INZ Plans To Double The Cost Of Work Visas

INZ Plans To Double The Cost Of Work Visas 

Immigration New Zealand’s plan to more than double the cost of work visas to help close a growing $43 million deficit has employers worried.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s consultation on a plan to stem its deficit closed on Sunday.

Hospitality industry organisations opposed the proposed changes in their submissions supplied to RNZ, and expressed concern over the government department’s ability to manage costs effectively.

Hospitality NZ’s submission said the industry needed 10,000 more restaurant and cafe staff over the next two years and there were not enough New Zealanders with necessary skills to take up the roles.

It said the ministry’s plan to increase work visa fees by 54 percent could deter migrant workers from coming to New Zealand.

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said almost all of its 2000 members opposed the increase.

“Most believe that this would intensify and increase the pressure on an already challenging work recruitment market for our industry. The majority of our members as well believe that an increase in fees would act as a deterrent for prospective migrant workers coming to New Zealand.”

An unprecedented shortfall

The plan to increase visa fees comes as Immigration NZ’s accounts show an unprecedented deficit of $43m.

Immigration NZ is a mostly user-pays system, but lost $20m from work visas alone last year, suggesting the price paid for them no longer covered the cost of processing them.

In a Cabinet paper, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said an increase in migrant trafficking and exploitation was to blame for increasing visa processing costs. Checks were becoming more rigourous, therefore taking longer.

Immigration NZ’s memorandum account was set for the $43m deficit by the end of the 2017 financial year.

That was despite investing $140m in technology to move visa processing online.

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