In September 2019, INZ announced that it would replace six key work visa types with a new employer-led "gateway framework" and a single "employer-supported work visa" category. Further detail around the criteria for this new visa system was expected to be released, in late-2020.
Recent announcements from INZ confirm that further updates will now follow in 2021, with the implementation of this new "gateway framework" scheduled for after mid-2021.
Recapping the new "gateway framework"
The categories that will be replaced by the new employer-assisted visa scheme include:
- Essential skills, including approval in principle
- Talent (Accredited Employer) work to residence
- Long Term Skill Shortage work to residence
- Silver Fern job search
- ?Silver Fern practical experience
Step 1: Employer check
This involves mandatory accreditation for all employers looking to support work visa applications.
Step 2: Job check
As the labour market check phase, this will introduce:
- Regional labour market test rules; or
- Relevant Industry sector agreement; or
- No labour market testing for salaries at 200% of the median wage (currently $106,080).
Step 3: Individual check
As the final stage before a work visa can be issued, this will assess the identity, character and health of the work visa applicant. It will also look at whether the potential employee is suitably skilled through relevant qualifications and/or work experience.
These changes are significant, and will impact all New Zealand employers looking to support work visa application and individuals looking to apply for employer-supported New Zealand work visas.
Employers should use this time to prepare for a mandatory accreditation framework. Suggested preparation includes:
- Having employment contracts and HR policies reviewed for compliance
- Making genuine attempts to fill vacant roles with NZ citizens or residents
- Putting a focus on up-skilling and training NZ citizens and resident employees
- Taking particular note of employment and immigration law rules and compliance
- Tracking the visa expiration date of your migrant worker population. This includes ensuring that any variations to employment terms are compliant with specific work visa conditions
- Signing up to Visaview here! and using this to verify the visa status of new employees
Accredited employers should also encourage employees earning $79,560+ to apply for a 'work to residence visa' in the first part of 2021. This is because the salary threshold to enjoy a streamlined residence pathway is expected to increase from $79,560 to approximately $106,080 as part of this new framework.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.