One employment lawyer claims Mr Guy's well-intentioned efforts could actually hinder the Christchurch rebuild operation.
28 January 2013
New Zealand visa rule introduced to help Christchurch rebuild
New Zealand Immigration Minister Nathan Guy has announced the introduction of a new category of New Zealand visa specifically designed to help employers find the staff needed for the Christchurch rebuild operation.
Large portions of New Zealand's second biggest city remain in ruins after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake which rocked the region in February, 2011. The mass exodus of residents in the wake of the quake meant that the region has struggled to find the necessary manpower to repair the city.
Many employers have called on the national government to allow more overseas workers to legally work in the region but some have warned against unscrupulous employers taking advantage of foreign workers in the midst of high employment demands, paying them below average wages and neglecting local labour sources.
However, Mr Guy has introduced a new visa condition which he says will ensure that both local workers can find work and employers can hire from overseas where necessary.
"The new rule means visa applications to fill most jobs in Canterbury won't be processed until a check has been done to ensure there are no suitable new Zealanders to fill the vacancy," said Mr Guy.
"The rule also benefits employers because it streamlines the visa process. Employers will know sooner if a visa application for a migrant worker is likely to succeed."
The new condition, which will being affecting applications from today, requires employers in trade, clerical and manual occupations to advertise for local labour on the Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub before they are eligible to sponsor migrant workers' visa applications.
"If there are suitable New Zealanders available to do the job, the Skills Hub will confirm this in a letter that can be sent to Immigration New Zealand along with a visa application for a migrant to be considered to fill the vacancy," added the minister.
"The letter means Immigration New Zealand will no longer perform a labour market check - including a referral to Work and Income - as this job will already have been performed by the Skills Hub.
"This will speed up the visa processing time for employers and help towards the rebuild effort."
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.