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Starting 2021 with New Immigration Updates

15 January 2021

2021 carries on the legacy of policy changes due to Covid19.

In view of the challenges posed by the ongoing border restrictions, some new immigration changes were announced by the Government just before the Christmas and New Year holiday closure. These policy changes provide further relief for many New Zealand employers and migrants in 2021.

1. Six month auto extensions for employer-assisted work visas (some exclusions apply) for visas expiring between 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021 (inclusive). These include all Essential Skills and Work to Residence visas. Visas held by their partners and dependent children will also be extended.

2. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will use the 2019 median wage of $25.50/hour for another 6 months, until July 2021. After this, the median wage will rise to $27/hour. This eases the pressure on employers for another few months before the changes need to be implemented.

3. The stand-down period, during which low-paid/low-skill Essential Skills work visa holders are required to leave New Zealand, will be postponed until January 2022. In saying that, they will need to remain on a valid temporary visa after their current low-paid/low-skill Essential Skills work visa expires to avoid staying unlawfully in New Zealand. The stand-down period means that those earning below the median wage (currently $25.50/hour) must leave New Zealand for 12 months after having worked here for three years before they can return (Essential Skill category only).

4. Working Holiday visa expiring between 21 December 2020 to 30 June 2021 (inclusive) also have been auto extended by 6 months and work restrictions relaxed. These visa holders can continue to work in any industry they choose (including horticulture and wine sector roles).

5. Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) Work Visa holders will be able to work in seasonal horticulture and viticulture roles where there are not enough New Zealanders available to do this work. Employers must have an approved SSE status.

6. Approval for 1000 international tertiary students (degree and postgraduate) stuck offshore to return to New Zealand has been granted, starting April 2021.

Notwithstanding these new announcements, employers should not lose sight of the mandatory employer accreditation policy that kicks in mid-2022 (updated 14/9/2021). This will tie in with the median wage increase and hence the time for visa submissions is critical, so your migrant employees don’t get caught out by these amendments. At Aims Global, we are currently working with our employer partners to manage the visa timelines for their foreign workers to ensure a smooth transition to new applications.

If you would like to better understand how the above could impact you,
reach out to us for a complimentary consultation.

Immigration simplified

Providing professional immigration advice and support for over 15 years. Aims Global is an agile team of licensed immigration advisers and experts who are skilled advocates for our clients and are always at the forefront of policy changes.

Our mission is to help our clients achieve their goals through simplifying the complex immigration process. We are experts in understanding your needs so we can fulfil your purpose, whether you’re an employer, employee, student, or family.

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