LaurentLore Corporate Edition
November 2017
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In This Issue
A Year of Changes
New SMC Regime
Work Visas
Change of Role
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Laurent Law Barristers & Solicitors
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This, our Corporate newsletter provides information about immigration which we consider to be relevant to Corporates and Employers. We also produce a separate 'business' newsletter focusing on entrepreneurs and investors, and a 'migrant' newsletter offering advice to prospective and recent migrants to NZ.  
This issue concentrates on changes in immigration and covers:
  • Skilled Residence (SMC)
  • Work Visas - skill levels/salary
  • Change of Role - promoting a migrant employee.
  • It's getting harder - tougher assessment, common mistakes.
  • Market rates for wages and salaries.  
You can subscribe to our  law firm blog or newsletters to hear up-to-date commentary on trends in the immigration field.
Who do you know who should get this newsletter? 

Yours sincerely
Bill Milnes and Simon Laurent
Laurent Law Barristers & Solicitors
Email Me   and please add this email address to your Contact List
Your comments would be appreciated - including questions which you would like answered directly or in a future instalment.
A Year of Changes
Obvious political changes but also, not so obvious until your employee gets caught, are changes in how immigration applications are considered and decided.

Discussions with senior staff at INZ have confirmed what we'd assumed, that over the last year, because of the pre-election media interest in immigration, there has been considerable political pressure on INZ officers to decline or reject applications where they can.

Consequently, we have experienced our busiest year ever, as we are asked to help sort out mistakes by applicants and employers which have led to challenges by INZ.  See It's Getting Harder, Common Mistakes, below
The New Skilled Migrant (SMC) Regime
The points-based Skilled Migrant category was reopened at the end of August, and now includes some subtle but significant changes.
The points threshold remains at 160 since it was raised to that level in October 2016.  This means that an offer of skilled employment is a fundamental requirement for any SMC application.
The points weighting has been shifted to give greater recognition to past work experience.  It may now be possible for a senior executive or technical specialist to get through even though they never got any formal qualification when they started out.
However, points for work experience will now only be granted if INZ is satisfied that it was "skilled" work experience.  That is, they now subject it to the same level of scrutiny as was previously reserved for the current offer of skilled employment.  We are starting to see significant problems for some clients because of this shift in emphasis.
What is defined as 'Skilled Employment' and 'relevance' of work experience and qualifications continues to be argued with INZ and through the appeal system. Unfortunately, INZ is not legally required in all cases to refer to relevant appeal decisions.  As a result, many of the same issues are repeatedly and unnecessarily raised.
  Work Visas  
Work Visas are now based on whether a job is identified as high, medium or low skilled with salary levels added to the ANZSCO requirement.
(Click on the link, insert the job title in the Search field, and check that the tasks identified are substantially similar to your PD).
  • Higher skilled - Anyone earning above $35.24 per hour. Visas may be granted for up to 5 years.
  • Mid-skilled - ANZSCO skill levels 1-3 and earning above $19.97 per hour. Visas may be granted for up to 3 years.
  • Low skilled - ANZSCO skill levels 1-3 earning less than $19.97 per hour; and skill levels 4-5 earning less than $35.24 per hour. Visas may only be granted for 12 months with a maximum of 3 years in NZ before the applicant must leave NZ for at least 12 months, These applicants may only support partners or children for Visitor's Visas unless they meet Work or Student Visa criteria in their own right.
The Government hopes to either stampe out what they see as low-end migrant employment, or to force employers to raise wages in order to keep valuable people and skills.  Employers who rely on overseas workers need to make some strategic choices about how to structure the positions on offer and the salaries being paid.
If you wish to promote a migrant employee to a new position, we recommend that a completed Work Visa application be submitted to INZ at least 2 months before the expiry of the current visa.
When an application is made for a visa, INZ usually grants an interim visa to maintain the legal status of the applicant while the application is being processed.
If all the visa conditions remain the same, the Interim visa will allow the applicant to continue working.
If there are any changes, including the position on offer, the interim visa will only have Visitor conditions and the employee cannot continue to work in the meantime.
The same applies to those who have Open conditions on their existing Work Visa (such as young Working Holidaymakers from Europe).  In such cases the Work Visa label does not specify who they can work for, and will simply say "Any employer" in "any occupation".  Check carefully what their visa label says before planning to support a new visa application for them to work for you.
Because INZ visa processing times vary considerably between branches, type of visa and other pressures, it should be expected that a paper-based application may take at least 4-6 weeks to be processed. Online applications may be processed more quickly, but don't count on it.
If there are challenges with the application, that time will escalate and the applicant must stop work the day the vsa expires.
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