This is a very challenging time for business with some facing uncertainty whether they can reopen; confronted by having to shed staff numbers; managing reduced or zero working hours and watching revenues plummet.
On the other hand, the economic tradeoff is the sacrifice we are all making to all save lives of thousands of kiwis. You simply cannot put a dollar value on that. This is a time to hold on tight to each other to get through with compassion and kindness.
The latest news on the immigration front.
The border remains closed
There are no changes as to who can cross New Zealand’s border since when we last wrote on the tight border closure restrictions. See our previous newsletter.
The government has now introduced 14 days mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving in New Zealand. This is expected to last for some time. It will be interesting to see as business gears up post lock down if employers recruiting talent from offshore can secure exemptions from the border closure if they are prepared to fund the cost of an employee’s quarantine or isolation.
We have a number of employers desperate to get staff into New Zealand and if you are encountering problems get in touch with our team.
Visa applications can still be lodged during lockdown
Immigration NZ (INZ) processing offices in New Zealand and overseas remain closed. This means most visa applications are not being processed until INZ staff can return to work. Visas for essential workers (such as health workers) and border closure exemptions are the only applications being processed by INZ right now.
However, many temporary visa applications are lodged online. Malcolm Pacific Immigration are still lodging plenty of applications for our clients right now.
Several visa applications are only paper based and need to be lodged manually. These include Skilled Migrant, Residence from Work, Permanent Resident Visa, Variation of travel or work conditions etc. Malcolm Pacific Immigration are also lodging these applications.
Processing of visa applications will not resume until INZ reopen. However, by acting now our clients are getting as close to the front of the queue as possible. No doubt there will be very long delays as INZ play catch up on the vast numbers of applications received during lockdown.
The future of labour market testing
Employers who have recruited overseas workers will be very familiar with the need to prove there are no suitable qualified/experienced kiwis available to fill a job before that job can be offered to a migrant worker. That has been government policy for decades and there is no sign this is about to change (and frankly nor should it).
With economists and Treasury predicting a sharp rise in the number of unemployed we anticipate the labour market test will ramp up. INZ will put employers advertising efforts, job descriptions, prior engagement with WINZ and pay rates under the microscope.
Employers act rationally when it comes to recruitment by wanting to appoint the best suited to any vacancy. However, the labour market test ignores this logic and is only interested in whether there are kiwis out of work who could do the job. If there are then a work visa is highly unlikely to be approved.
Take professional advice to get advertising, job descriptions, recruitment efforts and the visa application right from the beginning. Trying to sort something after a visa application is lodged is much harder and more costly. Whatever happened yesterday when you recruited migrant workers will not be the same tomorrow under the new normal.
Work visa flexibility for some essential workers
The government has given limited flexibility to workers at major supermarket chains. Work visa holders already employed in supermarkets can work in additional roles beyond those set out on their work visa and international students can work more than 20 hours. This dispensation is set to end on 25 April 2020.
The Healthcare sector has limited flexibility to keep lower skilled healthcare workers beyond the three year maximum period a work visa holder can remain in New Zealand. International students can work more than 20 hours a week until 3 July 2020.
Normal employment law applies to all these situations.
Malcolm Pacific Immigration
Our teams are working remotely, and phones are answered 24/7. Call us anytime on 0800 800 612 or use our Contact page to get in touch.
We are happy to provide advice and assistance however we can to help get you and your team through this challenging period.
Kia kaha (stay strong) and stay safe.