Proposed Changes to Temporary Work Visas

On 18 December 2018, the Government announced a set of proposed changes to the employer-assisted temporary work visa settings for consultation. The consultation process will close on 18 March 2019.

Which Visas are affected?

The following six temporary work visas are affected:

  • Essential skills including the essential skills in demand lists (ESID).
  • Approval-in-principle.
  • Talent (accredited employer).
  • Work to Residence – long-term skill shortage list occupation.
  • Silver Fern (practical experience).
  • Silver Fern (job search).

There are four proposals by the Government that are for consultation:

Introducing a New Frame Work for all Employer assisted temporary Work Visas

Under this proposed framework, it appears the responsibility for providing information at the initial stage of temporary work visa applications would fall to the New Zealand Employer as opposed to the migrant worker.

This proposal would require all New Zealand employers to apply for one of three types of employer accreditation.

  • Standard Approval; or
  • Labour Hire Company Accreditation; or
  • Premium Accreditation.

This proposal turns the current model “on its head” as it is optional for employers to be accredited under the “Immigration New Zealand Accredited Employer” scheme.

This proposal would mean all employers would have to hold one of the three “employer accreditation” statuses above in order to hire a migrant worker.

Replacing the Essential Skills in Demand Lists with Regional Skills Shortage Lists

The Government proposes to replace the Immediate Skilled Shortage List and Long Term Skill Shortage Lists with a Regional Skills Shortage Lists. The focus being on skills that are in short supply regionally rather than the generic national lists.

However, under the current proposal, employers would have to be accredited under one of the three accreditation schemes listed above to hire a migrant worker from the Regional Skills Shortage List.

Introducing Sector Agreements

Under this proposal, the Government seek to provide some certainty for employers in sectors that rely heavily on low skilled migrant workers.

The proposed sector agreements would assist businesses hire migrant workers easier and with more certainty. In return, the sector agreements will require employers to recruit and train New Zealand citizens and workers so that their reliance on migrant workers would decrease over time.

Improving alignment of Immigration, Welfare and Education Systems

The Government’s aim under this proposal is to prove the workings and use of resources between these different government agencies. These are the three agencies and Ministries that are most involved with our migrant work force and their families.

These four proposals represent a significant changes to the current model for the temporary work visa categories. In particular the shift from a migrant led or focused approach to one where the employer must attain “employer accreditation status” before they can hire a migrant worker.

Disclaimer: the information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your situation.