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New Zealand extends temporary work visas by six months

The government of New Zealand has extended temporary work visas by six months for some migrants already in the country, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has said.

According to the press release:

On July 7, the Government of New Zealand made 3 key changes to temporary work visas. These changes are due to the impact that COVID-19 continues to have on businesses and temporary work visa holders in New Zealand.

These changes will provide migrants with more certainty about their work situation in the short term. They will also allow employers to keep work visa holders they already employ without taking away opportunities from New Zealanders.

There are 3 changes:

6 month extensions for employer-assisted temporary work visas

If you are in New Zealand on the 10 July 2020 and you hold an employer-assisted temporary work visa due to expire before 31 December 2020, it will be extended for 6 months. This includes:

  • visas that are due to expire after 9 July
  • visas that were previously extended to 25 September under the Epidemic Management Notice.

An employer-assisted temporary work visa includes:

  • Essential Skills
  • Work to Residence
  • Special and Skilled work visas for China, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam
  • Special category work visas for Japanese Interpreters and Thai Chefs
  • Work visas granted under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009 that specify an employer

All your other original visa conditions stay the same, including your job title and location.

You (or your advisor if they are listed as your contact) will receive an email from Immigration New Zealand confirming your visa extension by Tuesday 14 July.

Visas for partners and dependent children will not be extended

If you have supported a partner or dependent child and they have a visa based on their relationship with you, their visa expiry date will not be extended. They will need to apply for a new visa.

Changes to your employment

If you are looking for a new role or the conditions of your employment have changed, you will need to apply for a variation of conditions or a new visa depending on your circumstances. If you need to apply for a new Essential Skills visa, the employer will need to demonstrate that they have made genuine attempts to recruit and train New Zealanders before they can employ you.

Employers looking to fill lower-paid roles will still need obtain a skilled match report (SMR) from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) before employing a migrant worker.

Delay to the 12 month stand-down period for lower-paid workers

The introduction of the12 month stand-down period for lower-paid workers who have had their employer-assisted work visa extended will be delayed.

If you are employed in a lower-paid role where you must stand down between August 2020 and of the 31 December 2020, you will be able to stay in New Zealand and work for the same employer in the same occupation and location for up to 6 more months, in line with your visa extension.

The stand-down period will still apply if you apply for another lower-paid Essential Skills work visa including to work for another employer, or change location in a lower-paid role.

If you are required to stand down from February 2021, you must leave New Zealand for 12 months before you can apply for another lower-paid work visa.

Some Essential Skills work visas reduced to 6 months

The duration of new lower- Essential Skills work visas will be reduced from 12 to six months.

This change will affect all new lower- Essential Skills work visa applications lodged from 10 July 2020.

Applications received before 10 July will still be granted a 12 months visa if approved.

Future changes that may affect you

From 27 July, we will start using a simple remuneration threshold to determine whether a job is lower-paid or higher paid. This means if you apply for a work visa for a job that pays below the median wage, your employer will need to include a Skills Match Report (SMR) from MSD. Your visa duration will be dependent on whether you will be paid above or below the national median wage.

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