• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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New Zealand cracks down on work visas with 5 key changes, effective immediately

New Zealand cracks down on work visas with 5 key changes, effective immediately

Erica Stanford New Zealand’s Immigration Minister has swiftly modified the Accredited Employer Worker Visa (AEWV) scheme to match economic demands and prevent migrant exploitation.

“Getting our immigration settings right is critical to this Government’s plan to rebuild the economy,” she said.

“The Government is focused on attracting and retaining the highly skilled migrants such as secondary teachers, where there is a skill shortage. At the same time we need to ensure that New Zealanders are put to the front of the line for jobs where there are no skills shortages,” Erica added.

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Migration statistics highlighted the importance of these changes in 2023, as almost 173,000 non-New Zealand citizens arrived in the country, approaching a historical peak.

The proposed adjustments aim to improve the AEWV scheme by more effectively evaluating the local labor market and reducing the displacement of New Zealand workers.

Stanford clarified that many of these changes are not new, but rather a return to pre-pandemic standards that balance business requirements with national interests.

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“I am bringing in a suite of changes that will improve the AEWV scheme and ensure we are better testing the local labour market and reducing the risks of putting New Zealanders out of work. Many of these are not new, but rather a return to pre-pandemic settings that better balanced the needs of business with the wider interests of New Zealand,” she said.

5 Key changes include

  • The introduction of English language requirements for migrants applying for low-skilled roles at levels 4 and 5
  • A minimum skills and work experience criteria
  • Employers seeking to fill level 4 and 5 positions must engage with Work and Income before migrant approvals
  • The maximum continuous stay for such roles will be reduced from 5 to 3 years
  • The franchisee accreditation category will also be disbanded, and businesses will need to follow standard, high-volume, or triangular employment accreditation processes to hire overseas workers.

These modifications seek to strengthen the scheme’s integrity and combat migrant exploitation, aligning with recommendations from the recent Bestwick review, which identified systemic issues within AEWV procedures.

“By having an English language requirement migrants will be better able to understand their rights or raise concerns about an employer early,” Stanford explained.

Furthermore, the government has postponed plans to include 11 occupations, including welders and fitters, on the Green List. The Work to Residence pathway for bus and truck drivers will also no longer accept new applicants, reflecting resolved shortages in the field.

Stanford presented these adjustments as the first stages of a comprehensive plan to streamline the immigration system, focusing on managing net migration, attracting talent, ensuring sustainable funding, and enhancing risk management.