the job is really for a skilled migrant.

If the job is not on the list then the burden is on the employer to prove they cannot find locals for the job.

Small to medium sized businesses may have to prove they can afford to employ a migrant worker.

There’s lot to navigate and if you get it wrong it can be expensive, time consuming and frustrating.

Further tips

  • Keep employment agreements current

  • Have up to date HR policies in place

  • Have wage and time records readily available

INZ and the Labour inspectorate are working more closely these days. INZ is naming and shaming non-compliant employers. Burger King was the latest employer to face a one-year ban on employing migrant workers.

Lukas Sousa is your contact person at Malcolm Pacific Immigration for visa advice.

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