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3 Top of Mind Immigration Topics for HR Professionals

03 February 2022

With January 2022 already behind us, we have noticed an increasing sense of urgency in the immigration space, due mostly to a number of upcoming immigration policy changes, milestones and deadlines - even more so since this morning’s update from the Prime Minister! And while some of these policies may seem to directly impact migrant individuals and families, others will hugely impact employers, especially employers within industries that are heavily reliant on migrant talent. 

We understand that it can be overwhelming to decipher which immigration policies can have a direct impact on your business. This article should simplify immigration matters for you, so that you can focus only on the policies that impact your organisation.

1. Bringing in Staff from Overseas - Leveraging NZ’s Reopening Border

Although all of NZ is currently at the Red traffic light setting, the major announcement on 3rd February regarding NZ’s five step border reopening plan has shed some light for many organisations hoping to bring in talent from overseas.

With this new information, NZ employers can plan to bring in employees from overseas during the following steps/in the following ways:

Step 2 (from 11.59 pm on 13th March): 

  • Border opens to skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage and
  • Working holiday visa holders

Step 3 (from 11:59 pm on 12th April): 

  • Border opens to current offshore temporary visa holders who can still meet the relevant visa requirements and 
  • Further class exceptions for critical workforces that do not meet the 1.5 times the median wage test

Step 4 (by July):

  • The Accredited Employer Work Visa will open, meaning the skilled and health worker border exception can be phased out)

Step 5 (from October): 

  • Border fully reopens to visitors from anywhere in the world, and all visa categories fully reopen

While we still await additional information regarding these phases, we already know that health workers, farm managers, horticultural workers, tech sector professionals, those working for accounting services, and those in education and construction, will all be eligible to enter New Zealand later this year, self-isolate for a short period, and then begin their business.

Regardless of whether your organisation falls under any of the above categories or not, we encourage you to reach out to us, as border exceptions may be a viable option for you. We can work with you to bring in migrant talent so that your business can continue to reach its 2022 goals.

2. Employer Accreditation and the Upcoming 3-Step Process

After such a busy start to the year, it is easy to lose track of time: The introduction of the employer-led 3-step process is now five months away, and applications will open for submission in just over three months. These changes will impact every NZ employer who plans to hire migrants on an employer-assisted work visa.

We cannot stress enough the enormity of these changes. As INZ is rolling out a totally new system, this three-step process will be new even to employers who were previously accredited under the legacy system.

At a high-level, these are the key dates that employers should keep in mind:

  • 9 May 2022: Applications open for Employer Accreditation.
  • 9 May 2022: Applications open for Job Check.
  • 03 July 2022: Applications close under the Essential Skills Work Visa policy.
  • 04 July 2022: Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) policy goes live.

We recommend that you learn as much as you can before these deadlines are upon you. Download a complimentary copy of our brand new eBook, How to Hire & Retain Migrant Staff From 4th July 2022 to ensure your team understands the impact of these new policies, as well as how to prepare for them. 

3. 2021 Resident Visa - What Employers Should Expect From Phase 2

Last month was eventful for many 2021 Resident Visa applicants - not only did we see the number of issued visas grow to above seven thousand, but we also received confirmation from Immigration New Zealand that no 2021RV applications have yet been declined. 

So while it is understandable that the members of your staff eligible for 2021RV expect their application process to be smooth and uneventful, it is not always a guarantee. As we gear up for Phase 2 of the 2021RV application process, which is when the majority of the 65,000 eligible migrants will be able to apply, it is possible that any number of hiccups might occur. 

One nearly guaranteed challenge for applicants is that processing times may slow with the massive influx of applications, and therefore applicants’ 2021RVs may not be issued before their existing visas expire. If this is the case, this group of people should qualify for an automatically granted 2021 Interim Visa. But as this interim visa may not be the most sensible temporary option for everyone, your staff may wish to apply for an alternative visa that could allow for more flexibility.

Your employees may require your assistance as part of this visa application process, and we encourage you to be prepared for this. Even though you cannot legally offer immigration advice, you can support them during this process. We recommend that you take some proactive steps to understand the options that are available to your employees in this situation.

HR Professionals - Be Prepared for 2022

The hard truth is that with so many new immigration policies going into effect in 2022, confusion and complications are inevitable. While we cannot overemphasize the importance of educating yourself and your team about these upcoming changes and the impact they may have on your staff, we understand that immigration is not your top priority.

Aims Global is here to simplify immigration matters for you, so that you can focus on what’s important to you - your people and your business. During our upcoming employer webinar on 9th February, we will be going over all of these changes and giving updates relevant to employers. Please feel free to attend this complimentary webinar by registering here. Whether you require a long-term immigration partnership, or simply want to ask a few questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

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