Our immigration team have compiled a selection of frequently asked questions and answers, which may be useful for businesses with immigration questions. These are hypothetical scenarios, and the advice is, of course, generalised. Each immigration situation always turns on its own facts. Therefore, this is general guidance, and not specific legal advice. We recommend seeking specific legal advice from our team of immigration experts.
Question – Our employee has an Essential Skills Work Visa, but left New Zealand in September 2020 and has since been stranded offshore, is there a process to facilitate their return to New Zealand?
Provided the expiry date of the employee’s current visa was on or after 1 January 2021 and their employment relationship with you is ongoing, then there may be a pathway for them to return.
There are some exceptions to the 1 January 2021 rule, along with other criteria relating to ‘time spent’ in New Zealand. As always, specific advice should be sought to examine the particular facts at hand.
Question – We require a team of specialist technicians, based offshore, to install overseas-made machinery into our operations. No one in New Zealand can install it. Is there are process to facilitate the manufacturer’s installers coming here?
Depending on the length of time that each installer is required to be New Zealand for, along with what each technician will be paid, it may be possible to secure Critical Purpose Visitor Visas for the installers. Broadly speaking, Immigration New Zealand must be satisfied that the installers have unique experience and technical or specialist skills that cannot be found in New Zealand.
Question – Our employee is thinking of leaving New Zealand to be reunited with their wife and 5-year-old son, who do not have visas. The employee would prefer to remain in New Zealand, but will likely leave in the next three months, because it is so long since he has seen his family. Is there a way for his wife and son to get visas, so that they can join him in New Zealand?
For the employee’s family to be eligible for visas, Immigration New Zealand must be satisfied that the employee and their partner lived together in a genuine and stable relationship.
The family’s eligibility to come to New Zealand will also depend on the type of work the employee is undertaking. The employee needs to be a critical worker, such as a critical health worker, a registered teacher, or meet the other critical worker definition. There may be a need for the employee to be earning at least $106,080 per year, based on a 40-hour week.
Question – Is Immigration New Zealand still processing visa applications, following this new lockdown?
It depends on the type of application, whether it was lodged online or in “hard copy”, and if the latter, what Immigration New Zealand office the application was delivered to.
INZ’s offices outside of Auckland will resume operation under Alert Level 2/Delta 2. The Auckland offices can mainly only process applications that have been submitted online, whilst the staff work from home.
There will be many Essential Skills work visa applications that were submitted in “hard copy”, prior to 30 August, that have not been processed because Immigration Officers have been unable to go into the office. If an employee’s visa is about to expire, it may be sensible to submit a new application online. This option became available for almost all types of Essential Skills visa applications on 31 August.
Employees can also now apply online to vary their work visas, for example to change to a new employer, but where they will be staying in the same role and location.
Question – We have an employee whose visa is expiring soon. We want to keep them in the same job and in the same location. Do we need to show whether there may be any New Zealand citizens or resident visa holders available to fulfil the employee’s role?
No, you do not need to do a labour market test. The employee is also not required to demonstrate that they are suitably qualified by training and or experience, to remain in the position. Further, the employee may not need to obtain new police certificates or medical certificates. This application can be made online, and there is a new, simpler, Employer Supplementary Form.
However, if you are moving the employee into a different job, such as a promotion, or moving them to a new location, you may need to demonstrate that you cannot find a New Zealander to fill the position. In this case, the employee will also need to prove they can do the job and may need to get new medicals and police certificates. The doctors approved by INZ to completed medical certificates will re-open at Alert Level 2.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, this is a rapidly changing environment and the information will be subject to change.