Work Visa rules changed


The government made several changes recently that impact businesses who employ or intend to employ migrant workers.

Essential Skills Work Visa applications (labour market tested) are now assessed based on the pay rate offered in the employment agreement. The proxy is the median wage (currently $25.50 per hour but subject to annual change; usually in November).

Visa applicants with job offers below the median wage need their employer to engage with Work and Income (WINZ) to secure a Skills Match Report. This means WINZ will expect a business to lodge the job vacancy with them first to see if there are kiwis available to fill the role before issuing the report to join the work visa application. More detail on the WINZ process is at https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/employers/help-with-recruitment/hiring-someone-from-overseas.html

Jobs paying below the median wage need to be widely advertised (e.g. Seek, Trademe jobs etc) to satisfy the labour market test. If the visa is approved, it is valid for only 6 months. Each time the work visa is renewed the WINZ engagement and advertising needs to be undertaken before applying for the visa. This reflects the fast changing job market and applies to every Essential Skills application lodged before 10/01/2022. The maximum time a person paid below the median wage can remain in New Zealand is 3 years and then they need to leave the country for at least 12 months before applying to return. A pay rise may help a good worker stay longer!

Those paid above the median wage may secure a visa valid for up to 3 years. The job still needs to be widely advertised but no engagement with WINZ is required.

There are no longer 5 year work visas.

About 16,000 work visa holders received automatic 6 month extensions. When the extended work visas come up for renewal be prepared to show you have really turned over the local labour market before supporting a work visa application. This automatic extension did not apply to any family here with the worker and they do need to reapply before visas expire.

ANZSCO codes will still need to be declared in Employer Supplementary forms. No longer required for a skill level assessment these codes will be used to assess what relevant work experience and/or qualification the visa applicant should have to carry out the job and to gather statistical data for future policy development.

In mid 2021 all businesses that employ migrant workers need to be accredited. If you want to get your business ahead of the queues, contact our Business Development Manager Lukas Sousa

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