Work and residence: Woodhouse usher in changes
- in permanent immigration settings
- in temporary migration settings
- for some South Island temporary migrants
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse on April 19 announced changes to permanent immigration settings include introducing two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), which will complement the current qualifications and occupation framework. One will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid. These changes will come into effect on August 14, 2017.
He also proposed a number of changes to temporary migration settings to manage the number and settlement expectations of new migrants coming to New Zealand on Essential Skills work visas.
Additionally, the minister announced a one-off pathway to residence for around 4,000 long-term temporary migrant workers and their families living in the South Island.
Details on permanent immigration settings:
- The same number of points will be awarded for both an offer of skilled employment and current skilled employment in New Zealand.
- Remuneration thresholds are being introduced as an additional means of defining skilled employment.
- Applicants with jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 will only be awarded points for their employment if they are paid at or above NZ$48,859 per year (or NZ$23.49 per hour).
- Applicants with jobs that are not in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupations may be assessed as being in skilled employment if they are paid at or above NZ$73,299 per year (or NZ$35.24 per hour).
- Bonus points will be awarded for remuneration at or above NZ$97,718.00 per year (or NZ$46.98 per hour)
- Remuneration thresholds will be updated annually based on New Zealand income data.
- More points will be available for work experience.
- Points will be awarded for skilled work experience in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 and 3 occupations.
- Points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more. There will be no additional points for work experience of two years or more.
Qualifications, age and partner’s qualifications
- Points available for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase.
- Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase.
- Partner’s qualifications will only be awarded points if they are a recognised Bachelor’s level degree or higher or a recognised post-graduate (level 9 or higher) qualification.
Notably, points for the following factors will be removed:
- qualifications in an area of absolute skills shortage
- skilled employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas
- close family support in New Zealand
Details on temporary migration settings:
The Government has announced it is consulting on proposed changes to temporary migration settings to manage the number and settlement expectations of new migrants coming to New Zealand on Essential Skills work visas. The proposals are also designed to stop the reoccurrence of pools of long-term temporary migrants with no pathway to residence.
The proposals are designed to continue to enable firms to access temporary migrant workers where they have genuine shortages while reinforcing the temporary nature of work visas and reducing expectations of settlement from temporary migrants with no pathway to residence. "Immigration policy is premised on a New Zealanders first approach and employers are required to ensure they are doing all they can to train and employ New Zealanders. While lower-skilled Essential Skills work visa holders will have limits on the time they can spend in New Zealand employers will still be able to recruit temporary migrant workers, as long as they can demonstrate there are not New Zealanders available through the labour market test," says Immigration NZ.
Importantly, these changes would not be applied retrospectively for lower-skilled Essential Skills workers already in New Zealand. The three year maximum duration will start from the date their next lower-skilled Essential Skills visa is granted after the introduction of the changes to the Essential Skills policy.
Following consultation changes will be implemented in August this year.
The proposals for public consultation, which Cabinet have agreed to in principle, include:
- the introduction of remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder, which would align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for residence applicants under theSkilled Migrant Category
- the introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders, after which there will be a minimum stand down period before they can apply for another lower-skilled Essential Skills visa, and
- aligning the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand, with the new skill levels.
How to make a submission
"The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is consulting on proposed changes to temporary work visa settings, through the Essential Skills visa policy. The changes aim to ensure that settlement expectations are clear for temporary labour migrants and that the settings enable access to migrant labour where there is genuine need. We are consulting on the following proposals:
- using wage or salary information to help determine the skill level and visa conditions of Essential Skills migrants.
- reinforcing the temporary nature of the visa and managing the settlement expectations of Essential Skills migrants where they have no pathway to residence.
- reinforcing that Essential Skills visas may only be granted for the period for which the employment is offered.
Submissions received from the discussion document will help MBIE develop final proposals for the Government’s consideration. Submissions will close at 5pm on May 21, 2017.
You are welcome to make submissions on some or all of the proposals set out in the discussion document. You can choose which proposals to submit on.
Any person or organisation can make a submission. You can incorporate any relevant material in addition to the completed submission document.
You can make your submission by sending it as a Microsoft Word or PDF document to: ESConsultation@mbie.govt.nz. Please direct any questions that you have in relation to the submissions process to: ESConsultation@mbie.govt.nz. Please include your contact details in the e-mail accompanying your submission."
Details on South Island contribution visa:
The Government has announced a new policy to provide a one-off pathway to residence for around 1,600 migrant workers and their families who have been living in the South island for more than five years. The Government estimates there is likely to be approximately 3,200 - 4,000 people in total who may qualify, including partners and dependent children. To be eligible for a visa under this policy, applicants must:
- currently be on an Essential Skills work visa for a job in the South Island and hold current full-time employment with an employer who does not have a significant adverse employment record
- have been employed on an Essential Skills work visa in the South Island for five years or more at the time the policy is implemented
- be aged 55 years or younger and
- meet health and character requirements.
Eligible migrants will be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which would make them eligible for residence after two years provided they stay in the same industry and region. They will then be granted a resident visa, with conditions requiring them to stay in the same South Island region for a further two years.
The new policy is scheduled to come into effect on May 22, 2017. Applications will be accepted for 12 months from the effective date. Immigration instructions and further information will be available on the INZ website closer to the launch of the policy. Notably, there will be some flexibility regarding the five-year period to ensure that workers who are primarily based in the South Island, but have spent some time in the North Island as a result of the nature of their employment, are not unfairly penalised. There will also be sufficient flexibility to ensure that those who fall marginally short of the five year requirement will not be unfairly excluded from being eligible to apply for the pathway. Each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.