September 28, 2021

Govt grants six-months extension for 10,000 onshore migrant workers

Govt also approves 200 dairy workers, 50 vets to enter NZ

By: Gurbir Singh

Around 10,000 Working Holiday visas and Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visas due to expire, will be extended for another six months to help manage ongoing labour shortages. This will be applicable to those visas that are expiring between 21 June and 31 December 2021

This will benefit both employers as well as visa-holders as the changes will bring more certainty, says Immigration Minister, Kris Faafoi.

SSE visa holders will also be given open work rights allowing them to work in any sector, according to this morning’s announcement.

Essential Skills work visas will not be extended again, but the duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid below the median wage will increase from six to 12 months taking them back to pre-COVID settings. The implementation of the stand-down period for these jobs will also be further postponed until July 2022.


Highlights:

  • Working Holiday visas and SSE work visas expiring between 21 June and 31 December 2021 will automatically be extended for six months.
  • SSE work visas will be with open work rights allowing them to work in any sector.
  • Anyone onshore who has previously held a temporary work visa will still be able to apply for a SSE work visa. New visas granted under this category will be restricted to work in the horticulture and viticulture sectors.
  • Essential Skills work visas will not be extended again
  • The median wage increase will apply to Essential Skills work visa applications, as well as Skilled Migrant Category residence applications and the Other Critical Worker border exception category.
  • The implementation of the stand-down period is being further postponed until July 2022. The stand-down period requires people on lower-paid Essential Skills work visas to leave New Zealand after a certain amount of time before they can apply for another lower-paid work visa.
  • Govt has approved border exception for additional 200 dairy workers and 50 veterinarians to enter New Zealand.

Alongside these changes to Essential Skills work visas, from 19 July, visa applications will be assessed against the updated median hourly wage rate of $27. This pay rate will determine whether jobs are treated as higher or lower paid. The wage rate was set following public consultation.

Employers paying under the median wage can still access migrant workers but will need to check with the Ministry of Social Development to see whether a registered job seeker is available.

Immigration New Zealand will contact all visa holders eligible for the Working Holiday or SSE visa extension by 25 June 2021.

Meanwhile, the Government has approved border class exceptions for an additional 200 dairy workers and 50 veterinarians to enter New Zealand.

This new class exception will allow veterinarians to enter New Zealand if they have between 3-5 years’ experience and meet the remuneration threshold of $85,000 per year, according to another announcement this morning.


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