18 July 2008

New temporary work policy for overseas workers in NZ

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Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has reformed its work policy for overseas workers. The new Essential Skills work policy encourages more highly skilled workers to migrate to the country, while protecting lower-skilled workers already residing in New Zealand from losing their job opportunities to overseas workers.

As of 28 July, the new Essential Skills work policy will replace the General work policy for skilled migration to New Zealand.  Under the new policy, occupations will now be differentiated on the basis of the skill level required.  There will be two specific skill levels which occupations will be listed; highly skilled and lower skilled.  Within these two broad skill levels, there will be five more tiers of skill level, with skill level one being the highest.

Under the old General work policy, skilled migrants have to apply for a permanent Residency Visa or a temporary Residence Permit (which can become a permanent residency visa on application at a later date). 

Changes to the work policy now mean level one skilled migrants applying for jobs earning over NZD$55,000 will not have to apply for a Residency Visa.  Instead, the Immigration Department will offer a five year temporary New Zealand work permit, and an opportunity to apply for multiple three-year extensions at the end of the five years. 

INZ will now also work closely with Work and Income to ensure overseas lower-skilled workers are not taking jobs from unemployed New Zealanders.  Each application for a lower-skilled worker’s visa will be checked with Work and Income to see if there are unemployed New Zealanders who are able to fill the position first, unless the INZ have already been informed about industry-specific labour shortages.

The process will remain the same for applicants and employers looking for workers to immigrate to New Zealand, but INZ will be treating applications for work permits in the higher-skilled and lower-skilled occupational categories differently. 

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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