A Christmas Present from the Minister for Immigration
A Christmas Present from the Minister for Immigration
21 December 2020
Workers on employer assisted work visas have received an early Christmas Present from the Minister for Immigration Kris Faafoi with a six-month visa extension, the stand down period being suspended, the median wage kept at $25.50 per hour and working holiday visas extended.
6 Month Extension
As part of a package announced on 20 December 2020. Workers holding Essential Skills Work Visas and Work to Residence Visas based whose visas were due to expire between January 2021 and June 2021 will now have their visas extended for six months. This applies to their partners and dependent children as well.
This will be a massive relief to existing visa holders. It also reflects the better than expected conditions in the New Zealand Labour Market. With the Minister acknowledging:
“Our economy is bouncing back better than expected and we are seeing labour shortages across many industries,” Kris Faafoi said.
“With the labour market outlook being more optimistic, we are implementing a range of changes to ensure the migrant workforce already in New Zealand can supplement employers’ efforts to recruit New Zealanders who have lost jobs due to COVID.
Stand down period postponed until 2022
Another thing announced is that the Stand-Down period for low-skilled workers will be postponed until January 2022. Those Essential Skills Work Visa holders who earn less than $25.50 per hour must leave NZ for 12 months having worked here for 3 years before they are eligible to return.
This stand down period will not apply in 2021 – meaning those classed as low-skilled workers will be given the opportunity to apply for a new work visa without having to serve a 12 month stand down period.
INZ to use $25.50 as median wage
The median wage for the purposes of Essential Skills Work Visas will remain at $25.50 per hour until at least July 2021. Then it is expected to rise to $27 per hour.
This will provide certainty to current visa holders and those expecting to apply for a new work visa before July 2021.
Working Holiday Visas extended
Working Holiday Visas to be extended by a further six months with restrictions relaxed on the maximum duration of work and allowing visa holders to work in any industry they choose. Working Holiday makers will no longer be transferred onto a Supplementary Seasonal Employer work visa when their working holiday visa expires. Migrants already on an SSE visa will be able to continue working for the horticulture and wine sectors, or apply for an Essential Skills visa if they find alternative qualifying work.
In other news
- Processing of Offshore Temporary Visas remain suspended until May 2021
Most offshore temporary visas will not be processed by Immigration New Zealand until at least May 2021. This is a continuation of Immigration New Zealand’s policy announced in August 2020.
It remains the case that for the foreseeable future – border restrictions will remain in place. Given that likelihood – most visitor visa applications from off-shore along with most work visa applications from off-shore will not be processed. This will be reviewed by Immigration New Zealand on a monthly basis.
- PPI Response Dates Updated
Deadlines for information requests or letters identifying potentially prejudicial information (PPI) issued on or after Monday 7 December 2020 has been extended to 20 working days.
For example, a PPI letter issued on 9 December 2020 will have a response date of 12 January 2021. Normal response timeframes (5 working days) will resume from Monday 11 January 2021.
If you have received a PPI Letter, please contact Idesi Legal Limited for assistance.
3. New Health Condition on existing visas
The Minister of Immigration has added a new condition to temporary entry class visas granted on or before 18 March 2020.
As the holder of a temporary entry class visa in New Zealand, it is now a condition of your visa that you follow COVID-19 rules. If you break these rules your immigration status may be at risk.
This means that for example if you fail to self-isolate, don’t abide by social distancing, lockdown conditions etc your Immigration Status may be at risk.
4. A Lump of Coal – Reconsideration Requests
Unfortunately along with the good news there is a lump of coal in the Christmas stocking for some with Immigration New Zealand remaining inflexible with Reconsideration requests for declined visas. The strict 14 day deadline to submit a reconsideration (beginning from the date a decline is received) is to remain in place over the holiday period.
For example, someone who received a decline letter on 24 December 2020 will need to submit a request for a Reconsideration by 07 January 2021. This will hamper the ability for this person to obtain documents such as employment records, bank statements and other information from bodies closed over the Christmas Holiday period – making it harder for them to put a case together.
The inflexibility in timeline is one of the many parts of the Reconsideration of a declined work visa which needs closer scrutiny. Hopefully this broken system is fixed in 2021.
If your visa is declined over the Christmas, New Year Period– please contact Idesi Legal Limited immediately as there may be a very short window with which to lodge a reconsideration request.
I have a different work visa, what does this mean for me?
Not all work visas have been extended. Partnership Work Visas, Post Study Work Visas, Refugee Work Visas and most other open work visas have not been extended. Please consult Idesi Legal Limited.