Laurent Lore
July 2022
From 1 August 2022 the New Zealand border reopens completely. Anybody from overseas can apply for a visa the way they used to. Things will be back to normal.

Well, not quite. Much has changed in the immigration space in the last 2 years:

  • Most Work Visa categories have been replaced by the new Accredited Employer policy;
  • Draws from the Skilled Migrant Residence Pool were suspended and there is no news on when they will be opened;
  • Similarly, the Parent Residence category remains in limbo;
  • The 2021 Resident Visa has nearly run its course, and there is almost nothing in place as a pathway to Residence for working migrants;
  • STOP PRESS - the Government has just announced the closure of the existing Investor category, to be replaced by a new scheme in September. Details are thin on the ground as I write.

Immigration processing times have ballooned out. Any estimate of how long it will take to get a particular case decided is guesswork, at best.

We continue to field - and answer - the difficult questions people bring us. The COVID experience has moved us into holding many client consultations by Zoom or MS Teams. The best way to arrange a meeting is to use our website's online booking system for a video call or a face-to-face meeting. Even lawyers can move with the times, as we all must.

Simon Laurent
Accredited Employer Work Visas - Where Are We At?
Companies started applying for the new form of Accreditation on 23 May. Those who got Accreditation could start putting forward empty positions for the Job Check phase from 20 June, to see if the job is suitable for a migrant (that is, no NZers available). And visa applicants could start trying for Work Visas for the approved jobs from 4 July.

Trouble is, we do not know how many employers yet have Accreditation. We do not know how many of those businesses (if any) have got their positions through the Job Check stage. It seems unlikely that anyone can actually apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa yet.

The focus right now needs to be on getting employers and jobs lined up so that people can apply for visas. There are so many stories of businesses crying out for staff that there is no need to quote them.

The initial Accreditation application appears to be fairly simple. What we are warning owners and managers, though, is that the real test for them will come when they apply to renew their Accreditation ticket next year. A blog I wrote back in April gives some details about the expectations being placed on employers. While it is easy enough now to get through by making a declaration like, "I promise to give settlement support information to my migrant staff", there will probably be dire consequences for those who don't put the pieces in place to meet those promises fairly soon.
Exceptions to Instructions
. . . or ETIs as they are called in the trade, are a useful tool in our legal arsenal. Visa officers first of all have to decide if someone meets the criteria of the visa they have applied for (say, a Student Visa). If not, then they are expected to consider whether an ETI is justified - that is, whether the rules should be bent to produce a good outcome.

Pitching an ETI to Immigration is something we do fairly often. It is more of an art than a science, to be honest. James Turner gives a real-life example, in a blog from June, how this can be done successfully.
SUCCESS STORY - From Fraud to Family Values
The Deportation Appeal for our client from Sri Lanka was challenging. He had lived in New Zealand for 15 years and has Residence. He was convicted in 2013 and 2015 of a total of 8 offences. He promised to get Resident Visas for people who gave him money, which he then simply blew at the Casino.

It took 8 years from the first set of convictions for Immigration to finally serve a Deportation Liability Notice on him. This actually worked in the appellant's favour, because it gave additional time for him, his wife and two school-age children to get more settled in NZ:

"The delay in activating the appellant’s liability for deportation has resulted in significantly more serious consequences for the children who have become established in New Zealand and now do not have a viable option to follow the appellant to Sri Lanka."

If our client was deported, his wife would not take the children to live with him, partly because of fears for their safety owing to volatile conditions in that country. Inevitably, the family would be broken up.

The Immigration & Protection Tribunal suspended liability for deportation for 3 years, on the condition that our client did not commit any other imprisonable offence of dishonesty in that time. If he comes out clean, he gets to keep his Residence.

We deal with such Appeals for Residents, for temporary visa holders and for overstayers. We don't win them all, but we have also achieved positive and life-changing outcomes in cases like this.