Immigration news: June 2021

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Immigration New Zealand is continuously amending their visa regulations to help the country bounce back from the economic effects of COVID-19. This month’s changes affect Essential Skill visa holders, dairy farm workers and three short-term work visas.

Changes to Essential Skills visa

Immigration New Zealand has announced three changes to the Essential Skills visa category:

  1. INZ has increased the duration of new Essential Skills visas for those who are paid below the median wage from 6 months to 12 months. This change applies to all Essential Skills visas granted on or after 10 June 2021.
  2. From 19 July, Essential Skills visa applications will be assessed using the median hourly wage of NZ$27, in line with the 2020 Statistics New Zealand median wage. This is an annual adjustment, and it’s an increase from the current rate of NZ$25.50.
  3. The stand-down period for Essential Skills visa holders who are paid below the median wage will be further postponed until July 2022. This stand-down period requires visa holders to leave New Zealand for 12 months after three years before applying for another lower-paid Essential Skills visa.

Border exception for dairy farm workers

Immigration New Zealand is introducing a border exception for three groups of dairy farm workers:

  • Dairy herd managers (up to 150)
  • Dairy farm workers (up to 50)
  • Veterinarians (up to 50)

INZ is still finalising the details but it has committed to providing details as soon as its confirmed.

Extensions for three short-term work visas

INZ has extended the validity of Working Holiday visas and Supplementary Seasonal Employer work visas. INZ is also granting Pacific Recognised Seasonal Employer workers longer stays.

Working Holiday visas

Working Holiday visas that are expiring between 21 June 2021 and 31 December 2021 have been extended a further six months. To qualify for the extension, visa holders must have been in New Zealand on 14 June 2021.

This extension is already legally in effect, and INZ will update visa records in July. Visa holders can use the confirmation email from INZ as proof of their right to work when engaging with prospective employers.

Supplementary Seasonal Employer (SSE) work visas

Supplementary Seasonal Employer (SSE) work visas expiring between 30 June 2021 and 31 December 2021 have been extended for six months.

The extended SSE visas now have open work rights allowing them to work in any sector.
Immigration New Zealand will contact visa holders to confirm their extension. The visa extensions are however already legally in effect, and INZ will update visa records in July.

Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visa

If you are a Pacific RSE worker who came to New Zealand through the border exception you can apply for a new visa and will be able to stay beyond the normal maximum period.

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