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NZ's Big Immigration Reset - Looking Ahead to 2022

03 November 2021

On Wednesday, 20 October 2021, Aims Global held a virtual panel discussion, where we discussed the recent immigration policy announcements and their impact on NZ’s talent crisis with managers from Immigration NZ and industry experts from RCSA and Auckland Business Chamber.  

Following 18 months of closed borders, heightened travel restrictions, lockdown fatigue, INZ application backlog, MIQ bottleneck and a general feeling of uncertainty, it came as no surprise that business confidence within the Auckland region is currently quite low. In a recent survey by the Auckland Business Chamber, 90% of SME Business owners reported significant erosion in equity, yet 80% of businesses say they are determined to survive - a very real snapshot of the current mental state of employers and business owners.

Therefore the recent updates in the immigration space bring a welcome change to employers, allowing them to better support their migrant staff (many of whom may now be eligible for NZ residence) and develop a plan ahead of 4 July 2022, when employer accreditation becomes mandatory for anyone wanting to support an employee work visa. 

Although the panel covered many topics, all panelists collectively agreed that the following five areas should remain employers' priorities for the foreseeable future: 

1. Look after yourself and your people! Covid fatigue is beginning to show itself quite clearly, as a rising number of people have reported burn out, stress and fatigue. Your migrant employees, who are unable to plan to see their loved ones overseas, could feel an even greater level of frustration. 

2. Talent retention is especially critical at this point in time. The Government has signalled that borders will only begin to loosen in 2022. Although they have indicated that priority might be given to those holding visas for NZ - allowing many of your employees stuck overseas to return -  it is unknown when this will actually happen. 

3. Familiarise yourself with the immigration pathways available for your people in the near future. From now through 3 July 2022, the Essential Skills Work Visa reigns supreme in the employer-supported work visa space. Therefore it is crucial that HR managers are equipped to handle this category - from streamlined criteria to labour market test and the role of ANZSCO. Ensure that your migrant employees adhere to their visa conditions and proactively mitigate any risks.

4. The Other Critical Worker pathway is available to any employer who can demonstrate an urgent need to bring a specific overseas worker into NZ. The qualifying threshold remains high but success rates have gradually climbed over the last 12 months, meaning that this critical worker pathway could now be a viable option for many employers.

5. Prepare for the changes coming in 2022. Immigration NZ is going through an unprecedented reset. 2022 is lining up to be a year full of immigration policy shifts for employers and their HR teams, including mandatory employer accreditation, a new employer-led work visa, a large-scale one-off residence scheme impacting many but perhaps not all of your employees, and the gradual re-opening of borders.

Change is the only constant within the immigration space. And with changes, come questions and confusion. Considering the many important changes that will be arriving in 2022, we encourage all employers to take stock of your immigration needs now. If you’d like to learn more about these upcoming changes and what they could mean for your organisation, we encourage you to register for our upcoming employer webinar: Employer Accreditation and Accredited Employer Work Visa Updates, which will take place Wednesday 24 November. 

While we hope to see you then, it feels appropriate to leave you with a well known proverb befitting our current state of affairs -

“He aha te mea nui o te ao… he Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata”

“What is the most important thing in this world.. It’s the people, It’s the people, It’s the people”  


Arunima Dhingra, CEO Aims Global & Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser #200900407

Arunima is an established immigration adviser in New Zealand. As the Founder and Director of Aims Global, she has been providing immigration advice and support to businesses and migrants for over 15 years. In 2017 she won NZAMI’s prestigious Immigration Adviser/Lawyer of the Year Award as well as the Community Outreach Award. Arunima is now serving as a Board Director for NZAMI - NZ’s largest association of immigration advisers and lawyers - for the fifth year in a row and is Chairing the Policy Committee for the association for the third year.

Ritika Singh, Head of Corporate Division

Ritika has over a decade of sales and business development experience in a variety of sectors in NZ. A migrant herself, Ritika leads the corporate division for Aims Global Immigration, helping employers and recruiters navigate the increasingly complex world of immigration. Ritika also founded sales consulting firm, Ri-Think Ltd in 2020, specialising in B2B sales strategy and customer growth. Alongside this, Ritika is currently the co-chair and trustee of The Period Place, a trustee for Life Education Trust Rodney and a committee member for 10x10 Philanthropy Auckland. 

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