Mixed Results from INZ Changes
This week the Minister of Immigration announced some long awaited, but not wholly welcome, decisions and changes relating to immigration regulation.
As most of you know through FRENZ’ parliamentary petitions and media conversations, we have been pushing the government to act with fairness, consideration and equity to both employers and workers.
We view yesterday’s announcement as mixed results towards this desired outcome.
The most notables for our migrant employees and employers are:
- The 36 month ‘standdown’ maximum stay remains for ‘lower skilled (now unskilled) visa’ so that these workers must leave NZ thirty six months after their first visa granted post 27 August 2017 .
- ‘Lower skilled’, ‘mid skilled’ and ‘higher skilled’ visas are changed to ‘unskilled’ and ‘skilled’ as defined by pay. One way to remember is ‘lower paid’ versus ‘higher paid’ with the threshold being set by hourly rate for median pay – currently $25 per hour.
CAREFUL! Some in the industry are celebrating prematurely as they do not understand the threshold correctly. It is incorrect to claim that workers will be considered Skilled if they earn $53,000 per annum in the dairy farming industry. The medium income is calculated on an hourly rate – currently $25/hr. If workers earn less, they are not considered to be in skilled employment.
So please be careful with the $53,000 claim – it’s simply incorrect. An annual salary in farming is not based on 40 hrs but more like 50 hrs per week. At 50 hrs per week workers would need to earn $65,000 to be considered skilled.
Temporary Visa Changes
- Currently, to secure a 3 year visa, workers would need to meet salary, qualifications, title and experience criteria. ONLY salary will remain relevant in the middle of next year with the new changes. Workers either earn$25/hr or more and are considered skilled or, if they earn less, they are considered unskilled.
- From mid next year, wages need to meet the median wage to qualify for ‘skilled’ visa.
So please be careful if you read the $53,000 claim – it’s simply incorrect. An annual salary in farming is not based on 40 hrs but more like 50 hrs per week. At 50 hrs per week you would need to earn $65,000 to be considered skilled.
Family support where partners and children can come and stay for the duration of the visa will be allowed for all visa holders – with conditions though:
- For Skilled visas, partners of visa holders will have work rights. Partners of unskilled visa holders will have no work rights unless they secure a work visa on their own merit.
- Income thresholds for the unskilled visa holder will need to be met as directed by INZ, but are not yet set. The hourly rate will likely to be less than 25/hr but more than $18.90 (next year’s minimum wage threshold).
- The low skilled partner visa is essentially a visitor visa for partner and family with no work rights unless they are secured by the partner on their own merit. Nor will families of low skill visa holders be able to avail themselves of publicly funded healthcare services. Children at school age are eligible for domestic student fees. Relationships will be carefully assessed to see if they meet INZ standards for a genuine and stable relationship.
This information has been distilled down to answer immediate questions that our clients have. We will be sending you more information in the coming week with additional information on the temporary visas as well as accreditation and sector agreements. In the meantime, please contact us if you have any questions.