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Is Pathways available to assist me with my visa queries during the lockdown?

Although our physical offices are now closed we remain open for business and 100% committed to our clients and anyone who requires visa assistance at this time. We are pleased to confirm Pathways has the technology in place for all our Licensed Immigration Advisers to work from home and we are now doing so – and if you continue to telephone and email as normal you will not notice any difference in our availability and in our ability to receive and respond promptly to any of your communications.

Is INZ still accepting and processing visa applications?

INZ is still very much open for business however their staff too are also affected by the lockdown which means that they are working with a greatly reduced capacity at the moment. Applications can still be made through the online visa platform and processing will be prioritised based on urgency and applicant profile – as this may relate to an essential service role. Visa applications for essential workers who are urgently required to support the fight against Covid-19 are given highest priority and Section 61 requests for those who have become unlawful are also being given priority. Other applications will be queued in the order received so there is a benefit to still making a visa application now to ensure a place in the queue for when normal processing resumes.

My visa application has already been lodged with INZ. Will be application continue to be processed?

The INZ Branches have closed and any paper-based applications, such as Skilled Migrant residence, are not able to be progressed further until the Branches re-open. However some INZ staff are able to work from home and are able to continue to process online visa applications such as temporary visa and partnership residence applications.

My visa has expired and I am now unlawful, what should I do?

If you are unlawful you should urgently seek advice on submitting a Section 61 request to regain your lawful status. INZ have stated that priority is being given to Section 61 requests at this time. For anyone who is unlawful it is always in their interests to make every endeavour to recover their lawful status sooner rather than later.

I am a New Zealand resident and I received a deportation liability notice, what should I do?

If you have received a deportation liability notice from Immigration New Zealand you should urgently seek professional advice.

If your deportation liability has been previously suspended you do not need to do anything further, you will need to ensure to comply with the suspension terms stated in the notice.  If your deportation liability is not suspended then you have 28 calendar days to submit an appeal to the IPT against deportation liability. There is no extension on the timeframe to appeal regardless of the lockdown, if the appeal opportunity lapses then you will be deported.

If you have received a letter from INZ resolutions with a questionnaire you are strongly recommended to write to them requesting an extension until 2 weeks after lockdown ends, and strongly encouraged to seek specialised professional advice.

I am a temporary visa holder and I received a deportation liability notice, what should I do?

It is our strongest recommendation that anyone facing deportation liability has a specialised adviser or lawyer represent them as there are very serious consequences if deportation proceeds, and these are very complex matters.

There are no options for extension of any of the timeframes provided for response and appeal.  You will have 14 calendar days to give good reasons to INZ compliance to consider cancelling your deportation liability, and 28 calendar days for appeal.  The appeal timeframe is not paused while waiting on INZ compliance to make a decision. There is no extension on the timeframe to appeal regardless of the lockdown, if the appeal opportunity lapses then you will be deported.

My resident visa application was declined and I want to appeal, what should I do?

The 42 day deadline begins from when the decision is received.  There are no options for extension of any of the timeframes provided to appeal regardless of the lockdown, if the appeal opportunity lapses then there is no way to later recover this.

Here at Pathways our team includes specialised advisers who work on these matters and who are available to assist you.

Will my appeal still be considered in the lockdown?

Most appeal considerations are on hold during lockdown and will continue afterwards.  There are limited exceptions with some oral hearings which the IPT has contacted directly and these are being directed by the IPT on a case by case basis – if you have no such contact from the IPT then this will not apply to you.

Will my appeal be decided in lockdown?

Most appeal considerations are on hold during lockdown and will continue afterwards.  There are limited exceptions with some oral hearings which the IPT has contacted directly and these are being directed by the IPT on a case by case basis – if you have no such contact from the IPT then this will not apply to you.

My temporary (work, student, visitor, limited) visa expires before 2 April, what do I do?

You must urgently submit a new visa application online for the appropriate visa to suit your circumstances. In most cases this will be to submit a new application of the same visa type as your current visa. While your new visa may not be immediately processed you will be issued an interim visa to maintain your lawful status through until when your new visa application is decided. Our view is that INZ are very likely to be sympathetic to the situation of all visa holders in New Zealand due to the current travel restrictions.

My temporary (work, student, visitor, limited) visa expires between 2 April and 9 July, what do I do?

Your visa will be automatically extended to 25 September 2020 on the same conditions as your current visa and you are not required to undertake any action. Confirmation of the visa extension will be emailed to you by INZ and you should follow up with INZ if you do not get this email before your visa expires.

I want to apply for a longer term visa beyond 25 September what can I do?

INZ’s online application system is still operational and new applications can still be submitted. The processing timeframes maybe longer than usual as priority is being given to applications for “essential workers” and Section 61 requests.

I need to vary the conditions of my visa (such as to change employers) – what can I do?

A VOC application is usually a hard copy application and cannot be submitted during the lockdown period. INZ are currently working on a process to facilitate these applications to be made online or by email. We will update this page as soon as this process is announced.

I have a work visa and are either working less than, or being paid for less than, 30 hours a week which is the minimum requirement of my visa – will this be a problem for me?

Usually the requirement would be for you to work, and to be paid for, the work hours set out in your employment agreement but given the unprecedented circumstances, and the government enforced restrictions, our view is that it would be unfair and unreasonable for this situation to be held against you and recommend no action is required at this time but to review this situation every few weeks.

I am a work visa holder and lost my job, what should I do?

Under normal circumstances you and or your employer would be required to inform INZ about this change in circumstance. However these are far from normal circumstances and we believe the government and INZ will be working on interim measures and processes that will be applied to this, and similar situations, to ensure visa holders are not unfairly compromised by something which is completely outside of their, and their employers, control. We recommend no action at this time except to regularly check back to our website or the INZ website for further updates for updates. In the meantime you could seek alternative employment and be prepared to make a new work visa or variation of conditions application.

We understand the government is considering the possibility of allowing work visa holders who have lost their jobs (& possibly other visa holders) flexibility so that they can work in much needed horticultural roles. An announcement may be made soon – please watch this website or the INZ website for any changes.

I have submitted a skilled migrant residence application – will this still be processed during the lockdown?

We are aware that some Immigration Officers are  able to work from home such as those undertaking certain online applications such as partnership applications and which do not require hard copy paper documents. As SMC applications are paper based these applications and supporting documentation must remain at the INZ offices. Consequently we understand that SMC applications, and other paper-based applications such as Investor, Entrepreneur, Parent Retirement, PRV and Variation of Conditions applications, will not be able to be progressed until the lockdown is over and all Immigration Officers have returned to work.

I was issued a Potentially Prejudicial Information (PPI) letter on an application and the deadline for response is during the lockdown, what should I do?

You should attempt to make contact with your immigration case officer to see if it is still appropriate or possible for you to provide your response or obtain an extension to the deadline. Our understanding that due to the current lockdown an extension of time for a response is likely to be granted in the interest of fairness. In some cases where the case officer is working, and you have everything required to make a response, it could be in your best interest to make the response now and receive the application decision.

I have been offered a job in an essential work role and need to change my existing visa, or apply for a new visa, before I can begin work. How can I do this?

There is the ability to escalate a work visa application for an essential skills worker. Please contact Pathways to learn about this process and requirements.

I am a work visa holder and my employer wants to know if they can obtain the Government wage subsidy for me and if this will affect my visa?

All New Zealand employers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for the Wage Subsidy. To qualify a business must:

  • be registered and operating in New Zealand
  • have employees who are legally working in New Zealand
  • have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19
  • have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
  • retain the employees named in the application for the period of the subsidy.

Those who have a New Zealand work visa or a condition on their New Zealand temporary visa that allows them to work in New Zealand, come under the definition of legally working in New Zealand.

I am a work visa holder, can my employer force me to take my leave in this time?

An employer, whether they are using the Wage Subsidy Scheme or not, cannot unlawfully compel an employee to use their leave entitlements. However, your employer may require you to take annual leave, including because of temporary workplace closure due to COVID-19, provided they have first consulted with you and provided 14 days notice before the annual leave is to be taken.

I am a work visa holder can my employer deny me my leave in this time (including sick leave if I am sick)?

Employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave, after each 12 months of continuous employment for their employer.

Employers cannot unreasonably refuse to  allow an employee to take the leave to which they are entitled. However, with regard to when you take leave, your employer may decline a request for annual leave if they are able to provide a genuine business reason for declining.

The Government is working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.

Are there any exceptions to the travel ban for people who are not New Zealand citizens or permanent residents?

INZ have announced immigration instructions to allow people not included, or excepted under the current travel ban, to be granted a visa or a Variation of Conditions to travel to New Zealand. You can request travel to New Zealand for the following reasons:

  • essential health worker
  • other essential worker
  • Tongan or Samoan national requiring essential travel to New Zealand
  • partner or dependent child of student or work visa holder
  • partner or dependent child of a New Zealand citizen or resident
  • Australian citizen or permanent resident that normally resides in New Zealand
  • humanitarian

Please contact Pathways if you would like to discuss the process and the requirements for making a travel request.

I am a healthcare worker on a temporary visa. Are there any changes I should be aware of?

INZ have communicated that Immigration Instructions will soon be issued which change temporary work visa settings to support the health sector response to managing COVID-19.

International Students currently employed in healthcare roles (including aged residential care) will now be able to work full-time for three months in order to support the public health response to COVID-19. Normally students are only permitted to work up to 20 hours/week and full-time only during holiday periods.

‘Lower skilled’ temporary healthcare workers that are currently in New Zealand can now work in New Zealand for an additional 12 months before they are subject to the stand down period.

Despite the current COVID-19 Level 4 Alert, the timeframes for lodgement of appeals to the Immigration and Protect Tribunal (IPT) have not changed. The nationwide lockdown means that though appeal deadlines remain the same, the IPT’s physical office is closed.

Appeals can be sent via email to [email protected]. The IPT will consider the date received as the date the completed appeal form is received by email, provided the form is signed and payment details for the lodgement fee ($700) are included. The IPT has advised that hard copies of all documents can be sent when services are operating again. Submissions and evidence on new appeals can be provided later when the offices re-open.

Submissions and evidence on active appeals are to be sent to the same email address as above. If you have an IPT hearing in the coming weeks, it will be adjourned unless you are specifically contacted and told otherwise.

Appeal against a declined residence decision

If your residence visa application to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been declined, and you wish to appeal, IPT must receive your appeal no more than 42 days from the date on which INZ notified you of its decision.

If you are considering lodging an appeal on the basis of a declined resident visa application, it is critical to be aware that an INZ residence decision can only be appealed if you believe:

a. the Immigration New Zealand decision is wrong because you do satisfy the residence instructions in place when you applied for your visa, and/or

b. you have special circumstances that mean the Minister of Immigration should make an exception to those instructions. See section 187(4) of the Immigration Act 2009 to find out more about “special circumstances”.

Understanding whether or not you can reasonably make one of these arguments, and knowing how to do so, can require specialised knowledge. As an appellant, you are permitted to represent yourself in IPT proceedings. However, given the technical expertise and advocacy skills necessary, we recommend representation by either an experienced immigration lawyer, or a licensed immigration adviser.

Appeal against deportation on humanitarian grounds (non-resident) – unlawful appellants

 If you have unlawful status (e.g. because your visa expired or interim visa lapsed) in New Zealand and wish to appeal to the IPT, you should make sure to meet the applicable appeal deadline for your situation. Depending on your circumstances, different timeframes apply. If you are unlawful because you no longer have a valid visa, you have 42 days in which to lodge your appeal. If you have been served a Deportation Liability Notice, your window in which to appeal is only 28 days.

In any case, for your appeal to succeed, you must show the Tribunal that:

a. there are exceptional humanitarian circumstances that would make it unjust or unduly harsh to deport you from New Zealand, and

b. letting you stay in New Zealand would not be against the public interest.

As with residence visa appeals, if you are a non-resident appealing against deportation, you are permitted to represent yourself, but given the complexities of immigration law, and the severe personal consequences of a failed appeal, we highly recommend that you seek representation. This is our recommendation for any IPT proceedings you may choose to bring, including Deportation Appeal by a Resident/Permanent Resident, Refugee and Protection Status Appeal, or a Deportation Appeal (Cancelled Refugee and/or Protection Status).

If you would like to enquire about making an appeal, or have any questions related to this blog post, please contact Pathways NZ to discuss your options with one of our Licensed Immigration Advisers. All of our staff are working from home during the lockdown, and remain contactable by email and phone.

Details on the process for lodging a residence visa appeal, including the necessary form, are available on the IPT webpage.

New Zealand Courts and Tribunals are currently operating with limited capacity. Details of closures and restricted access can be found here.

An epidemic notice has been issued under the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006, in effect from Thursday 2 April 2020. This means temporary visa holders whose visas were due to expire between 1 April 2020 and 9 July 2020, will receive an automatic visa extension.

Pathways’ physical offices are now closed, but our immigration advisers will still be available to assist with your visa matters and enquiries.

All Pathways’ staff are now working from home as per our Government’s directive. However you will not notice any change as all telephone calls and emails will be received and responded to exactly as they would be normally. Visa enquiries and visa application work and lodgements will also continue as normal. The only difference is that our Hamilton and Wellington offices are not open to the public but, if you must deliver documents, please telephone and suitable arrangements will be made.

The whole world is impacted by the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and our top priority is the health and wellbeing of our wonderful country and especially of all of our staff and clients.

These changes will not compromise our ability to continue to deliver the high quality, trusted and expert immigration services for which Pathways is reputed. Most of our work, including visa applications, is able to be undertaken by phone, video conference and email and it is not actually necessary to meet in person (although in normal circumstances this is always our preference).

Our hearts and thoughts are with those people and businesses that have been affected by this worldwide outbreak and we strongly urge everyone in New Zealand to follow the Government guidelines to do what they can to minimise the impact to our country.

Stay safe and look after yourself and those around you, in particular those who are most vulnerable. 

More information about coronavirus, including how to self-isolate, is available on the Ministry of Health website.

On 24 February 2020, the remuneration or pay rate thresholds for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (SMC) and the Essential Skills Work Visa will increase. Based on the New Zealand median salary and wage rate (which has increased 2% since last year from NZD $25 per hour to NZD $25.50 per hour), the thresholds are updated annually.

The following tables, based on information released by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) on 19 December 2019, set out the changes and the relevant dates.

Hourly rates for SMC applicants, in order to be awarded points for skilled employment:

ANZSCO Level From 24 February 2020

 

Between 26 November 2018 and 23 February 2020
1, 2 or 3 NZD $25.50 or more per hour (NZD $53,040 per year) NZD $25.00 or more per hour (NZD $52,000 per year)
4 or 5 NZD $38.25 or more per hour (NZD $79,560 per year) NZD $37.50 or more per hour (NZD $78,000 per year)
4 or 5 *occupations treated as exceptions (read more about the ANZSCO changes) NZD $25.50 per hour (NZD $53,040 per year)

 

High Salary Bonus points NZD $51.00 or more per hour (NZD $106,080 per year) NZD $50.00 or more per hour (NZD $104,000 per year)

 

Hourly rates for Essential Skills applicants:

Skill band ANZSCO Level From 24 February 2020

 

Between 26 November 2018 and 23 February 2020
Mid-skilled 1, 2 or 3 NZD $21.68 or more per hour (NZD $45,094 per year) NZD $21.25 or more per hour (NZD $44,200 per year)
Mid-skilled 4 or 5 *occupations treated as exceptions NZD $25.50 per hour (NZD $53,040 per year)
Higher-skilled any NZD $38.25 or more per hour (NZD $79,560 per year) NZD $37.50 or more per hour (NZD $78,000 per year)
Lower-skilled any NZD $21.67 or less per hour (NZD $45,074 per year), will be lower-skilled NZD $21.24 or less per hour (NZD $44,179 per year)
Lower-skilled 4 or 5 NZD $38.24 or less per hour (NZD $79,539 per year) NZD $37.49 or less per hour (NZD $77,979 per year)

 

All work visa applications received on or after 24 February will be assessed using the new threshold. If your application for an Essential Skills Work Visa is received before 24 February 2020, it will be assessed using the old thresholds. However, if you already hold a visa and are applying for a further visa, the conditions or duration of your next visa could be different.

If your Expression of Interest (EOI) was selected before 24 February 2020 and you were invited to apply after 24 February 2020, the old remuneration thresholds apply when you apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category.

To discuss these changes and how they may relate to your personal circumstances, contact Pathways NZ to speak with a licensed immigration adviser.

The immigration Minister announced today the Government has decided to reopen the Parent resident visa category in early February 2020 with new requirements. The first selection is scheduled for May 2020. In the meantime, the category will temporarily close from today, 7 October 2019. This means that INZ will not accept expressions of interest (EOIs) from this date.

When the category reopens, 1,000 residence places will be available annually under the category.

Other changes from the current Parent resident visa criteria include:

  • Tier Two of the category will be removed
  • the settlement funds and the guaranteed lifetime income financial eligibility criteria will be removed
  • the new financial requirements for the Parent resident visa can only be met through the income of the sponsor and their partner. Here are the new financial requirements based on a median salary of NZ$53,040:
Expected income thresholds
1 sponsor for 1 parent NZD $106,080 2 times the median salary
1 sponsor for 2 parents NZD $159,120 3 times the median salary
Sponsor and partner  for 1 parent NZD $159,120 3 times the median salary
Sponsor and partner for 2 parents NZD $212,160 4 times the median salary
Guaranteed lifetime income of 1 applicant or for a couple Not available in new parent category
Settlement funds Not available in new parent category
  • sponsors will be required to provide evidence of their annual income through Inland Revenue tax statements, and that they’ve met it for two out of the three years before the application is lodged, and
  • the sponsorship period will be formally aligned with the New Zealand Superannuation residency eligibility requirement.

 Existing EOIs in the queue under the Parent Category

People with EOIs in the system will be emailed to inform them of the changes and invited to either update their EOI or withdraw it. People who withdraw their EOI will be eligible for a fee refund.

When the Parent Category reopens, EOIs will be selected in date order based on the date INZ originally received them (regardless of whether they were submitted under Tier One or Tier Two).

It is estimated that more than 5000 EOI’s are sitting in the pool with the likelihood that at least 80-90% of these will not qualify under the new rules, and will be a bitter pill to swallow considering many have been waiting for such a long period of time. The offer of a refund will be little consolation for the loss of the opportunity of family reunification.

Today’s announcement bears the hallmarks of the challenges face by a coalition government. It has been clear for some time that the Labour party is family orientated and wanted to reopen the category but will have received significant push back with NZ First who effectively pressured the previous National Government into placing a temporary hold on the category in the first place. Increasing the required minimum salary for sponsors to the levels announced will no doubt have been at the direction of or to appease NZ First to ensure the numbers of eligible applicants was as low as possible, their compromise in allowing the category to reopen. There has already been significant condemnation sighting the elitist and unfair nature of the changes, this could certainly not bode well for Labour within the all important migrant electorate in the coming election year.

Conversely for those that do qualify, there will be great relief that there is now light at the end of the tunnel and they can finally make future plans for their parents, the uncertainty of the last 3 years has left so many families in limbo. What isn’t quantifiable is how many highly skilled migrants has New Zealand lost over the last 3 years whilst the category was closed. either those already working in New Zealand that have decided to leave or those who chose not to come at all. At least there is now clarity for all to make informed decisions for their families futures.

If you wish to find out more about this category and your potential eligibility please do not hesitate to get in contact with me [email protected]

Becoming a Residential Care Officer is one possible pathway to live and work in New Zealand.

An offer of employment as a Residential Care Officer may make you eligible to apply for an Essential Skills Work Visa – subject to an employer demonstrating that they have tried to recruit New Zealanders for the position and have been unsuccessful.

Employment as a Residential Care Officer could also allow you to claim points under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa – provided you have sufficient total points to meet the requirements of this points-based resident visa.

What is a Residential Care Officer?

Residential Care Officer is one of the jobs listed by the Australia & New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). The ANZSCO lists the jobs recognized by Immigration New Zealand for visa application purposes. The ANZSCO also lists the Skill Level of each job, which is important information for deciding which visa types an applicant may qualify for. A Residential Care Officer role has a Skill Level of 2.

According to the ANZSCO description, a Residential Care Officer “[p]rovides care and supervision for children or disabled persons in group housing or institutional care.” The ANZSCO also lists the tasks a Residential Care Officer performs as follows:

  • assessing clients’ needs and planning, developing and implementing educational, training and support programs
  • interviewing clients and assessing the nature and extent of difficulties
  • monitoring and reporting on the progress of clients
  • referring clients to agencies that can provide additional help
  • supporting families and providing education and care for children and disabled persons in adult service units, group housing and government institutions

 

How do you know if you are a Residential Care Officer?

Meeting the standards required of an ANZSCO occupation is not dependant on your job title. Your official job title might be “Residential Care Officer” on your employment contract, but that does not necessarily mean you meet the ANZSCO requirements of the role. Conversely, though your official job title might be completely different from “Residential Care Officer”, you may still meet the ANZSCO requirements. More important than your job title, and even more important than your written job description, are the tasks and duties that you actually perform in your role and how these are able to be evidenced.

Unlike other roles in the care sector, Residential Care Officers are not primarily engaged in looking after the day to day needs of patients and clients. Instead they have strategic and long-term oversight of client care. In this way, Residential Care Officer roles differ from roles like that of Personal Care Assistant, Nursing Support Worker or Aged or Disabled Carer, and carry a higher ANZSCO Skill Level. However, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has shown a tendency to assume roles in the fields of care and welfare, are primarily about personal caregiving. This is why it is important to provide very credible and well-documented evidence in support of an application, proving that you routinely perform the relevant ANZSCO tasks, as core components of your daily work. Recent decisions of the Immigration & Protection Tribunal (IPT) confirm the critical importance of evidence that specifically addresses the Residential Care Officer tasks listed by the ANZSCO.

If you currently work, or plan to work, as a Residential Care Officer, there are a number of immigration pathways to New Zealand potentially available to you. Before making an application it is strongly advised that you seek the guidance of a licensed immigration advisor. Contact Pathways NZ for more detailed information and a free preliminary assessment.

The New Zealand Government’s new KiwiBuild scheme will see changes to immigration settings in order to help the construction and housing sector to attract overseas skilled workers.

The government’s response to New Zealand’s shortage of affordable housing is the new KiwiBuild scheme which will see the construction of 100,000 starter homes for first home buyers over the next ten years, with half of those new houses earmarked for the Auckland region.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) projected in late 2017 that there could be a potential shortfall of approximately 30,000 workers to meet increasing demand in housing and infrastructure, with this number likely to rise as a result of the KiwiBuild initiative. The shortage affects all skills categories in the construction sector but particular growth is expected in the demand for plumbers, electricians, builders, civil engineers and project managers.

The proposed changes, which are expected to come in to force late 2018 or early 2019, include three key components.

The first is a dedicated KiwiBuild Skills Shortage List. This list will identify specific roles for which the immigration process will be streamlined. The list will expand on the innovations introduced in the Canterbury Skills Shortage List, which was brought in after the Christchurch earthquake to help with the city’s rebuild.

For roles included on the KiwiBuild Skills Shortage List, an employer may not need to prove to Immigration New Zealand that they have made a genuine attempt to employ a New Zealand citizen or resident visa holder for the position.

The second component of the change will provide advantages for companies who have proven standards as good employers in the construction sector. Employer accreditation or pre-approval should see faster processing and greater simplicity in visa applications.

Employers will be able to benefit from this streamlined process if they reach high standards of health and safety, have good business practices and can demonstrate good employment conditions, pay, training, skills development and pastoral care.

For employers who comply with the pre-approval criteria this will offer greater opportunities to plan their workforce and hire overseas workers to meet the expected demand.

During periods of skills shortage there is often concern around the risk of exploitation of migrant workers through lower wages and poor working conditions. The third component of the proposed changes will put in place steps to minimise that risk by introducing specific requirements for labour hire companies, establishing a mandatory accreditation scheme to cover third party arrangements.

This Immigration New Zealand accreditation is likely to require labour hire companies to pay workers at least the market rate and offer terms and conditions equivalent to the hire company’s other employees, as well as ensuring equity across all employees’ terms and conditions. The accreditation may also see hire companies having to meet the upfront costs of worker recruitment.

Hire companies will also likely be responsible for ensuring that contracted third parties uphold good practices in the workplace.  Failure to comply with this and any of the new proposed changes could mean that Immigration New Zealand could cancel the hire company’s accreditation and the benefits that go with it.

The Government may also consider the option that work visas issued under the KiwiBuild Skills Shortage list may have more flexible conditions and could, for example, require the worker just to work in their specific role and not restrict the worker to a particular employer or location.

Recruiting to meet periods of high demand and maintaining legal and ethical obligations in employing migrant staff can be complex. We recommend that employers begin this process with the benefit of professional advice and assistance on visa matters from an experienced Licenced Immigration Adviser or Immigration Lawyer.

The Pathways New Zealand team will be monitoring progress on these proposals and will confirm the final details of the changes once they are announced.

During June the Government opened up consultation on proposed changes to post-study work visa categories. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway intends that the proposed changes will help eliminate or reduce migrant exploitation and will encourage international students to study higher quality courses and courses which will lead to employment roles in the areas which New Zealand needs.

If introduced, the proposed changes would see the removal of the post-study employer-assisted 2 year work visa and the introduction of a three-year post-study open work visa for degree level 7 and higher qualifications. All students studying below Level 7 would only be entitled to a one-year post-study open work visa and only if their qualification required at least 2 years of study. In addition, visa eligibility for accompanying families of students would be tightened with only partners and children of students studying level 8 or 9 qualifications in an area of long term skill shortage being entitled to partner work, and dependent child student, visas.

The Government is right to focus on student worker and migrant exploitation as such exploitation is now endemic in New Zealand – however the proposed changes, in our view, would do little to remedy this situation. The pathway many international students take to study in New Zealand is fraught with exploitation, largely due to dishonest Education Agents not acting in the best interests of their student clients and misleading students as to their course and future visa entitlements. Agents often enrol students in low level and inappropriate courses, and at particular institutions, based on the commissions they can earn and with little regard to the student’s best interests and long term future. This is where many problems begin and the Government must now look closely at requiring all student visa advisers to be licensed and regulated by the Immigration Advisers Authority.

Once a student has completed their course and gained their post-study work visa, they currently face the challenge of obtaining employment relevant to their qualification within a 12 month period. For many such visa holders, securing relevant employment can also create a pathway to residency. This pressure to find suitable employment to extend their visa can often lead to a person being forced to take up an employment role on terms dictated by the employer and which have little regard to New Zealand employment law. Currently, the only practical option for a migrant worker in an exploitative situation like this is to find new employment and then to change their visa to this new employment. However, the reality is that very often in these situations the visa holder is unable to find new employment and has no choice but to remain being exploited in their existing role. Additionally, migrants are often fearful of reporting unscrupulous employers to Immigration New Zealand as this will directly impact their work situation and can lead to losing their job and work visa and place them in a very difficult situation having no job and no visa to allow work. These people and their families have invested many tens of thousands of dollars in their education in New Zealand and need to work to repay this debt.

If the Government is serious about stamping out migrant exploitation it must introduce more effective processes to identify exploitative employers and take proactive action against these employers. A constructive first step would be to introduce a suitable interim “visa solution” for visa holders who were being exploited so they can be more willing to speak out and to provide key employer information without having the worry of their own visa situation to protect.

While the proposal for a 3 year open work visa after graduation will take initial pressure off the requirement to obtain employment for visa purposes the potential effect will be that many of these visa holders will resort to self-employment (eg; Uber drivers) and undertaking cash work as there is no immediate compunction on them to enter into lawful, documented, employment. In fact there is a real prospect that their visa situation will directly lead to greater exploitation due to the lack of oversight of what they will be doing and what any employer is requiring of them.

The pressure will go on again when it comes to the end of the open work visa term when the visa holder does require a particular employment role to support a new work visa or a residence application. Due to the extended passing of time to get to this juncture the likelihood is that these people will be subjected to, and open to, a much greater level of potential exploitation that what otherwise would be the case.

In addition the 3 year work visa will provide the time and opportunity for visa holders to pursue other avenues to stay in New Zealand including establishing their own businesses and forming partnership relationships, and to focus on these avenues to obtain residence. We do not believe these outcomes provide the best benefit to New Zealand and do not make use of their New Zealand qualifications.

Our view is that is that consideration should be given to the introduction of a work-to-residence pathway for student graduates. This could work similar to the existing WTR schemes whereby an applicant must work in a certain job for 2 years and can then directly apply for residence. This scheme would operate like an internship and would encourage both graduate students and employers to invest in a longer term employment relationship – and would see graduate students appropriately motivated to progress their careers rather than sitting around for 3 years until they have to do something.

It would be naive to believe that many international students coming to study here are not significantly motivated by the prospect of working in New Zealand and gaining residence in the future. Of the two main student markets, India and China, the vast majority choose New Zealand to study because of the prospect to pathway to residence. This motivation of immigration policy settings cannot be downplayed or ignored as without it the international education industry, New Zealand’s 5th biggest export earner,  will stall and likely retreat.

The reality of this situation must be accepted, and students should be encouraged by policy settings to study in the courses that will lead to employment in roles which will benefit New Zealand and which will deliver the residence outcome to the student. Any changes to the existing post-study visas should therefore seek to protect students from exploitation, whilst enabling and pro-actively encouraging them to seek career focused employment roles which are in demand in New Zealand and which can advance their future residence eligibility. This begins with the student choosing better-quality and focused courses which can then lead to better quality student outcomes and employment prospects.

There is nothing at all wrong with the existence of a study-to-residence pathway. Such a pathway enables relatively young, New Zealand qualified people who have good English and local friends and connections, and who have already assimilated to New Zealand, to build upon this very sound foundation and to become the New Zealanders of the future. We just need the immigration settings that will first attract the students we want, and which will protect them from exploitation, and then encourage them to stay and to provide the skills New Zealand needs so we can realise this future together. Our view is that the proposed policy changes correctly identify the issues but are very much formulated in reaction to the current situation and do not recognise the consequences of what the changes will promulgate. Our preference is for more forward thinking and constructive policies that will deliver the preferred long term outcomes for the benefit of New Zealand, and of the student.

Whilst there is no requirement for a migrant to use the services of an immigration adviser they can benefit significantly from the advice and expertise of an experienced and reputable adviser.

The first and most reliable way to choose an adviser is by referral from someone who has previously used and recommended the adviser. Approximately 80% of Pathways new clients are referred to us.

Advisers must be licensed and maintain a current license (renewed annual) from the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA). The IAA website maintains a searchable list of advisers. The website can be used to find an adviser and/or verify that the person you are thinking of engaging with is suitably licensed and eligible to represent you.

Each adviser has their own unique 9 digit license number. The first 4 numbers signify the year that the adviser first became licensed, this therefore becomes an immediate reference to the level of experience that person has. As licensing was introduced in 2008 the most experienced advisers numbers will begin with 2008 as do 3 of the advisers at Pathways.

Given the level of experience can be indicated by the adviser’s license number it should also be established the size of the organisation that the adviser works for and the depth of experience within the company. A relatively new adviser maybe working in a company of 5+ advisers where there is significant combined experience and structured supervision and governance. In addition a robust company infrastructure will ensure that an advisers business can continue to function seamlessly if the adviser is absent. There should always be someone who can be contacted and who is knowledgeable about your application. At Pathways we have 11 advisers who combined have over 80 years of New Zealand immigration experience as well as experienced support staff.

Look beyond the website – in this day and age it is very easy to create a great website that can create the impression of professionalism and experience. It’s really important to dig under the surface and establish just how experienced the person is, not only general experience but have they got the actual relevant experience to understand and assist with your specific requirements.

Is the adviser a member of a credible professional industry body – NZAMI (New Zealand Association of Migration and Investment) is the main professional body an adviser is most likely to be a member of.

The public profile of the adviser within the industry. Are they involved with industry reference groups?
Pathways director Richard Howard is regularly invited to participate on industry reference groups –he is currently on the panel overseeing the development of the new adviser qualification and regularly meets with INZ senior executives to provide industry feedback.

Do they present at industry seminars?
Several of Pathways advisers have been invited to present at NZAMI adviser professional development seminars, most recently Anthony Callaghan presented on deportation liability for residents convicted of offences after residence granted, and Charlotte Summers presented on Domestic Violence Matters and Immigration Law.

Ultimately once you’ve established that the person has the credentials to manage your requirements do you think you can work with them? You may be working with that person for a number of months so above all you have to feel confident that you can trust each other and work together as a team to achieve your goal.