June 2017
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In This Issue
Serious changes in Skilled Migrant Residence and Work Visas
Work Visa Changes
You Need a Strategy.
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"I would like to thank James and Simon for the tremendous effort and advice of working through the complex issues of getting approved visas for my family.  You had a great understanding of my case which I am sure helped with the positive outcome. I will be forever grateful and will endeavour to continue using your legal knowledge in future."

John Tom

" My family and I are extremely grateful to James Turner and the team at Laurent Law for their help in successfully winning our family member's appeal against deportation. We were very impressed with Jame's professionalism and efficiency throughout the entire process. From the very start we were reassured by his ability to listen, offer advice, promptly action
every requirement and keep us up-to-date with progress. This was invaluable when going through such a stressful experience of the possible deportation of our loved one. Our sincerest thanks go to James and the team for achieving the best possible result we could wish for."

Kate Locke

Laurent Law Barristers & Solicitors
1st Floor, Target Building, 93 Dominion Rd
Mt Eden, Auckland, 1024, New Zealand
Ph.  +64-9-630-0411;  Fax  +64-9-630-0412

We released the Corporate Newsletter for May 2017 in error. We apologise for the inconvenience and request that you ignore it in favour of this Newsletter.

Since our last newsletter we have been incredibly busy.  So much so that while we have lost one lawyer to Australia (all the best, Mat!), two new solicitors will begin with us in July.  We will feature them on our new website, which is about to be launched.

In the last few weeks, the Government has announced several major changes to its policies across several sectors.  We will highlight just a couple, but these may affect many of our existing clients and the people that they know, so keep reading.

We have highlighted some common issues in our  law firm blog.  Subscribe to the blog in order to see up-to-date commentary on trends in the immigration field.

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Simon Laurent, Bill Milnes
LaurentLaw Barristers & Solicitors
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Your comments would be appreciated - including questions which you would like answered directly or in a future instalment.
The Government wants to be seen to be controlling the supposed flood of migrants and "putting Kiwis first"  in the employment space. In August, the Skilled Migrant Residence policy will be shifted to focus on what are deemed to be higher-quality migrants. At the same time, Essential Skills Work policy will shift too. Proposals for this are up for discussion at the time of writing.

If you, or someone you know, holds a Work Visa or is applying for Residence, then these changes could have a big impact on the ability to succeed in the future. If you have a stake in planning a pathway to Residence, then planning starts now.

Work Visa Changes

Eligibility for Work Visas will also be tied to the same salary bands. Although the Essential Skills Work changes are still at consultation stage, my attendance at an industry/INZ consultation in Wellington in early May strongly indicated that the income-related breakdown is here to stay.
  • "Higher skilled": Starting from the top, anyone earning above $73K will be able to apply for 5-year visas, and their job will be assumed to be skilled. This could open the door for many occupations which currently struggle to get recognition as skilled work - such as heavy machinery operators or some in high-risk, high-paying roles in construction.
  • "Mid-Skilled": Next, those in the $49K - $73K band whose job is ANZSCO Skill Level 1 - 3 will continue much as before, with the ability to get up to 3-year visas. We may lose the existing option of a 5-year visa for those earning over $55K.
  • "Lower Skilled": Below this, though, things are tougher. Anyone paid less than $49K can only get a 1-year Work Visa each time, up to a maximum of 3 years. After that it appears that they must leave New Zealand for a 1-year stand down period before they can apply for a further Essential Skills Work Visa. Alternatively they might be able to switch to a different class of visa. The same applies to any worker in a Skill Level 4 or 5 job earning up to $73K.
In addition, these groups of people will no longer be able to sponsor their partner for an open Work Visa, or have their children at school here as domestic students. This would probably make it unaffordable or unacceptable for workers to have their families here as visitors. They would either have to resign themselves to splitting the family up for several years - or not come here at all.
This will further hurt the hopes of many people at this level to upskill to Residence later:
  • Any plan for advancement to a salary over $49k must be completed within the 3 years.
  • Spending 3 years in NZ without family here will automatically weaken any claim that your relationship with your partner is still genuine and stable, if you then try to include them in a future application for Residency.
In my view there is a real risk of social dislocation arising out of a number of solo workers, usually male, passing their time here without the steadying influence of their accompanying family.

You Need a Strategy
Anyone who is in a job paying less than $49,000 needs to ask some hard questions:
  • Can I get a salary increase so that it is worthwhile for me to stay?
  • Do I need to look for another job that is better paid or is much more technically demanding than the one I have now?
  • If I can't move on up, must I give up on Residence altogether?
The other option people need to consider is whether to renew their existing Work Visa now in order to buy some time.  For instance, your current Work Visa is for a job paying $40,000, and it expires in October 2017.  If you apply to renew it before August, then you could get a 2- or 3-year visa if the job has the right sort of classification.  However, if you apply after 14 August then you will only get the 1-year visa, and your family may only be able to stay on Visitor's Visas.

This may be the time to discuss your options and get professional assistance about what to do.  The general information above is no substitute for getting the answers about your own case, on your own facts. 

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