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Consultation opens on proposals to improve temporary work visa settings Tuesday, 18 December 2018

On 18 December 2018, the Government announced it is consulting on proposed changes to employer-assisted temporary work visa settings to ensure that work visas issued reflect genuine regional skill shortages. The consultation will close on 18 March 2019.

The proposals released for consultation include:

  • introducing a new framework for all employer-assisted temporary work visas which will be employer-led, rather than migrant-led, and will include checks for employers, jobs and migrants
  • replacing the Essential Skills in Demand Lists with Regional Skills Shortage Lists
  • introducing sector agreements with sectors which rely heavily on migrant labour
  • improving alignment of the immigration, welfare and education systems.

For employer-assisted temporary work visas employers often have to demonstrate through labour market tests that there are no suitable New Zealanders available to do the work.

The proposals are designed to strike the balance between providing more incentives and support for businesses to employ more New Zealanders, and ensuring that access to migrant labour is available where there is a genuine need.

Consultation on the proposals is open to all individuals, groups and organisations. Final decisions will be announced by mid-2019.

Regions and industries will benefit from temporary work visa proposals | beehive.govt.nz

Consultation on a new approach to employer-assisted work visas and regional workforce planning | MBIE Corporate website

Affected visas

These proposals impact the following 6 temporary work visas:

  • 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).

Proposed new framework

The new framework will simplify the immigration system by reducing the number of pathways for employer-assisted temporary work visas into one enhanced framework that includes employer, job and migrant checks.

The current employer-assisted temporary work visa system is overly complex, includes a number of different visa options and does not respond sufficiently to sectoral or regional differences in the labour market. There are also too few checks and balances on employers hiring migrants, resulting in some employers with poor track records still being able to access migrant labour. Signals from the immigration system, for example the inclusion of an occupation on a skills shortage list or growth in temporary work visas for an occupation, generally do not trigger corresponding responses from the domestic labour market (such as by employers/industry and the compulsory education, tertiary education, welfare and employment systems).

Overall, the new framework will simplify the immigration system by reducing the number of pathways for employer-assisted temporary work visas into one enhanced framework that includes employer, job and migrant checks. It will also ensure that access to work visas is better matched to where there are genuine and high skill needs, and that the system provides more incentives and support for businesses to employ more New Zealanders.

Impact on employers

Currently, the migrant is the principal applicant for most employer-assisted visas. This means they must collect and provide information about themselves and the employer. This can create issues for employers, and also limits INZ’s monitoring and compliance of employers.

While the new framework would initially require more administration for most employers, the changes as a whole will make overall process faster for employers who meet the required standards and will support better compliance and assurance processes.