Visa extensions for migrant workers: welcomed


Friday’s announcement from Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi that Essential Skills Visas would be extended, and application processing streamlined from Monday has been welcomed with a sigh of relief from the hospitality, tourism and primary sectors.

Employers of migrant workers need to be aware of new streamlined application processes and increases in visa duration. These changes came into place on Monday 19 July 2021.

Changes include:

  • Those who are on an Essential Skills visa who are being paid below the median wage ($27/hour) have been extended from 12 to 24 months
  • Removal of the requirement to provide medical and police certificates if they have already been provided to Immigration New Zealand
  • If the applicant is remaining in their current full-time employment and not changing their role, employer, or location of work
    • The employer will no longer need to meet the labour market test; and
    • Applicants and employers will be able to make declarations in place of providing evidence that the requirements are met

To be eligible for the removal of the labour market test and new evidence requirements, you must also hold one of the following visas:

  • Any work visa (including a Working Holiday Visa)
  • A student visa to study Master’s or PhD
  • A Critical Purpose visitor visa granted as a critical health worker or granted for more than six months as an ‘other critical worker’.

From 30 August 2021 migrant workers will be able to apply online for an Essential Skills work visa.

Labour market tests will still be required from employers for vacant roles, or where the worker will change the region they work in for the employer.

The above changes are going to be in place until at least the middle of 2022.

The introduction of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa is postponed until mid-2022.

BuckettLaw can keep you up to date with changes to migration workers status and employment law obligations and offer advice and assistance. Get in contact with us today.