New Zealand Law Society - Changes to temporary work visas

Changes to temporary work visas

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The Government has announced a number of changes to the employer-assisted temporary work visa system that will affect employer wanting to recruit temporary foreign workers.

The changes aim to improve the temporary work visa system by ensuring that foreign workers are only recruited for genuine shortages, while also providing incentives for employers to employ and train more New Zealanders.

The changes include:

  • Replacing six current employer-assisted temporary work visa categories with one new visa called the Temporary Work Visa.
  • Introducing a new employer-led visa application proves that will involve three stages: the employer check; the job check; and the worker check.
  • Linking visa conditions directly to pay by replacing existing skill bands with a simple remuneration threshold aligned to the median wage.
  • For higher-paid jobs, replacing the current set of skills shortage lists with lists for cities and open access for regions.
  • Strengthening the labour market test for lower-paid jobs and removing it altogether for highly-paid jobs in rural regions.
  • Increasing the remuneration threshold for the Work to Residence – Talent (Accredited Employer) visa category, as a transitional measure until this visa is closed.
  • Reinstating the ability for lower-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand.
  • Introducing sector agreements to support facilitated access to foreign workers in exchange for progress towards longer-term labour market improvements that place more New Zealanders into jobs in the sector and reduce the sector’s reliance on temporary foreign workers.

These changes support the Government’s wider programme of workforce improvements to tackle the long-term challenges of skills shortages and improve the way the immigration, education and welfare systems work together.