Get Ready for The Upcoming Work Visa Changes

When and How Will The Proposed Visa Changes Affect Your Business?

An Overview to Help You

We’ve put together this overview to give you an idea of what these proposed changes are and when and how they might affect your business.

Remember, these changes will be wide-ranging and they will affect employers up and down the country and across industries.

As you know, bringing skilled people into the country is the lifeblood of New Zealand, as a full workforce means that companies can take on projects and grow their businesses.

Currently, an employer will advertise a role and international applicants who are selected and offered the job through the recruitment process will then lodge a work visa application, most often under the Essential Skills work visa instructions.

There is only one application required from the worker and generally no direct interaction between Immigration New Zealand and the employer.

The major shift around the proposed changes is the introduction of an enhanced “Gateway” framework. These changes will take the visa processing, which was previously migrant-led, to an employer-assisted framework.

Here’s how it’s likely to work.


Gate 1 – Employer Requirements

Under the proposed changes, employers will need to become Accredited with Immigration New Zealand. In effect, this will offer permission to support the visa applications of any non-New Zealander citizens or residents. This will be referred to as Gate 1.

Compared to current instructions, where employers don’t need accreditation to be able to recruit and have a visa approved for a potential employee, this is a huge change.

All employers intending to support workers on visas will be required to be accredited with Immigration New Zealand with either:

  • Standard accreditation
  • Labour hire accreditation
  • Premium accreditation

Businesses hiring 6 or more migrant workers per year will need to apply for Premium Accreditation, if they don’t already hold the current equivalent. We anticipate that the Premium Accreditation will be similar to the current Employer Accreditation under the Talent policy.

If your business already holds Accredited Employer status, you will not need to reapply for Premium Acccreditaion.

If your company does not currently have Accredited Employer status under the current policy, you will need to obtain either a Standard or Premium Accreditation to be able to employ workers from other countries.

If you are a Labour Hire Business that recruits offshore, you will be required to obtain a Labour Hire Accreditation.

You should act now to secure Accreditation. Without one, you could be prevented from hiring migrant workers now and in the future.

Gate 2 – Job Offer Check

This is the labour market testing phase. In addition to the current requirements, Immigration New Zealand is also proposing to introduce:

  • Regional Skill Shortage Lists (to replace the current Essential Skills in Demand lists).
  • Industry Sector Agreements.
  • An increased hourly rate for mid-skilled roles (from $21.45 per hour to $25 per hour).
  • Removal of the labour market testing requirements for salaries over the highly-paid threshold (at least 150% more than the current national median income for Premium Accredited employers and 200% for all other employers).
  • An increase in the salary requirements for the current Work to Residence instructions to a minimum of $78,000 per annum.


Gate 3 -Individual Check

The final proposed stage before a work visa can be issued is the Individual Check. This stage relates to the person applying for the visa with a job offer in place.

At this point, Immigration New Zealand will assess the identity, character and health of the applicant and determine their suitability for the job offered by analysing their experience, skills and qualifications.

The intention of the gateway framework is to strike a balance between providing incentives and support for businesses to employ more New Zealanders, while ensuring that those that have a genuine need for migrant labour still have access to it. With everything that the proposed changes imply it will pay to develop a plan to minimise any negative impact on your business, your current employees and any future hires you may need to make.

As always, the team at Working In New Zealand is here to help. We believe in New Zealand and the importance of skilled workers across all industries to help the country develop and flourish as it needs to.

Contact to discuss how we can guide you through the proposed changes to the skilled migration process and develop a clear, workable visa strategy that sets you up for ongoing success.


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