Laurent Lore
Corporate Edition
April 2023
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People on both sides of the desk are settling into the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme, which now dominates the employer-assisted visa space. Processing times have improved, and technical issues with the Enhanced Immigration Online portal are being ironed out.

Every few days, new visa Instructions are released as the Government continues to tweak its settings. The latest example is the addition of 32 occupations to the Green List, which aims to encourage people with certain skills to come here with the prospect of applying promptly for Residence. While the added jobs are mainly in the health sector, continued industry pressure will hopefully see more jobs added in order to stop the ebb of talent in this country.

Simon Laurent
Think About Pathways to Residence
Many migrants who apply to work in New Zealand want more than just a job. They want a way to settle with their families; in short, to get Residence.

Avenues for getting Residence are more limited than before. The old Skilled Migrant category, once the mainstay of the Residence programme, was put out of reach of a lot of qualified people when the points threshold was increased from 160 to 180 points in November 2022. A new scheme is in the works, but no indication yet of when it will see the light of day.

This leaves three Skilled Residence strands to consider:

Straight to Residence: immediately available for those who have a job offer in Tier 1 of the Green List of occupations. The job must be with an Accredited Employer, which means in most cases that the applicant will already have, or be applying for, a Work Visa with the company's support;
Work to Residence: for those on an Accredited Employer Work Visa ("AEWV") or a Work Visa under one of the old categories, whose job is on Tier 2 of the Green List. This is quite a short set of occupations, including some medical and trades roles. However, you cannot apply unless you have already been on a Work Visa for your current role for at least 2 years since 29 September 2021. This means that no-one can apply until at least September 2023;
Highly Paid: Again, this is for those already on an AEWV and who have been paid at least twice the median wage, while on a Work Visa, for at least 24 out of the 30 months immediately before they apply for Residence, starting 29 September 2021. That is, they need to show their pay history, and will fail if they dip below that income threshold. As the median wage has increased 3 times since September 2021, working out if someone qualifies may not be a trivial task in marginal cases.

Important for some is the age cut-off. While there is no age limit on those getting AEWVs, you can only apply for Residence if you are 55 years old or younger. We have had some success in requesting a waiver of this rule through a Ministerial decision, but each case depends on its own circumstances.
Things to Look Out For
While it may seem obvious, a key choke point in hiring migrant workers is the fact that, once an employer obtains a Job Check, it is only valid for 6 months. This means that the employer really needs to have job candidates in the pipeline who can apply for the associated Work Visas very soon after the Job Check is approved. Leave it too long, and the Job Check process has to be repeated and paid for.

What also follows is that it is unwise to apply for a Job Check too soon before the business is ready to take on migrant staff. For a lot of companies this will not be an issue, considering the desperate labour shortages we face across the board. Still, as mentioned in our previous newsletter, forward planning is important here.

Most migrants applying for a Work Visa will need an Immigration Medical if they have not already done one in the last 3 years. They should not book an e-Medical with one of the Panel Physicians until after the Work Visa application has been filed. If they try to get an e-Medical beforehand, it will be given an "NZHR" number which does not match that automatically assigned to their Work Visa application by the Immigration Health system. Trying to get these matched up afterwards has caused considerable processing delays.
SUCCESS STORY - Drink Driving No Bar to Residence
Because we specialise in problem-solving, we frequently encounter cases where a visa applicant has to overcome a criminal offence. Often it is from being caught drinking and driving

Recently, Sahar Shamia helped a client who had got not one, but two drink-driving convictions. He needed a positive Character Waiver assessment with our help, and now holds a Resident Visa after a saga spanning nearly 2 years.

Read about this in our latest blog.