New Zealand: Immigration Update September 2023
Immigration New Zealand have now confirmed that the median wage will be increasing from February 2024, in line with the Statistics NZ data released in August. This has a number of implications for both employers and employees, we’ve prepared an overview of what you need to be aware of.
INZ have also released updates around Job Checks where multiple roles are included, and the review of the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment we’ve provided a brief overview in the below.
The median wage will be increasing by 6.6% from the current rate of $29.66 per hour, to the new rate of $31.61 per hour in February 2024. This means that to be eligible to apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa from February onward applicants will need to be paid at least $31.61 per hour, unless there is a sector agreement in place.
The increase will be reflected across the various wage thresholds which are indexed to the median wage, including the Green List and also the Skilled Migrant Residence Category. Naturally this directly impacts on the twice the median criteria, with this increasing to $63.22 per hour.
What do I need to be aware of?
If you’re planning to hire migrants from February onward using the Accredited Employer Work Visa category, you’ll need to ensure that they earn at least $31.61 per hour.
If you typically rely on meeting the ‘twice the median’ criteria for mitigating the need for advertising evidence in your Job Check applications, then this may be impacted. Similarly, there are several Green List positions which include salary criteria, it may impact on your ability to rely on these categories for your new employees meaning they need to consider alternate pathways toward Residence.
In line with the changes to Work Visas for dependent partners implemented last year, for partners of those who are not on the Green List or earning more than twice the median, there will be conditions placed on their Work Visa which mean they must only work for an accredited employer, earning at least the median (except where sector agreement exemptions apply). This does limit options for many accompanying partners and further impacts on the ability to maintain or better their lifestyle in their new home country.
For employees who are not on an immediate pathway to Residence, it may be worthwhile considering renewing their Work Visa under current conditions in November, when the AEWV extends from a 3 to a 5 year duration, this will allow them far more leeway to position themselves on a pathway to Residence and avoids you losing experienced team members in the short term.
What does this mean for my employees?
Migrants who are on a pathway to Residence either through the Tier Two Green List or Highly Paid categories will need to have met the current median wage (or twice the current median) for the full duration of the two years preceding their application for Residence. For those applying under the new Skilled Migrant category and using Skilled Work Experience as one of the ways they are gaining points, then they may need to meet the median wage or any salary criteria under the relevant definition of ‘Skilled Work’, at both the start and end of the skilled work experience period for which they are claiming points.
In short, in many cases this means if their wages are not increased to meet the median when this changes, this will directly impact on their eligibility to apply for a Residence class visa.
Many employees will not be aware of the implications, so this may come as an unwelcome surprise particularly if they haven’t had the opportunity to review alternative pathways or means to become eligible for Residence.
Immigration New Zealand are applying more scrutiny to Job Checks submitted for more than one vacancy in this same application. Whilst in the past these were processed in the same manner as a Job Check for a single position, these types of applications are taking a lot longer to process, the recommendation moving forward is to provide the following additional supporting documentation to show that these are genuine vacancies:
- organisation charts (showing the vacant positions)
- contracts for ongoing work
- details on your migrant settlement support
This can be provided in the ‘further evidence’ section of the Job Check application.
Qualifications Exempt from Assessment Review
Given the increasing reliance on recognized qualifications for both the Green List & now the new Skilled Migrant categories, it is clear the International Qualification Assessment (IQA) system as it stands would create an even more significant backlog. As a welcome update, the Government have advised that they will be updating the list of qualifications exempt from NZQA assessment. The addition of further recognized qualifications will take place in several phases, with the first to align with the release to the Skilled Migrant Visa changes coming into effect on the 9th October.
For more detailed information about the changes and how they might impact your people, connect with our team of fully licensed advisers by contacting Crown World Mobility at [email protected]
This summary was prepared using information obtained from INZ. Information is subject to change without notice.