The much anticipated ANZSCO skill-level changes were announced on 15 July. Immigration policy changes are coming in “thick and fast” and now it’s all about money and the knock-on affect on Essential Skills work visa holders.
In our opinion, strategic moves have been made [by the government] and is not necessarily in favour of the visa holder. Consider the following, on 7 July 2020 the government made two announcements:
- short-term changes to the Employer-assisted visa holders were give an “extra” 6 month visa extension [if the visa is expiring on/before 31 December 2020]. This “seems” like a generous gesture; and
- from 10 July 2020, lower-skilled visa holders will only be eligible for a 6 month work visa, not 12 months as per previous policy. This will remain in affect until 10 January 2022 and has reduced the time these workers can spend in New Zealand by 18 months!
It’s a “give” and “take” situation here and in our opinion, the “give” is to help New Zealand “buy” time with migrants stimulating the economy while the government decides what the labour-market will look like in the next 18 months! Remember, approximately 750 New Zealanders are returning home on a daily basis.
When you consider the new changes starting from 27 July, it’s all the do with remuneration.
Remuneration and Median Wage
Currently set at $25.50 [per hour] and a constant moving target, any work visa holder caught earning BELOW median wage are going to find themselves stuck with a 6-month work visa between now and 10 January 2022 and be classed as “lower-skilled” i.e. a 6-month work visa for a maximum of 18 months [3 x 6-month work visa applications] AND very stringent labour-market testing.
Anyone earning AT or ABOVE the median way will find themselves being granted a 3-year work visa but ANZSCO and skill-level will still apply under the Skilled Migrant Category (“SMC”) for residence applications. The concern for us are those work visa holders who are on a skill level 4.
Example: Prison Officers may currently meet the median hourly rate but are unlikely to meet current $38.25 per hour currently set [for skill-level 4 and 5 roles]. The likelihood of earning $79,560.00 p.a [or $38.25] is unheard of in these roles. These applicants will have no pathway to residence.
Summary of Median Wage – Below and At or Above
The table below provides a summary of the new policy changes:
Supporting the Family
Previously, lower-skilled work visa holders were unable to support their family’s visas [partners and dependent children], this is a welcome change for these people. However, the work visa holder will have to meet the minimum income threshold of $43,322.76 p.a. This is bitter-sweet as these visas will only be valid for SIX months at a time with a maximum of 18 months up until 10 January 2022.
There is a silver-lining for those current low-skilled work visa holders who meet [or are above] the median wage. They are now eligible for a THREE year work visa and can support their partners and children on longer visas with no stand-down periods.
In our opinion, there are various concerns with the new policy changes as they profoundly impact both the Temporary and Residence pathways for applicants and their supporting families. The “ball-game” has changed and the “goal-post” is a moving target!
As Immigration New Zealand steer ahead with the mandatory Employer Accreditation requirement [set to be rolled out by July 2021], we anticipate seeing more changes in this space.
Read here to find out all the information on the policy changes.
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