INZ announced proposed changes to employer-assisted temporary work visa settings, to ensure that work visas issued reflect genuine regional skill shortages. The consultation will close on 18 March 2019.


● Introduction of employer accreditation for all employers seeking to hire migrants.

● The new framework would require more administration for most employers. INZ claims that this new framework will make the overall process faster for employers who meet the required standards and will support better compliance and assurance processes.

● Replacing the current ‘Essential Skills in Demand’ Lists with ‘Regional Skills Shortage’ Lists.

● The proposed change to use ‘Regional Skills Shortage Lists’ to replace the current system (Immediate Skills Shortage List and the Long Term Skills Shortage List)

● The hourly remuneration for mid-skilled visas is proposed to be a minimum of $24.29 per hour (currently $21.25 per hour). Otherwise, the visa will be assessed as lower skilled and the applicant will be granted a one year visa only.

● The consultations also cover removal of the ‘Stand-Down Period’.

● Review of Family Visa Options, for the holders of Low Skilled Work Visas.

● Increase of threshold for Accredited Employers from $55,000 per annum to $78,000 per annum.

What can you do at this stage?

● Currently the proposals are open for consultation. After the submissions, the proposals will be reviewed. The Government is expected to make an announcement at around mid 2019. There will be some time before implementation. The changes will be probably introduced by the end of 2019.

● The applicants currently holding Temporary Visas will not be affected – Only new visa applications will be assessed under new rules.

There is no use in requesting a consultation from an Immigration Consultant at this stage, as there are no certain answers.

The visa categories to be affected by the change

Talent (Accredited Employer)

Essential Skills (including the Essential Skills in Demand Lists)


Work to Residence – Long-term Skill Shortage List Occupations

Silver Fern (Practical Experience)

Silver Fern (Job Search)

These proposals have been open for consultation

In place of all employer-specific work visa categories, a new streamlined framework will be introduced. This system is intended to be led by employers rather than by migrants. The framework includes three separate and distinct stages:

Gate 1: Assessing the Employer

Any employer wishing to hire a migrant will get to be accredited with Immigration New Zealand. The proposed accreditation categories (in addition to already existing Labour Hire Company Accreditation) are

1. Standard Accreditation (recruiting 5 or less migrants in a 12 month period), - approximate cost for the employer is $600

2. Premium Accreditation (recruiting 6 or more migrants in a 12 month period) - approximate cost for the employer is $2,000

Gate 2: Assessing the Position

Roles which will not require a Labour Market Test:

● Any role that meets the threshold of being higher-paid ($78,000 p.a. for Premium Accredited Employers (currently $55,000 p.a.) and $101,046 p.a. for Standard Accredited Employers)

● Any role that is listed on the new Regional Skills Shortage List (ANZSCO Level 1-3)

● Other roles including any role (but predominantly low-to-mid skilled ANZSCO Level 4-5, refer below) which involves a Sector Agreement – will require a labour market test dictated by the applicable Sector Agreement.

Gate 3: Assessing the Migrant

● This is likely to remain similar or same to the current requirements that applicants need to satisfy for the grant of the work visas.

● These include meeting the requirements regarding identity, health and character.

● Applicants must also demonstrate that they have the qualifications, skills and/or experience necessary to undertake the role.

Introducing Sector Agreements, which aim to address structural issues to avoid over reliance on migrant labour

These proposed negotiable sector agreements are primarily targeted at industries (such as tourism and hospitality, residential aged care, dairy farming and transportation industries) which have a large migrant workforce in mainly mid to lower skilled positions. The Government believe that these industries need to do more to employ and train young New Zealanders.

Likely effect

● With additional requirements put on the employers (especially small and medium businesses), will the employers be willing to meet these requirements? This is the most likely intention of the government (in addition to making money in the form of fee).

● Accreditation period is too short - 12 months. INZ is already taking months to assess visa applications and some of the clients and their employers have to wait for the visa, this is going to increase the processing time.

● The increase of threshold to $24.29 per hour is too high for an offer of employment to be considered as mid-skilled. In addition to this, there is regular expected increase at least annually.

● Unemployment rate in December 2018 was 4.3% (around 120,000 New Zealanders) are unemployed. The unemployment rate does not support government’s claims that migrants are displacing New Zealanders from work. 4.3% unemployment rate only suggests the number of people who are unemployed. There can be variety of reasons of them being unemployed (including criminal history, drug use, work ethics, lack of willingness to work etc.).