Laurent Law Barristers & Solicitors
7A Maidstone St
Grey Lynn, Auckland, 1021, New Zealand
Ph. +64-9-630-0411; Fax +64-9-630-0412
Laurent Law has undergone some changes since our last Corporate News. We have moved to new premises in Grey Lynn - cheaper rent, and a more efficient use of space. However, all our other contact details remain unchanged.
Two Staff Solicitors, Dew James and Jacqui Lee, moved on to new careers earlier this year. In June, Sahar Shamia joined us from a major immigration advisory company, and has been doing great work for a wide variety of clients.
The field of employer-assisted migrant visas remains controversial. What is still in the works is the major rewrite of Work Visa policy which I wrote a blog about earlier this year. In the meantime, some other tinkering has been going on, as explained in one of the articles below.
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Accredited Employer Salary Jump
Some of you will already have heard that the salary threshold for employing migrants under the Accredited Employer ("AE") scheme was increased by about 45%, from $55,000 to $79,560 p.a.. From 7 October 2019, anyone applying for a visa under this policy must be paid at the new level in order to qualify.
This does not invalidate existing accreditations issued to employers at the old rate. However, they too cannot take advantage of accreditation to hire new people unless they now offer around the $80,000 salary. The exception is where an existing employee, who has an AE Work to Residence visa, has applied for Residence on that basis, and needs to extend their visa. They can still rely on the old salary level which was in force when they got their first visa.
We have already seen businesses, who wished to take up Accreditation, walk away from the scheme in frustration. It is true that the old salary level is now not far from the NZ median wage, but one must ask why it had to be ramped up so much, so quickly.
The worst impact, though, is on firms which already hold accreditation. For some of them it has rendered that piece of paper worthless. Looking at the bigger picture, and somewhat cynically, it appears that Immigration New Zealand aims to turn off the tap on AE visas in preparation for its new 3 Gateway system. However, it doesn't appear that this will be operational until sometime in 2021.
In the meantime, some employers holding Accreditation will be reduced to supporting individual Essential Skills Work Visa applications. All that work that went into getting Accreditation has been rendered useless to them. In an environment where the job market is tight, and employers face ever more compliance challenges, this is just not helpful.
Some Unskilled Jobs Just Got Skilled
But only if you get paid enough, it seems
Love it or hate it, people working in the migrant HR space must work with the ANZSCO job classification system. This attempts to classify all jobs at a range of Skills Levels from 1 (High) to 5 (Low). A new version 1.3 has recently been introduced, and significantly this elevates a number of occupations from Skill Level 4 or 5 up to Levels 1 - 3.
For reasons that are not clear, Immigration New Zealand says that it will not start using ANZSCO version 1.3 until mid-2020. What it will now do instead, starting from the end of October, is to treat the jobs that have been promoted to Skill Levels 1 - 3 differently. In order to take advantage of this, however, the employer must pay at least $25 per hour. In that case:
- For Essential Skills Work Visas, the job will be deemed to be Mid-Skilled, which enables the worker to get a 3-year Work Visa, and they can bring their partner and children over on an open Work Visa and on Student Visas respectively. Importantly, the company will no longer be forced to get a Skills Match Report from WINZ; and
- For Skilled Migrant Category Residence, the job will be treated as "skilled employment" and qualifies for points in the SMC points system. Previously, they had to be paid $37.50 per hour to achieve this, or 50% above the national median wage.
Quite a lot of jobs are affected as shown in the list maintained by INZ. Some key examples are Residential Care and Personal Care Assistants (who often work in rest homes); various textile Machine Operators; Outdoor Adventure Guides; and Bookkeepers. But there are some anomalies. While Train Drivers are in, Truck Drivers are not.
This development continues the trend of linking a person's skills with the amount that they get paid. Whether or not one agrees with the philosophy behind this, it might at least be good news for some migrants who effectively have been shut out of getting Residence, or who have faced greater barriers to getting a Work Visa.
We suspect that, when it comes to making applications under the new settings, things may not be so straightforward. Talk to us if you think your business might benefit from the changes.
SUCCESS STORY: When You Want it Done Quick
previous issue of Laurent Lore
we talked about just how useful the Specific Purpose Work Visa mechanism can be. It comes in a number of flavours, but generally it allows a company to bring a key technical or management person over to perform a particular job or project.
Handled well, an application can be approved within days. This is in sharp contrast to the tales of woe about huge visa delays, which have
Take for example the request from a major New Zealand manufacturer to help with a European machinery installation and servicing technician. He originally came in himself without applying, and (luckily) got a 2-week Work Visa on arrival. But the company needed him for longer. So timing was pretty tight by the time we got to talk to them, and to him.
got started on a Thursday afternoon. It took exactly a week to get everything she needed from the employer. The application was submitted through INZ Online late next Thursday afternoon. The Work Visa would expire that Sunday, but with a new application underway he would at least go onto an Interim Visa.
Next Wednesday, the Specific Purpose Work Visa was approved. It had taken Sahar's direct intervention with INZ Management to stop it going off the rails, but in the end it was turned around in 4 working days.