In mid 2019, INZ proposed robust changes taking effect over the subsequent 2 years on visa structures, processes and how employers would be allowed to hire migrant workers. Despite recent social media chatter and changing INZ website information that still suggests that migrant hiring in 2021 requires that employers be accredited, there has been no formal headway made towards implementation of Employer Accreditation since the range of proposed changes were first introduced in 2019.
This lack of traction is likely due to the COVID affected labour landscape having shifted dramatically, particularly with the respect to the supply of foreign workers which has been significantly reduced with the travel borders in place.
There have been actions completed and/or taken towards completion of the other tasks in the wider proposal.
What’s been Completed and What Remains Outstanding.
In August 2019, INZ in conjunction with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment proposed a variety of changes that they would phase in over the period to 2021. These included changes to visas and visa process which INZ defined as three ‘Checks’: Employer, Job and Migrant Worker. The most notable changes, and their present statuses include:
|1. Trimming down of temporary visa types from the current 6||Replacement of these are still underway|
|2. Shifting from using ANZSCO for skill level assessment to using remuneration||Completed:
• higher paid (>median wage) with 3 year duration
• lower paid (< median wage) with newly introduced 6 month visas
|3. Undertaking phased sector agreements, e.g., hospitality, construction, dairy farming, etc||Phasing with the first four sectors, including dairy, to have been completed in 2020. To our knowledge, none of the sectors have been done, including Dairy as confirmed with Fed Farmers and Dairy NZ. However, Dairy NZ are working on what this might look like so as to be on the front foot when INZ is ready to move on this.|
|4. Replacing the Talent Work to Residence (WTR) Accreditation through a new visa approval process based around ‘Checks’:|
1. Employer Accreditation
2. Job (pathway)
3. Migrant Worker
|• For Checks 1-2, there has been no formal direction given on requirements, process or costs nor surrounding, required programmes of work have not been completed;
• For Check 3 - The worker criteria are already standard requirements within the visa application process
o Health (eMedicals)
o Character (e.g. Police Certificates)
o Identity (Passport; Digital photo)
o Skills/Qualifications - Work evidence/certificates/diplomas
With the significant gaps in consultation, requirements, process and costs needed to implement any of the checks, we have little in the way of direction to allow Employers to prepare for the Employer Accreditation which INZ say will be “after mid-2021”.
Having said that, we’ve been keeping in touch with Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ- the latter who is already undertaking work in anticipation of the sector agreements. Likewise, based on the information INZ have provided, we’ve also been updating processes and information collection so that we are ready to assist employers with the accreditation process as soon as the rules are introduced.
There are a few steps that employers and workers can do as well:
- If you’re an employer, our best advice is to ensure that you are keeping compliant with employment and immigration law as compliance will a requirement for employer accreditation and the ability to employ migrant workers.
- If you’re a migrant worker, similarly, you need to ensure that you are complying with the conditions of your visa, notably those that specify on which farm and position you can work.
We’ll continue to provide updates but if you have any questions, please contact us at 09 303 3505 or through email here.