Laurent Lore
Corporate Edition
November 2021
Two main topics which may interest you this time:

  1. The one-time 2021 Resident Visa; and
  2. Employer Accreditation for Work Visas, coming in 2022.

We'll touch on both of these below.

In the meantime, we are pleased to announce that we have moved with the times and set up an online booking system for scheduling appointments. Check in here to find a slot for meeting by MS Teams.

Simon Laurent
Make the Most of the 2021 Resident Visa
There has already been quite a lot of publicity about this policy which was announced at the end of September. Immigration New Zealand has just produced a basic informational video which might be of some use.

We have written a couple of blogs about it which contain some general information. This includes some conclusions we have drawn about strategies which people should think about when planning to apply. We have also sent a Special 2021 Resident Visa newsletter to selected existing clients and those who have expressed interest, to provide more direct advice as it comes to hand.

People need to choose to apply under the Settled, Skilled or Scarce criteria in the policy. The Settled rule is very simple, in that someone only needs to show that they have been in New Zealand for a majority of the time since 29 September 2018 in order to qualify. They still need to hold one of the eligible Work Visas (e.g., Essential Skills or Post-Study, but not Partnership). If they meet that time-in-NZ test, then they should choose the Settled route because there is potential for Immigration to identify difficulties in them proving that they qualify under the Skilled or Scarce rules.

One advantage we can offer to those businesses, or staff members, who want help is that we have networked firm RealMe accounts which enable us to apply on behalf of our clients. This saves them the headache of having to set up their own RealMe ID, as well as knowing the tricks of navigating the online application system being used for the 2021 Resident Visa.

Residence applications for the first phase of this policy can be made from 1 December 2021. Some estimate that 10 - 15,000 people will be applying for that one, which will probably break MBIE's IT system if they all do it at once. We're not rushing to file when the gates open, but we are lining up the necessary documents and information to that we can lodge applications cleanly and efficiently shortly thereafter.
Employer Accreditation - Moving On
The Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme (AEWV) is finally going to happen after a lot of talk, and delays, over the last few years.

We now have definite timeframes:

  • 5 May 2022: employers can apply to be accredited on an online system which is yet to be rolled out;
  • 3 July 2022: last day to apply for visas under the job-based categories which are to be replaced, including Essential Skills;
  • 4 July 2022: Work Visa applications can be filed.

A key issue is whether employers can be accredited in time to be able to support Work Visa applications on 4 July. It is estimated that about 20,000 firms might apply for accreditation, and INZ has a 2-month window to process them.

We have to be sceptical that they can deliver on this sort of challenge, even if Immigration keeps its word about making accreditation a fairly cookie-cutter exercise. For example, businesses must still be scrutinised to see if they are commercially viable and can pay salaries.

Details of fees to be charged and the specific visa Instructions (policy) will only be released sometime into 2022, perhaps in February. There is thus only a certain amount we can say for certain about what will be required from employers. There is also the very real question of whether companies should go for Standard (5 migrant workers or less) or High Volume Accreditation. The High Volume route is more onerous, including a requirement to pay workers at least 10% above the minimum wage or be under a collective agreement, and to show a commitment to training New Zealanders.

As time goes on we will pass on what we know. This may be via this Newsletter, but you might also want to subscribe to our blog where we can give some more immediate feedback.
Intra-Corporate Transfers - Some Hope
In our last newsletter my advice about doing Specific Purpose Work Visas to transfer key staff into New Zealand was "don't bother". Right now, that's still the case.

Still, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Be warned, though, that the recent news about relaxing MIQ restrictions for foreign travellers in the first half of 2022 does NOT equate to a relaxation of border entry restrictions. Managed isolation is governed by the all-of-government COVID-19 Response. The ability of non-New Zealanders to enter is run by Immigration New Zealand.

However, it is a sign of the Government's stated intention to open the country back up to foreign travel next year. Although it is difficult to predict, it may be reasonable to conclude that fully-vaccinated personnel from countries that are not high-risk may be able to apply for visas to enter by around mid-2022, without having to prove that they are a "critical worker" in order to do so.

If this is something that your firm wants to progress in a few months, put it in your diary to contact us early in 2022 to see where things stand.