INZ planning a number of visa changes from now until 2021

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Immigration New Zealand is making many changes to their immigration program from now until 2021. The first of the changes are coming into effect in a couple of days on 7 October.

The rest of the changes are planned for 2020 and 2021. We’re going to detail these changes below.

Changes in 2020

There are two changes coming in 2020:

  • Family visas for low-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa holders.
  • Determining if a job is low-skilled or high-skilled.

Family visas for low-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa holders

From mid-2020, Essential Skills Work Visa holders on low-skilled jobs will be able to support family visas. Their partners and children younger than school age will be able to apply for visitor visas for the duration of the work visa. School-going children will be able to apply for student visas.

Determining if a job is low-skilled or high-skilled

Immigration New Zealand is going to change how it’s decided if a job is low-skilled or high-skilled. Currently, jobs under the Essential Skills Work visa are assigned a skill band based on a combination of the pay and the categorisation of the job on ANZSCO.

From mid-2020, INZ will not use ANZSCO and instead use only the rate of pay. High-paid jobs will be defined as jobs that pay at or above the median wage, while low-paid jobs will be jobs that pay below the median wage.

High-paid jobs will receive the same benefits as jobs that are currently categorized as mid-skilled or high-skilled, and low-paid jobs will be treated the same as low-skilled jobs.

Changes in 2021

There is one big change coming in 2021:

New temporary work visa will replace 6 existing visas

From 2021, a new temporary work visa will replace six existing visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa

If you already hold a visa that is being replaced, it will remain valid until it expires. If you’d like to continue working for your current employer after your visa expires, you’ll have to apply for the new temporary work visa or another visa you qualify for.

Please note that if you already hold a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa or a Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa, you can still apply for residence based on your current work visa.

There are also changes for employers. You can read more about these here.

Some policies are staying in place

Amidst all of the change, some things will remain the same:

  • People who hold visas based on lower-skilled work will still have to leave New Zealand for a 1-year stand-down period after they have been working for 3 years.
  • The new visa will still have conditions specifying an employer, job and location, and a visa holder will still have to get a variation of conditions to change any of these.
  • INZ will still need to be satisfied that there are no New Zealanders available for a job before they grant a visa — in most cases, through the labour market test.

Keeping up to date with the changes

INZ has said that they are still working on how to implement some of the changes. As more details are finalised, we’ll update you right here on our blog. To stay up to date, sign up to our newsletter (it’s free!) or follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn where we post news as it happens.

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