New Zealand has announced temporary changes to immigration rules as the country is scrambling to plug a workers’ shortage in key sectors like construction.
A suite of measures will help relieve workforce shortages, including providing median wage exemptions to crucial sectors through sector agreements, temporarily doubling numbers under the Working Holiday Scheme, and extending visas to retain labour already in the country.
- Additional workers will be able to enter the country for sectors affected by international labour shortages;
- Aged care, construction and infrastructure, meat processing, seafood, seasonal snow and adventure tourism sector agreements put in place;
- Doubling of Working Holiday Scheme cap for 2022/23 will see an extra 12,000 working holiday makers able to enter New Zealand;
- Onshore working holiday makers visas expiring between 26 August 2022 and 31 May 2023 will be extended for six months to keep workers already in the country and those offshore given more time to travel;
“We have listened to the concerns of these sectors and worked with them to take practicable steps to unlock additional labour, we know these measures will help fill skills gaps as businesses work towards more productive and resilient ways of operating,” says Minister of Immigration, Transport, and Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Wood
“When we launched the immigration rebalance, we heard from key sectors they would need time to transition to the new rules. We have worked urgently alongside industry to develop sector agreements for the aged care, seafood, meat processing, construction and snow and adventure tourism industries that will be put in place from today,” says Minister of Immigration, Transport, and Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Wood.
Sector agreements allow for time-limited exceptions to the new median wage requirements for businesses hiring skilled migrant workers, keeping wage requirements more in line with those under the old immigration settings as they transition.
“Each agreement also includes expectations for improvement, including implementing Workforce Transition Plans and Industry Transformation Plans. Performance against these will be monitored and feed into reviews and decisions about future access to migrants below the median wage,” says Michael Wood.
The Government has also announced changes to help ease casual workforce shortages by temporarily increasing access to working holidaymakers by extending visas to those in the country and making an additional 12,000 spaces available.
“Since our borders have fully reopened, we are seeing the return of working holiday makers with approximately 4,000 already in the country and over 21,000 have had their application to work here approved.
Those who are already in New Zealand on a working holiday visa expiring between 26 August 2022 and 31 May 2023 will be able to extend it by six months.
“We will also provide an additional opportunity for those who previously held a working holiday visa but didn’t travel due to Covid-19 to come to New Zealand for the Summer. New visas will be issued to people from October 2022, allowing them to enter New Zealand by 31 January 2023. This visa will allow them to be in New Zealand for 12 months.
“We are also doubling the capped Working Holiday Schemes, with a one-off increase, to recognise the new spots last year due to the border closure. This will allow up to 12,000 working holidaymakers to enter and work in New Zealand over the next 12 months.
Summary of final settings for the Construction and Infrastructure sector agreement:
Access to below median wage roles without a cap for specified occupations with a $25 wage threshold, with a review in two years. The wage threshold would be updated yearly to reflect changes in the median wage to maintain its relative value. (ie 90 percent of the median wage).
A $25 wage threshold is already in place for several construction and infrastructure roles, and this will continue until the sector agreements come into force on 31 October.
For full details, click here.
Summary of Working Holiday Scheme changes:
- Extend visas for onshore working holiday makers that expire between 26 August 2022 and 31 May 2023 by six months from the expiry date.
- Additional opportunity for those who previously held a working holiday visa but didn’t travel due to Covid-19 to come to New Zealand for the summer. New visas will be issued to people from October 2022, allowing them to enter New Zealand by 31 January 2023. This visa will allow them to be in New Zealand for 12 months.
- Double the Working Holiday Scheme caps with a one-off increase to recognise the new spots last year due to the border closure. This will mean around 12,000 more working holidaymakers can come to New Zealand over the next six months.
New Working Holiday 417 visa arrangements for UK passport holders
The upgrade of the New Zealand and UK Working Holiday/Youth Mobility Scheme will come into effect as of July 2023. Both countries have agreed to extend the age of eligibility, maximum stay, and the length of time individuals can work. This will allow more New Zealand and UK citizens to travel and work in each other’s countries for a longer period of time.
The upgraded Youth Mobility scheme will allow New Zealand citizens aged between 18 to 35 to work and live in the UK for up to three years.
Source: © New Zealand Government – View the full Media Release here
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