Immigration New Zealand has recently released multiple updates affecting several different visa categories.
Our Immigration team has provided a summary of some of the most important updates and new visa changes below.
2021 Interim Visa Manual ‘Extension’
2021 Resident visa applicants who currently hold Interim Visas, which are due to expire in the next few months, are now able to request a new interim visa. This will allow them to remain in New Zealand while their resident visa application is processed.
The new visa, once approved, will include conditions allowing overseas travel and re-entry into New Zealand. Travel is not normally permitted on interim visas, so the change appears to acknowledge the delays currently being experienced by 2021 resident visa applicants and allows them to visit friends and family offshore if need be.
There is no processing fee to request the new visa which will be valid for 12 months. Please reach out to us for details on how to request this visa.
Open Work Visas for Partners
The government’s proposal to remove ‘open work rights’ for partners of some work visa holders was a cause for concern for many of our clients. This has now been reversed and replaced with the following:
- Partners of Accredited Employer work visa holders and Essential Skills work visa holders can continue to apply for partner work visas with open work rights until 31 May 2023.
- After 31 May 2023, the work visa will be issued with conditions obligating the partner to only work for an accredited employer at a particular hourly rate, determined by the median wage rate, sector agreement or industry exemption in place at the time.
- Conditions will not be imposed on partners of New Zealanders; partners of Green Listers or those who earn double the median wage; or partners of those who hold other types of temporary visas.
As always, the devil is in the detail, so we recommend you connect with us for an assessment of your situation and aim to submit your work visa application before 31 May 2023 to avoid being caught out by these requirements.
Extension of Employer Accreditation Certificates
Originally announced in December last year, employers will receive a one-off 12-month automatic extension to their Accreditation Certificates if they apply before 4 July 2023. The goal is to remove the administrative burden of reapplying for accreditation while employers are getting used to the new Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme.
We have helped many employers with their accreditation and work visa application processes since the scheme opened last year and can assist with any queries or doubts you may have regarding the process. If you are not yet accredited, our advice is to take advantage of this free extension and apply before 4 July 2023 to effectively receive a 2-year accreditation certificate.
Median Wage Increase
The median wage has increased from $27.76 per hour to $29.66 on 27 February 2023. This has flow-on effects on most visa-related wage thresholds including the Accredited Employer work visa scheme. Unless exempt from the median wage rate, visa applications submitted from 27 February 2023 must meet the new threshold.
Job checks which are already approved can still be used to support a visa application however the rate at the time of submitting the visa application must also meet the higher threshold. Advertisements for new job checks must display the new rate.
There are industry and sector agreements in place which means many roles continue to be exempt from the median wage requirement. Call us for a quick discussion to see if your role is exempt or must pay the new wage. Importantly, the increase affects the Skilled Migrant Category, Green List and Highly Paid residence pathways as well.
Bus and Truck Drivers
Beehive has confirmed that bus and truck drivers will have a time-limited residence pathway through a sector agreement to support significant shortages in the transportation and heavy haulage industries in New Zealand. The process is at consultation stage with transport sector reps so watch this space for future news on this exciting opportunity.
Specific Purpose Work visa for Critical workers
Long Term critical workers can apply for a streamlined specific purpose work visa to continue working in their current role for up to 3 years.
You will only need to provide a letter from your employer confirming your employment on the same or better conditions, than those approved under your current visa.
This work visa can be applied for online and is not subject to the multi-staged and stringent processes under the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme. We recommend taking advantage of this opportunity if eligible and securing a longer-term stay in New Zealand while you work out potential residency options.
Green List Residence and Work to Residence pathways
More roles have been added to the Green List in March 2023 permitting even more occupations to qualify for direct residence or work to residence visas.
Call us to check if your role now qualifies under this list. The list will now be updated in mid-2023.
The Recovery Visa
A new specific purpose work visa category has been created to bring in migrants to support Cyclone Gabrielle recovery efforts.
This is a 6-month visa aimed to be processed within one week, if not sooner.
This scheme only applies to roles identified to support recovery and rebuild.
Temporary Role or Location Variation – Extreme Weather Events
Migrants already in New Zealand and who need to change their role or location for up to 2 months can do this without notifying INZ provided they stay with the same employer.
This is only for situations where the worker needs to work outside the conditions of their visa as a direct result of extreme weather events. Migrants wanting to move employers will still need to apply for a Job Change or Variation of Conditions.
Victims of Family Violence Work Visa
This visa scheme has been expanded to be available for victims of family violence who are on a partnership-based visa connected to another visa holder. It used to only be available for partners of New Zealand residents or citizens.
This is a 6-month open work visa and is granted if the migrant can provide evidence that domestic violence has occurred. The visa will be issued for a slightly longer term of 9 months if the migrant lodges a residence application at the same time. Another visa may be approved if a decision on the residence application is not made within this 9-month timeframe.
If you will benefit from further information on, or an in-depth assessment relating to any of the above changes, please reach out to us for an obligation free confidential discussion on your immigration options. Contact our immigration expert Hetish Lochan on [email protected] or 021 075 8147.