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New Zealand Government Slams Door on Immigration

New Zealand Government Slams Door on Immigration

Posted on 17th September 2019 by Russell Phillips

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New Zealand Government Slams Door on Immigration

Thousands will be impacted.

Automotive Employment NZ ltd through their in-house licensed immigration adviser today advise of the most significant changes to Immigration policy seen in 30 years.

This is a game changing suite of polices.  Automotive Employment NZ’s Director Russell Phillips has been consulting top immigration advisers.  They are all in agreement that the changes are disastrous for employers already struggling to supplement skills shortages.  If there was any question what those Labour, NZ First and Green party coalition talks contained regarding immigration the worst-case scenario are now confirmed. 

This is a Government who seems to dislike migrants and has not just closed the doors to many migrants, they have slammed the door shut and given employers the fingers.

Before panic sets in too deeply it is important to note our licensed immigration, adviser notes there are still pathways for our most critical skills shortages.  Many migrants who hold roles such as Automotive Technicians and Diesel Mechanics and some other technical roles still have a pathway to residency.  Migrants who score 160 points or greater in many cases do not have to take what is now known as the work to residency route.  This means the threshold is not necessarily an obstacle for these qualified candidates as there is another pathway available to them where they do not have to meet the new $79,560 threshold that provides a route to residency.

Our immigration adviser sees the policy changes will largely impact vehicle and equipment sales personnel, service and parts department support staff, vehicle administrators and many of management roles for migrants who do not hold national or degree level qualifications.

From an employment perspective Russell Phillips advises these changes could prove a company killer for smaller companies already struggling to fill vacancies.  He also notes these changes seem designed to increase wages for NZ workers.  Get ready to see wage rates rise with alarming rapidity.  The market has just moved to become a talent acquisition war.  It will become virtually impossible for some companies to replace top end workers and an employer’s reputation, remuneration thresholds and connectivity with every employment resource available is now critical.  In this regard, with New Zealand’s largest database of motor industry candidates, Russell Phillips feels Automotive Employment NZ is well positioned.  The danger is skilled offshore migrants such as technicians who do qualify will now rate New Zealand as a second-class destination. Why will they come to New Zealand when it may be perceived by many it will be easier to relocate to other countries? 

These are just some of the changes announced Automotive Employment NZ note are the most significant changes to immigration policy settings in 30 years.  

Immigration NZ: Immediate changes for Talent Accredited Employers

From 7 October are:


• Increasing the wage or salary that a migrant work must earn to qualify for the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa from NZD $55,000 to NZD $79,560  Our licensed immigration adviser adds the following note: The new $79,560 threshold is for 40 hours so an employee such as a vehicle or equipment salesperson will need to earn $38.29 per hour. If employed on a 46-hour week, as some vehicle salespeople are, this is $91,494 per annuum.    Commissions are not considered income by INZ so the $91,494 must be the retainer/salary paid for the 46 hours. A challenging threshold it would seem.    


• limiting how long newly accredited employers will get accreditation for, and


• removing the option for a Permanent Resident Visa, in place of a resident visa, for those applying for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa.


Over the next 18 months, Immigration NZ will be bringing in changes that affect some employers and the migrant workers they employ. These include:

Introducing a new employer-led visa application process that will involve 3 stages — the employer check, the job check and the worker check.

a new temporary work visa that replaces 6 temporary work visas

  • using the level of pay to categorise a job in place of the existing skill bands — existing skill bands rely on a combination of level of pay and categorisation of the job under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).
  • strengthening the labour market test for low-paid jobs and open access for high-paid jobs in rural regions and lists in cities
  • introducing sector agreements for a range of industries that regularly employ migrant workers, and
  • reinstating the ability for lower-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand.

The new process will be designed over the next 18 months, so there is a lot of detail that is not yet available. This includes information about fees, processing times and evidence that employers and migrants will have to provide in support of their applications.

Employers will lead a new process for employing migrant workers

From 2021, employers wishing to employ migrant workers on the new temporary work visa will use a 3-step process.

  1. an employer check — it will be mandatory for all employers, including those with an existing accreditation, to be accredited under the new application process before they can hire migrants on the new work visa.
  2. a job check — this will include checking that the job is paid in line with the New Zealand market rate and, in some cases, will include a labour market test to ensure New Zealand workers are not available.
  3. a worker check — when the worker applies for a visa, they must show they meet our standard character, identity and health requirements, as well showing they have the skills to do the job they have been offered.


The employer check and accreditation

Immigration NZ are still working through the details of the accreditation process and consulting with employers in order to get a streamlined process. The 3 levels of accreditation will be:

Accreditation categories

  • high-volume accreditation — this is for employers who want to hire 6 or more migrant workers in a year
  • standard accreditation for employers hiring 5 or less migrants a year
  • labour hire employer accreditation


Some visas and employer schemes will be replaced

From 2021, a new temporary work visa will replace 6 existing visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa, and
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

At the same time 2 employer schemes will be removed:

  • approval in principle (AIP) before an employer hires worker on an Essential Skills Work Visa
  • accreditation as a Talent Accredited Employer.


Strengthening the labour market test

As part of the labour market test, employers will have to:

  • include the salary when advertising the job
  • provide information about low-paid jobs to MSD, and
  • accept potential workers referred by MSD for a low-paid job — although there are some exceptions.

Employers offering a high-paid job outside Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin will not have to do a labour market test. Employers in these cities will still need to undertake a labour market test for any job they offer, unless it is on a skills shortage list.

Sector agreements

Some industries hire large numbers of migrant workers and INZ will negotiate sector agreements with them. Sector agreements will include a workforce plan and conditions they need to meet for recruiting temporary migrants for specified occupations in the sector. The first sector agreements will be negotiated by mid-2020.



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