Posts

The New Zealand economy is undergoing a dramatic shift because of COVID-19, and the labour market is in the midst of massive upheaval. Jobs and businesses have already been lost, with some sectors – like hospitality and tourism – hit harder than others. Not just migrant workers, but local New Zealand workers are finding themselves suddenly unemployed. As a consequence, New Zealand immigration policy is, and will continue to be affected. Essential Skills work visa applicants should be aware – there will be even greater scrutiny around labour market tests from now on.

According to immigration instructions, to approve an Essential Skills work visa, an immigration officer must be satisfied that there are no New Zealand citizens or residents available, or trainable, to do the job the applicant is being employed to do. To establish this, a sponsoring employer must first make a genuine attempt to attract and recruit a suitable New Zealand citizen or resident for the role.

The requisite recruitment process includes broadly advertising the position to attract local workers. As well as the content of a job advertisement, and the manner in which a job is advertised, immigration officers are instructed that they may take many things into consideration when assessing whether a suitable New Zealander is available for the job which may include any advice from Work and Income, industry stakeholders and unions.

Given increasing unemployment, it is more likely that suitable local workers will be found as a result of this process. In any case, INZ will require more rigorous testing because of the expectation that there is a larger pool of available local workers. An objective of the Essential Skills policy is to not displace domestic workers from employment opportunities. If an employer claims that no suitable New Zealand applicants were found, they will be expected to explain why and to provide appropriate evidence. Further – if an employer claims that no reasonably trainable New Zealand applicants were found – they will be expected to provide evidence for that as well. For jobs aligned with an ANZSCO Level 5 position, it is automatically assumed that an employer is able to train a New Zealand citizen or resident for the role.

In addition to the requirement that no New Zealanders are available to fill the position, an immigration officer must also be satisfied that the employment being offered is sustainable. They must be sure that the position – on the basis of which an employee applies for a work visa – is one that an employer actually needs filled, and can financially afford. INZ looks for things like whether the employing business has suffered major losses, whether the business is in debt, the size of the business and whether there are opportunities for expansion. In a post-coronavirus climate, New Zealand businesses, many of which have seen reductions in revenues, will have a harder time proving that they can realistically afford to hire migrant workers. A greater level of stringency will be applied to checking on the employer’s business situation.

INZ have provided further guidance to immigration officers during this time. Under normal circumstances, the labour market can be assumed to remain relatively static between an employer’s attempt to recruit a New Zealander, and the time at which an immigration officer assesses the subsequent work visa application. However, the COVID-19 lockdown, and travel restrictions to New Zealand have caused much faster movement in the labour market.

Unemployment rates have risen in a short time. StatsNZ has reported that the unemployment rate rose 0.2 percent over the last quarter and is currently the highest it has been since December 2018. According to Government communications, the number of people receiving Jobseeker Support has, at the beginning of May, increased to 184,404. At the same time, 1,720,008 people are associated with paid applications under the Wage Subsidy Scheme.

All of this contributes to making the labour market test more problematic. Coronavirus and its effects mean that an already complicated visa process has become even moreso. It is strongly recommended that if you are seeking to make a work visa application it is in your interests to seek professional advice. Pathways staff are available to help with any queries you have. Contact us today to speak with a licensed immigration adviser.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have announced extensions for some residence applicants who have received an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

If you:

  • submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) for a Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) residence visa, or
  • submitted an EOI for an Investor 2 residence visa, and
  • received an ITA between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020

–then you now have an additional six months to submit your residence application.

The normal timeframe to submit an application after receiving an EOI is four months. With the additional six months, the new time allowance is a total of 10 months from the date of the ITA. This extension is an acknowledgement of the significant difficulties applicants have been experiencing in compiling the required documents and information to lodge their residence application.

The Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill 2020, which was passed last week, offered some hope that the Government would exercise its new powers to waive some mandatory document requirements. It appears that a different approach is being taken. Though this extension of time is good news, it strongly suggests that INZ will be unlikely to waive any lodgement requirements pertaining to mandatory documents as it should now be possible to organise these in the extended time being given.

This new move may also enable INZ to stagger their processing of residence applications. The huge queue of unprocessed applications has been a cause of distress for some time now. The global crisis and COVID-19 lockdown have exacerbated this problem, setting back INZ workforce capabilities and slowing down the processing timeframes even further. By allowing applicants more time to submit, INZ are also potentially allowing themselves more time to process applications.

Regardless of this extension, it remains our strong recommendation that all residence applicants submit their applications as soon as possible. Do not delay an application because there is more time.  The processing queue is only getting longer. Applications are prioritised according to new COVID-19 prioritisation criteria. After taking account of these priorities all other applications are assessed in date order of lodgement.

If you would like help with your residence application, or you are having difficulties compiling your residence application documents, please contact Pathways to speak with a Licensed Immigration Adviser.

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.

Pharmacy Technicians are in demand and is a role that can provide a viable pathway to permanent residence in New Zealand

If you are offered a position of Pharmacy Technician in New Zealand, you may have a bright future to work and live here permanently. The occupation of Pharmacy Technician is included on the Immediate Skill Shortage List which recognises there is current shortage of such skills in New Zealand.

How to become a Pharmacy Technician in New Zealand

To become a Pharmacy Technician and undertake basic dispensary work you need to have a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy (Pharmacy Technician (Level 4)) which is the minimum requirement to work in New Zealand as a Pharmacy Technician.

To become a fully qualified pharmacy technician you need to have a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy – Pharmacy Technician (Level 5).

You can qualify in one of three ways:

  • Part-time distance study through Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, while you do paid work of at least 20 hours a week in a community or hospital pharmacy as a Pharmacy Assistant or Trainee Pharmacy Technician. To complete a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy (Pharmacy Technician) Level 4, you need to complete 115 credits. For each credit, it is about 10 hours of study.
  • Full-time study for around 70 weeks to complete a Certificate in Pharmacy Technician Level 5

Trainee Pharmacy Technicians usually earn $36,000 to $42,000 per year and a qualified Pharmacy Technician can earn from $42,000 to $56,000 per year.

An opportunity for overseas Pharmacy Technician

If you are an overseas qualified and experienced Pharmacy Technician it is possible for you to be accepted to study for the New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy – Pharmacy Technician (Level 4) course if you are also offered employment as a Trainee Pharmacy Technician or Pharmacy Assistant.

Alternatively you can enrol as an international student in the Level 5 programme and on graduation be entitled to the 12 month open job search work visa to help you in finding a suitable Pharmacy Technician job – with some 88% of graduates are successful in obtaining such employment.

Employment as a Pharmacy Technician on a pay rate of $24.29 per hour or more can be acceptable for a Skilled Migrant Category Residence application if an applicant can also achieve the required SMC points.

Contact a Pathways adviser now for detailed information and a FREE preliminary assessment!