Immigration update – September 2023

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Special Counsel

Immigration New Zealand has recently announced a number of changes. They include:

  • The removal of the 90-day trial period for employers of Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) holders;
  • Additions to the Green List and the occupations covered by the Construction and Infrastructure Sector agreement;
  • Opening of the Work to Residence pathways;
  • Closure of the Recovery Visa and three month extensions for those already here;
  • Additional requirements for Accredited Employers who are triangular employers, and
  • Updates to the List of Qualifications exempt from Assessment, ahead of the introduction of the revised Skilled Migrant Category.

Removal of 90-day trial periods for employers of AEWV holders

Employers looking to hire people on AEWVs will no longer be able to use trial periods.

When does this change come into effect?

From 29 October 2023, employment agreements provided with a Job Check application must not include a trial period.

A new accreditation standard for the AEWV will also be introduced. This will require employers to commit to not using trial periods when hiring AEWV holders. If an employer is found to breach this standard it could result in loss of the accreditation.

Does this upcoming change apply to those who already hold an AEWV or have applied for one?

No, this upcoming change does not apply to those AEWV holders or anyone who has applied for an AEWV.

What are new occupations being added to the Green List?

Seventeen new roles will be added to the Green List. They are:

  1. Aviation Engineer (Avionics, Aeronautical, Aerospace Engineer)
  2. Naval Architects (aka Marine Designer)
  3. Mechanical Engineering Technician
  4. ICT Database and System Administrator
  5. Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  6. Road Roller Operator
  7. Paving Plant Operators
  8. Corrections Officer
  9. Metal Fabricator
  10. Pressure Welder
  11. Welder
  12. Fitter (General)
  13. Fitters and Turner
  14. Fitter-Welder
  15. Metal Machinist (First Class)
  16. Panel Beater
  17. Vehicle Painter

Whilst the upcoming inclusion of these occupations will be welcomed by many employers, the inclusion of Metal Fabricators, Pressure Welders, Welders, and Fitter and Turners will certainly provide manufacturers some welcome relief when looking to recruit overseas workers. Those who rely on overseas workers to supplement their workforce have and would have continued to struggle to recruit overseas workers, without them having a potential pathway to residence, when other countries have more attractive immigration policies.

When will the seventeen new roles be added to the Green List and what requirements will apply for each role?

The new occupations will be added to the Green List from March 2024. Details on the specific requirements for each role and the specific residence pathway have not yet been released.

What are the new roles added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement?

New roles will be added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement in early 2024. The roles being added are:

  • Driller’s Assistant
  • Earthmoving Labourer
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator
  • Linemarker
  • Machine Operators Not elsewhere classified (nec)
  • Mechanic’s Assistant
  • Road Traffic Controller

When will the Work to Residence pathway open?

From 29 September 2023 the Green List and Sector Agreement Work to Residence pathways will open. They will only be open to applications for those working in existing occupations on those lists.

What requirements must be met?

Applicants must demonstrate they have two years of eligible work experience in a Green List Work to Residence occupation or in a listed role covered by an eligible Sector Agreement.

Along with the work experience needed, applicants will also have to meet the age, health, and character requirements. All applicants aged 16 years of age or older will also need to meet the applicable English language requirements.

Is the Recovery Visa now closed?

The Recovery Visa closed on 23 September 2023. However, from this date, existing Recovery Visa holders already in New Zealand will be able to apply for a three-month extension. The purpose of this extension is to allow the holders time to transition to a longer-term work visa, if needed.

What changes have been introduced for accredited employers who are ‘triangular employers’?

INZ will assess a triangular employers’ financial viability when they apply for or renew their Accredited Employer accreditation.

In addition, triangular employers recruiting migrants for construction site work will need to have at least 35% of their workforce made up of New Zealanders. Currently the requirement is 15%.  INZ will assess the New Zealand workforce threshold at both the accreditation and Job Check stages. This pending change appears to be a direct consequence of the recent allegations of large numbers of migrant workers being brought to New Zealand, only to find there is no work.

When will these changes come into effect?

No date has yet been provided as to when these changes will come into effect. However, an announcement will be made available soon.

What are the changes to the List of Qualifications exempt from Assessment?

An updated List of Qualifications exempt from Assessment will come into effect from 29 September 2023. It will be in place for the opening of the revised Skilled Migrant Category resident visa, due to open on 9 October 2023.  The revised list will also be used for the Green List Straight to Residence, Green List and Sector Work to Residence categories.

The List will include seven countries. They are:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Ireland
  3. Malaysia
  4. Philippines
  5. South Africa
  6. United Kingdom
  7. United States of America

More qualifications from additional countries will be added to this list in further phases.

What if my qualification is not on this List?

Anyone holding an overseas qualification which is not on the List will have to obtain an International Qualifications Assessment before they can submit their residence application.

Need help understanding how these changes may affect you?

If you or your business has any immigration queries regarding these announcements, please contact our immigration team.


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.

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