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Why you need to have an immigration partner?

08 July 2021

Immigration in New Zealand is changing quite rapidly. What was in effect yesterday, is no longer valid today. And rules today, cease to exist tomorrow! This is one of the most turbulent time periods we have ever encountered in the immigration landscape. 

With a flurry of changes coming through thick and fast – and most of them surrounding NZ businesses, one has to be cautious. If you don’t keep on top of changes, there can be wide ranging ramifications on business operations and your people strategy. And this is where a good immigration partner comes in. They can offer cost advantage as you can outsource this function to work closely with the key in-house personnel, de-risk your HR teams from giving unlawful immigration advice and protect migrant employees from making visa-related mistakes.

A case study:

We have been meeting with employers across the country who have a number of migrant workers on visas. A client (an IT firm) we met last week had more than 30 people on a range of work visas – Essential Skills, Talent and Open Work visas. Some were on the most recent median wage of $25.50/hour, while others are on slightly higher rate meeting the soon-to-be-effective threshold of $27/hour and there were some in the middle.

While we had originally gone to them to discuss these visa holders and their expiry dates, our conversation quickly transformed from these individual discussions to the new accreditation scheme and the wider financial impact on the business from changing immigration policies. At this point, it was evident that the business leaders were overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information they needed to understand to be able to make sound business decisions around their migrant workforce.

We started unpacking these concepts and our team of Licensed Immigration Advisers advised the client on a spectrum of policies. But there was no denying that the detail involved added an immense amount of pressure on their internal HR teams due to increased workload.

It didn’t take long for all parties to conclude that bringing us in as their immigration partners (one that can act as a supplementary arm to their business) was the best way to move forward. This gave them the assurance that their migrant workforce will remain compliant with all immigration policies and also avert any potential risks for them as a business brought about by sudden policy changes. The amount of time HR would spend on combing through the myriad of policy details and not being able to do their core role, it was more cost effective to simply pass this function along to us. They would in turn receive quality, updated advice aimed to insulate the business from risks created from changing visa rules.

Immigration Partnership:

The above case study is just one of the examples to validate the need for companies to have robust immigration partners, like an extended arm to the business. This is even more important now than before as we transition through the immigration ‘reset’ process in New Zealand. Further, the entire immigration system is moving to be an ‘employer-led system’ from 1st November 2021. This means the client is not the main ‘customer’ for INZ anymore, it’s the employer. An employer-led model implies that as a HR support person or recruiter or business owner, you are now at the start of this process and drive the other two gateways – job check and migrant check, which can only be done if the employer has first been granted accreditation. Each of these gateways (stages) having its own specific type of impact on businesses. 

No matter who you go with, an individual Licensed Immigration Adviser (LIA), an immigration lawyer or a full-service immigration firm such as ours, having an immigration partner moving forward is imperative. Ongoing advice, support and consultation are so critically important in a labour market where supply of international talent has been cut off and drain of talent from NZ to Australia is growing. The need to hold onto your staff with both hands, in short term and long term, has to build as a key focus area in business planning.

We see an immigration partner supporting you in three areas:

1. Employer Accreditation:

There are 2 types of accreditations – Standard and High Volume. You will be required to choose which one to apply under. The situation is complicated further for Labour Hire companies and Franchisees. Accreditation also has to be renewed every 2 years, except for Labour Hire and franchisees who must renew every 12 months. At first, it is granted for 12 months, and then renewal needs to be applied for every 24 month cycle. Renewal applications are expected to be (and logically so) an extension of the application submitted prior. An Immigration Partner will help you work through these options, pros and cons of each, recommend most suitable pathway based on your recruitment forecast and existing business constraints, and recommend ways to plan company resources effectively for every accreditation anniversary cycle.

2. Continuity of Advice to Visa Support:

In the new system, employers lead the process. When you get to the Job Check (second gate), it’s important to get the information right and this be consistent with any narrative or information about the business INZ already holds. Only once you get through the job check, does the applicant apply for the ‘Accredited Employer Work Visa’ through the third and final gate - worker check. Continuity of advice through the 3 staged process is important to ensure consistency and credibility. Note here that INZ establishes a profile for the business through open searches + information submitted to them through applications.  So mismatch in information must be avoided at all costs.

 3. Tailored Advice:

Different organisations have different immigration support needs, ranging from employee questions to advocacy on their behalf. Whether it is recruitment, IT, Construction, Infrastructure, Hospitality or an employer in another industry, there is an obvious need for robust and streamlined advice on how to navigate this new world of immigration. Having an immigration partner who is just a phone call or email away ensures you receive prompt advice and have a team of experts to rely on.

Engaging Aims Global Immigration as your immigration partner means you get regular monthly updates on the many policy announcements – but in simple words and in the context of relevance to you. Most importantly you also get the support of a dedicated account management team. Furthermore, time to time we present our clients with opportunities to meet and hear from industry experts and immigration representatives at events - such as our upcoming panel sessions in Wellington on 10th August 2021. 

We see the coming 12 months herald the largest set of changes within immigration in NZ and we are here to help you keep sane through it, and not take the focus off your business goals!      

- Ritika Singh (Corporate Head)

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