The Government has made decisions on proposals announced in April to change the settings for temporary migrant workers under the Essential Skills policy.

The Government has made decisions on proposals announced in April to change the settings for temporary migrant workers under the Essential Skills policy.

The changes will support already announced changes to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) residence policy and strike the right balance between ensuring New Zealanders are at the front of the queue for jobs and preserving access to the temporary migrant labour necessary for New Zealand’s continued economic growth.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment managed a consultation process on the Government’s proposals and a number of organisations, businesses and individuals took part in this process. This resulted in 170 unique submissions.

The main change to the proposals consulted on is the change to the mid-skilled Essential Skills remuneration threshold, which will be set at 85 per cent of the New Zealand median income (currently $41,538 per year).

This change recognises that these workers are filling genuine skills shortages and are likely to progress with further skills acquisition or work experience to meet the remuneration threshold required for the SMC.

The higher-skilled remuneration threshold that was also consulted on will remain the same.Other changes consulted on were also confirmed by the Government, including:

  • The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders, after which they will need to spend 12 months outside New Zealand before they can be granted an Essential Skills visa to work in another lower-skilled role, and
  • Aligning the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners with them with the new skill levels, by requiring the partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right (they will still have access to short-term visitor visas).

It is important to reiterate that employers will still be able to employ temporary migrants where they have genuine shortages and there are no New Zealanders to do the job.

The changes to the Essential Skills visa policy will come into effect on 28 August, alongside the previously announced changes to the Skilled Migrant residence category.

Other issues highlighted during consultation will also be addressed during phase two of the review of temporary migration.

These include developing a framework for further targeting of immigration settings by sectors and regions, developing proposals to incentivise and reward good employer behaviour, and ensuring that seasonal work visas reflect seasonal work.

Phase two will also address concerns raised by primary industries that the current ANZSCO lacks classifications for some jobs and therefore disadvantages workers whose occupations are classed at a lower-level by default.

Immigration New Zealand will directly contact relevant employers of migrants and provide more detailed information closer to the time of implementing the new policies.

Information and details about the implementation of these policies will continue to be added to the Immigration New Zealand website at the following link www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/changes-temporary-migrant-work-settings.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would like to thank you for your ongoing engagement in this process.

(Source: MBIE)

 

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