The New Zealand immigration space has seen some rapid changes these past few months compared to the lethargic last two years. The most important changes relevant to our community is summarised below.  It applies to employers and employees.

2021 Residence Visa

The “2021 Residence Visa” category is well underway with more than 7,000 applications approved since 1 December 2021. This is a positive outcome for both migrants and businesses employing and relying on skilled migrant workers. New Zealand is reliant on migrant workers in most of its economic sectors and with the borders being closed for nearly two years, there is a shortage of skilled workers in almost all sectors. The granting of residence to these migrant workers ensures that the employees can remain in New Zealand and continue to contribute at their workplace and to their communities. The next phase for the 2021 Resident Visa applications will open 1 March 2022.

Offshore skilled employees

As an employer, if you need offshore skills, you can apply for a Critical Work Exemption which will be assessed against specific criteria. If approved, your employee will be issued with a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa with Working conditions. The challenge will be the MIQ system which is a separate matter from Immigration law. The MIQ system is not sustainable long term and it is likely that changes will be made to this process during the course of 2022.

Accredited Employer Work Visa

The biggest change for the year will be implemented by 4 July 2022, which is the new work visa scheme named Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). AEWV will require all employers to be accredited to hire migrant workers, even if you wish to renew your current migrant employee’s work visa, you will have to be accredited. There will be different levels of accreditation; standard and high volume accreditation. Some of the requirements have been released but we will have to see how this plays out in practice and the turn-around times for accreditation. We strongly advise that your migrant employees renew their work visas now to have a valid work visa for at least 2 years in the event that the accreditation process takes longer than anticipated.

Dependent Child Student Visa

Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) has granted children aged between 17 and 25 domestic student status if they wish to enrol for tertiary study while waiting for their parent’s 2021 Resident Visa to be approved. This deemed status will continue until 31 December 2023. This is a life changing outcome for school leavers who were previously not able to enrol at a university due to the exorbitant international student fees or able to obtain their own work visa due to lack of skills and tertiary education. This item has been covered in the news often and the change is welcomed.

For more information contact Joamari van der Walt

Joamari Van der Walt │ LLB │ BComm(Econ)-Law (Stellenbosch) │