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Comprehensive visa changes allow onshore migrants to help fill labour shortages

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The Restaurant Association is pleased that the Government has responded to the industry’s labour shortage needs by extending the visas for existing migrant workers for 6 months, along with other short term measures. This will take some of the pressure off those businesses struggling to find staff.

We have been advocating around the skill shortages members are faced with and this shows that the Government is taking our requests seriously to support the hospitality industry.

Many migrant workers currently in New Zealand will be able to stay and work here for longer, following adjustments to visa settings announced by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi. The Government have explained that the economy is bouncing back better than expected and we are seeing labour shortages across many industries. 

The visa setting changes will run well into 2021 and aim to provide certainty for employers and workers. The Government continues to assert that their priority remains to help get New Zealanders into jobs and encourages employers to continue focusing on longer-term workforce planning, training, and improving wages and conditions to attract a local workforce. Our new Springboard programme is one of those initiatives to help address training and retention of staff in the hospitality industry.

“With the labour market outlook being more optimistic, we are implementing a range of changes to ensure the migrant workforce already in New Zealand can supplement employers’ efforts to recruit New Zealanders who have lost jobs due to COVID. These changes will allow employers to retain their existing migrant workforce, they will still need to prove that no New Zealanders are available before hiring new employees,” – Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi

What is changing?

Six month extension for employer-assisted work visa holders

Employer-assisted work visa holders (and their partners and dependent children) who have a job and whose visas are expiring from January to July 2021 will have their visas automatically extended by another six months.

Postponed stand down period for low-paid Essential Skills visa holders

The stand-down period, during which low-paid Essential Skills visa holders have to leave New Zealand, will be postponed until January 2022. The stand-down period means that Essential Skills visa holders earning less than the median wage (currently $25.50) must leave New Zealand for 12 months after having worked here for three years before they can return.

Retain 2019 median wage of $25.50/hour for immigration settings until at least July 2021

Immigration New Zealand will continue to use the 2019 median wage of $25.50 per hour for immigration settings until at least July 2021 at which point the median wage will rise to $27 per hour.

Working Holiday visas extended by 6 months

Working Holiday visas will be extended for six months, and restrictions will be relaxed on the maximum duration of work permitted, allowing Working Holiday visa holders to continue working in any industry they choose. Working Holiday makers will no longer be transferred onto a Supplementary Seasonal Employer work visa when their working holiday visa expires. Migrants already on an SSE visa will be able to continue working for the horticulture and wine sectors, or apply for an Essential Skills visa if they find alternative qualifying work.

Immigration New Zealand will contact all eligible visa holders.

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