Wrapping up 2018

Santa

Everyone thought 2017 was the year of dramatic changes to the immigration field with the introduction of major adjustments to the Essential Skills Work Visa and Skilled Migrant Residence Visa Categories. But looking back at all the changes introduced to date, I would say 2018 was equally busy with policy shifts that took effect right up to the end of last month. Seeing that this will be the last Laurent Law blog for the year, I thought I should wrap it up with an overview of the changes we faced in 2018 before we close off for Christmas and welcome the new year.

Date Changes/Announcements
January 2018 Remuneration threshold for SMC and ESWVFollowing the major changes to the Skilled Migrant Resident Visa (“SMC”) and Essential Skills Work Visa (“ESWV”) policies in August 2017, minimum income thresholds for all skill bands for the two types of visas were increased for the first time and took effect from 15 January 2018.
June 2018 Minimum income threshold for other categoriesMinimum income thresholds for other visa categories were also increased and took effect in mid 2018 as follows:

  • New thresholds for Samoan Quota Scheme and Pacific Access Category applicants who have partners or dependent children included took effect from 1 June 2018
  • New thresholds for Essential Skills and Religious Worker work visa holders whose dependent children are in New Zealand on other temporary visas took effect from 1 July 2018
  • New thresholds for the guaranteed lifetime minimum income requirements for the Parent Category (Tier 1) Residence took effect from 1 July 2018

Further detail on the new income thresholds can be found here.

July 2018 E-Visas – Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) announced that it will no longer issue visa labels and only issue electronic visas (“E-Visas”) for all visa types as of 4 July 2018, except for student visas granted through Provider Direct.

However, INZ recently announced that e-visas will be issued for student visas granted through Provider Direct as of 26 November 2018. See the latest announcement here.

August 2018 Proposed changes to the Post-Study Work Visas – On 8 August 2018, INZ announced the changes to the Post-study work visa (“PSWV”) policy by removing the 2 year employer-assisted PSWV at all levels, and offering to provide 1-3 year open PSWV based on the level of qualification and the location of study. For further detail, refer to our blog on PSWV changes.

Changes to the Interim Visa – By law, interim visas were deemed to expire on the day after the decision on the main application was made or 6 months after the interim visa was granted (whichever comes first). But as of 27 August 2018, the validity of interim visas were varied to allow it to remain valid for 21 days after the further temporary visa application has been declined or withdrawn. For further detail, refer to our latest blog on interim visas.

October 2018 Introduction of Electronic Travel Authority – INZ announced in October 2018 that travellers, including citizens of visa waiver countries, will be required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (“ETA”) before travelling to New Zealand by second half of 2019. It announced that ETAs will enable border officers to screen travellers in advance for border and immigration risks and make border crossing a seamless process. For further detail on ETAs, refer to our blog.
November 2018 Remuneration threshold for SMC and ESWV II – The minimum income thresholds for all skill bands for the two types of visas were increased again following its first increase in January 2018. The new income thresholds took effect from 26 November 2018 tightening the policy even further for those who were planning to seek visas under these categories. For further detail on the changes, refer to our latest blog.

This brings us to the last month of the year. The only final announcement I came across was the first Expression of Interest (“EOI”) selection dates for 2019, which may be of interest to some readers. If you plan on submitting Skilled Migrant Category or Investor 2 Category EOIs early next year, the first EOI draws for 2019 will take place on 23 January (for SMC) and 17 January (for Investor 2) respectively so key in these dates on your 2019 calendar.

However, at the time of writing we have just become aware that the Minister of Immigration intends to make an announcement next week about a Cabinet decision to alter Work Visa policy.  Details will be posted up as they come to hand.

If you think you will require our assistance during the festive season, then please also key in these dates in your calendar as we will be closed for business from Monday, 24 December 2018 and will not be open until Monday, 7 January 2019.

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Shifting goalposts

In August 2017, Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) overhauled the Skilled Migrant Residence Visa and Essential Skills Work Visa Categories instituting key changes to policy. One of the most striking changes was the introduction of remuneration thresholds as a means of defining “skilled employment”[1] in the Residence Visa space, and for assessing the “skill band” of a Work Visa applicant’s job which in turn determines the duration of the temporary visa that can be granted.

The remuneration thresholds are reviewed annually in November based on New Zealand’s income data.[2] Since the announcement was first made, there have been two such reviews and each one resulted in an increase to the minimum income threshold for all skill bands, the latest adjustment coming into effect on 26 November 2018:[3]

Threshold for Skilled Migrant Residence Visa Applications From 26 November 2018 – present From 15 January 2018 – 25 November 2018 From 28 August 2017 – 14 January 2018
Skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1 – 3 $25.00 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $24.29 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $23.49 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 4 – 5, or which is not included in ANZSCO $37.50 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $36.44 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $35.24 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold to earn bonus points $50.00 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $48.58 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $46.98 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

 

Skill Bands for Essential Skill Work Visa Applications From 26 November 2018 – present From 15 January 2018 – 25 November 2018 From 28 August 2017 – 14 January 2018
Mid-skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1 – 3 $21.25 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $20.65 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $19.77 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Higher-skilled employment in any occupation (including those at ANZSCO 4-5) $37.50 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $36.44 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $35.24 p/h or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Lower-skilled employment (for all ANZSCO levels) $21.24 p/h or below (or the equivalent annual salary) $20.64 p/h or below (or the equivalent annual salary) $19.76 p/h or below (or the equivalent annual salary)
Lower-skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 4-5 $37.49 p/h or below (or the equivalent annual salary) $36.43 p/h or below (or the equivalent annual salary) $35.23 p/h or below (or the equivalent annual salary)

(ANZSCO refers to the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, which is used by Immigration to assess the skill level of a job.)

As can be seen in the tables above, in a relatively short space of time between August 2017 and November 2018, the salary thresholds have increased relatively steeply. These shifting goalposts will undoubtedly make it increasingly difficult for hopeful Skilled Migrant applicants to be eligible to submit an Expression of Interest, and could abruptly shorten the visa duration of Essential Skills Work Visa applicants.

Whilst there is no escaping the new remuneration thresholds, the following tips may help to ease some of the other pressures you may be facing:

For the Skilled Migrant Category

  • If you do not have the minimum 160 points, consider looking for employment outside of Auckland so that you can secure an additional 30 bonus points. It might pay to have a conversation with your current employer to discuss options for a transfer to another branch outside of Auckland;
  • If you have a longer term temporary visa, one way to acquire sufficient points is to spend time building your New Zealand work experience but this could mean potentially postponing submitting your Expression of Interest by one to two years;
  • Claim points strategically by claiming no more than the minimum 160 points required, and limit points claimed for “skilled work experience” to only include New Zealand work experience and / or work experience gained relatively recently (as opposed to a long time ago);
  • Consider applying for a job with an Accredited Employer. While this will probably postpone your ability to apply for residence by about two years, the application process will be more straight forward and less stressful than the Skilled Migrant Category.

For the Essential Skills Category

  • Be thoughtful when selecting an ANZSCO Unit Group which you believe is a substantial match to your current employment. Avoid pitching your job against a Skill Level 1 ANZSCO Unit Group unless it is obviously a highly skilled job;
  • Apply for your new visa well in advance of your current temporary visa expiring to allow sufficient time for labour market testing to be undertaken by your employer;
  • To avoid unnecessary issues arising during the processing of this visa, ensure that the information in all of your employment documentation is consistent, including for example your Job Title as it is listed in your Employment Agreement, Job Description, Employer Supplementary Form and advertising materials;
  • As above, consider working for an Accredited Employer.

There is no question that it is now more challenging that ever to apply for job-based temporary and residence visas in New Zealand. Should you require our guidance  navigating through these challenges, feel free to book a consultation with us to discuss your options.

[1]           In the recent past, a visa applicant’s job description as it related to their chosen ANZSCO Unit Group(s) was the key yardstick by which “skilled employment” was measured. Note that an applicant’s employment also had to be on the (now defunct) List of Skilled Occupations at Appendix 6 of the Operational Manual.

[2]           Immigration New Zealand Operational Manual, Skilled Migrant Category, at Instruction SM6.20(j).

[3]           Immigration New Zealand website, News & Notifications,<https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/skilled-migrant-and-essential-skills-visas-2014-changes-to-remuneration-thresholds>   (9 November 2018).

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Applying for partnership visas

partners

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident who has spent time overseas? You may have found yourself with a partner who is a citizen of another country.

You will discover that your overseas partner is not able to live with you in New Zealand unless they hold a Visa which allows them to do so.

Or, you might be a New Zealand citizen or resident who while in New Zealand have found yourself with a partner who is a citizen of another country. This partner might hold a Student or Essential Skills Work Visa, but not a Residence Visa and so cannot stay in New Zealand permanently.

People usually do not choose a partner based on whether they can get a Visa to be in New Zealand, but can confront this difficulty once a relationship is in place, when a couple determine they want to live together in New Zealand. The process of securing a Visa for a partner to live in New Zealand permanently is often not easy.

A New Zealand citizen or resident can support an overseas partner for the following types of Visa;

  1. Partnership-based Work Visa, where the couple are living together in a genuine and stable relationship. This is a Temporary Visa which allows an overseas partner to live and work in New Zealand in any job. A Partnership-based Work Visa is granted for 12 months. The Visa holder can apply for a further 12 months after the first 12 months.
  2. Partnership-based Residence Visa, where the couple has been living together in a genuine and stable relationship for at least 12 months. This is a Residence Visa which allows an overseas partner to live, work and study in New Zealand permanently, with 2 years of travel conditions. A further application for Permanent Residence is required if the overseas partner is to be able to live, work and study in New Zealand without travel conditions.

Immigration New Zealand will determine whether a couple is living together in a genuine and stable relationship, based on documents presented in paper form. It is uncommon that Immigration will interview a couple in person. Immigration instructions define “living together” as “sharing the same home as partners”, and “genuine and stable partnership” as “genuine, because it has been entered into with the intention being maintained on a long–term and exclusive basis” and “stable, because it is likely to endure”.

In many cases, a partner wanting to apply for Residence in New Zealand, will first need to apply for and be granted a Partnership-based Work Visa, because the processing time for this type of Temporary Visa is much faster than a Partnership-based Residence application. They also need to be on a valid visa the whole time they are in New Zealand, even if a Residence application is already underway.

Sometimes a Partnership-based Visitor Visa must also be applied for too, to give a couple time to live together in New Zealand before applying for a Partnership-based Work Visa and then a Partnership-based Residence Visa in due course.

In some situations there might be a culturally arranged marriage involved, which requires a special type of Visitor Visa be applied for and granted first.

There can be multiple steps involved in a partnership application and the process is often not straightforward. People often don’t realise just how much evidence of the relationship is needed in order to satisfy Immigration that they are really living together, and that they will continue living together for the long haul.

Laurent Law has much experience in handling a range of different situations relating to partnership Visas. If you require assistance with this type of application, phone our office for an appointment so we can discuss further.

Posted in Citizenship, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas | 2 Comments

Migrant Exploitation – a Clear and Present Danger for Employees

 

In the last couple of years – and especially since the Labour Government took office last year – both Immigration New Zealand and the MBIE Labour Inspectorate have upscaled their efforts to find and punish employers who misuse the power imbalance between them and their foreign workers.  Usually the migrants are on Work Visas.

My colleague Peter Moses and I recently prepared and delivered a seminar to the Law Society Employment Law Conference, in which Peter spoke about the ways in which bosses could be prosecuted for various wrongdoing, from employing overstayers to firing staff in an improper way.

Types of Abuse

The worker usually needs the job to keep their visa, and some of them hope to use their employment to get Residence.  This means that they will put up with things that local people would not stand for, including:

  • Working well over the hours they signed up for – 60 or 90 hours a week instead of the 40 hours in their employment agreement;
  • Not being paid the wage they agreed to at the outset;
  • Being required to work weekends and holidays, for fear that they’ll lose the job if they refuse;
  • Getting their agreed wage, but having to pay a large sum back to the employer under the table – this is called “paying a premium”;
  • Providing personal services to the employer without pay, such as cleaning their house after hours.

Some of these stories make it to the media, like the conduct of subcontractors to Chorus; most do not.  In some of the worst cases, staff must give up their passport and their Eftpos card to the employer, and are effectively kept prisoner by being forced to live on the work site.  They submit to this because the employer threatens to go to Immigration and get them deported if they don’t agree.

Lack of Protection

INZ has in the past been criticised for failing to provide real safety for workers who come forward to report the abuse.  As the Government has more recently promised to battle workplace exploitation, you might expect that they would incentivise people to come forward – especially when officials know full well that migrants feel frightened to do this because they believe that it will expose them to being deported.  This becomes a real risk if they had to leave the job recorded on their visa, which means that they have breached their visa conditions.

Immigration Instructions do say that someone who reports exploitation can be considered for a replacement temporary visa.  Unfortunately, the rules are vague about what visa that person could get – will it be a Work Visa allowing them to find a new job, or a Visitor’s Visa which does not permit them to work?  INZ’s own fact page about this topic is imprecise.  This is understandable because the situations that come up will be many and varied, but it still gives little real comfort.

Furthermore, the migrant needs to tie their claim to quite specific acts or omissions for it to be treated as “exploitation” under the law.  These include:

  • failure to pay holiday wages required under the Holidays Act;
  • paying below the minimum wage, which is now $17.25 per hour;
  • paying a premium (see above);
  • actions to prevent the employee from leaving the job or travelling out of New Zealand; or
  • obstructing the employee from finding out about his or her legal rights in NZ.

A non-specific allegation of being badly treated by an employer will not suffice, even if it is genuinely felt by the victim.

In my view, if Immigration and the Labour Inspectorate are committed to stamping out abuse of foreign employees, some iron-cast guarantees of protection, and of outcomes, need to be set out.  For example, INZ’s statement reads:

We’ll let you apply for another visa to stay in New Zealand, even if you have been working on the wrong visa.

Allowing someone to apply does not mean that a visa will actually be given.  Often employees are complicit in the exploitation, out of fear of losing the status which they acquired legitimately.  They face a real risk of being declined their replacement visa and then facing deportation for breach of their last visa.  Even the promise of a new Work Visa, say for 6 months, to allow them to search for another job, would be a significant improvement.

If you, or someone you know, believes that they are being treated badly by an employer in the ways described above, then it may be safest to get professional help to avoid the possible pitfalls to be faced in setting the situation right.

A Warning to Employers

Having said all this, it is apparent that the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has been throwing more resources at exposing employers behaving badly.  The sharp end of this is prosecutions, which can attract fines of tens of thousands of dollars and (in the worst cases) imprisonment for years at a time.  These convictions have started coming through the Courts more regularly in recent years.

More likely, though, is that a company which keeps poor records, employs staff on the wrong visa, or has paid them in breach of their employment agreement or the legislation, could find it very difficult to hire migrant staff in the future.  If they have been penalised by the Employment Relations Authority or Employment Court, then they will be labelled a “non-compliant employer”.  They end up on a list of employers facing stand-down periods from 6 to 24 months, during which they cannot support anyone for a Work Visa.  Businesses on the list range from construction companies to medical centres.

We are called upon to advise employers who have legitimate concerns that they may have fallen foul of the rules.  It is possible to rectify matters proactively, but it must be handled carefully.

Posted in Business, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas, Politics | 1 Comment

Changes to arriving and departing New Zealand

plane

A recent announcement by Immigration New Zealand indicates that Government has determined to introduce an “Electronic Travel Authority” (ETA), for travellers to New Zealand. It is expected this will come into effect for air passengers and crew in the second half of 2019.

At the moment, there are countries whose citizens are able to travel to New Zealand and be granted a three month Visitor Visa on arrival. This is called a “visa waiver”. There are also certain other cases where a visa waiver applies and travellers to New Zealand are not required to first apply for a Visa, including citizens of Australia and those who hold a current Permanent Residence or Residence Visa issued by Australia.

The ETA means that before coming to New Zealand, travellers will need to fill out a form online and pay a fee. This will be similar to the ESTA process that the United States of America has for travellers there.

Immigration New Zealand says that when people don’t have to apply for Visas to travel to New Zealand, they only learn about them when they are on their way to New Zealand. This means INZ is unable to screen travellers in advance for border and immigration risks and have a reduced ability to make entering New Zealand smoother and faster as technology allows. The ETA is therefore considered to be an improvement in process. Australian citizens will be exempt from needing to hold an ETA, but Australian Permanent Residents will need to hold one.

At the same time the fee for the ETA is paid, from the second half of 2019 some travellers will need to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. This too is a new measure announced by Government, for the purpose of ensuring international visitors contribute to the infrastructure they use while in New Zealand and also to help protect the natural environment they enjoy while in New Zealand. Most international visitors entering New Zealand for 12 months or less will need to pay a levy of $35. There will be some exceptions, for Australian citizens and permanent Residents and for people from many Pacific Island countries including Tonga and Samoa.

Furthermore, from November 2018 the Government has determined to do away with departure cards. Travellers leaving New Zealand will no longer need to fill in the cards before flying overseas. No longer having departure cards is indicated to save travellers time, and it is something of an anachronism because few other countries still use them. Relevant details about the travellers will still be able to be collected through other methods.

However there are no plans at the moment to do away with arrival cards, which still capture relevant immigration and biosecurity information.  The arrival card is treated as a de facto visa application.  Thus, for example, the answers which people give to questions on the card can be used against them if they are inconsistent with other information gathered about the person – such as their activities in New Zealand after their arrival.  The classic case is the difficulties encountered by South Africans coming in on “look, see and decide” (LSD) trips

The introduction of the ETA and International Tourist levy may represent a more protective approach being taken by Government in relation to the arrival process in New Zealand. The decision to do away with departure cards may on the other hand be seen as imposing less restriction, however this seems to be on the basis that information collected by these cards can be collected through other methods.

 

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An apple a day…

Depending on the type and duration of the visa you apply for, you may be required to submit information about your health to Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”). Most applicants have no problem meeting INZ’s health criteria. That said, we are often asked to intervene in applications (and appeals) where health is an issue.

Set out below are two case studies which attempt to shed some light on the complex inner workings of INZ’s health requirements as they relate to residence visa applications (only). As will be demonstrated, no two cases are the same when it comes to health issues.

Case Study 1

Applicant A is the adopted child of a New Zealand Resident Visa holder. She is six years old and would like to apply for a Resident Visa under the Dependent Child Category. She was born with cerebral palsy but she lives a relatively independent life and does not require full time care to manage her diagnosis.

Instruction A4.10.1 of the INZ Operational Manual lists conditions deemed to impose significant costs and / or demands on New Zealand’s health and / or education services for Resident Visa applicants. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy is a listed condition. Applicant A does not therefore meet INZ’s health requirements.

The question then becomes, does Applicant A qualify for a Medical Waiver?

Without traversing in detail the complex instructions attached to Medical Waivers, suffice it to say that surprisingly the answer is yes: Applicant A qualifies for a Medical Waiver. Essentially, even though Applicant A’s diagnosed medical condition is technically captured by Instruction A4.10.1, she nevertheless qualifies for a Medical Waiver because:

a) she was born and adopted after her father secured his own Resident Visa;

b) she meets all of the other requirements of the Dependent Child Resident Visa Category;

c) her diagnosis does not require full time care in the community to manage; and

d) she is not caught by the other Medical Waiver exclusion clauses.

As such, Applicant A was granted a Resident Visa – without any restrictive conditions –  and she can live in New Zealand with her father.

Case Study 2

Applicant B is a fully qualified Architect with 6 years of work experience in Belgium. He is 35 years old, single and does not have any dependent children. He applied for a Resident Visa under the Skilled Migrant Category from outside New Zealand; he has never been to this country. He was diagnosed with clinical depression when he was 15 years old. He was hospitalised once for this condition when he was 17 years old. Since that time, Applicant B has managed his mental health diagnosis well, including prescription medication and regular psychotherapy sessions.

“Major psychiatric illness and / or addiction including any psychiatric condition that has required hospitalisation and / or where significant support is required” is listed at Instruction A4.10.1.

Two questions come to mind regarding Applicant B’s ability to meet INZ’s health requirements:

a) Is he captured by Instruction A4.10.1, given that his condition appears to be on the lower end of the scale and well managed?

b) If he is captured by Instruction A4.10.1, does Applicant B qualify for a Medical Waiver?

The answer to first question will arguably depend on the specialist medical reports he provides INZ from his treating Psychotherapist, and, INZ’s Medical Assessor’s opinion. Factors that could be relevant include the duration of time that has passed since he was hospitalised for clinical depression, the triggering event requiring hospitalisation, and his current management plan. Unfortunately for Applicant B, INZ determined that his condition was captured by Instruction A4.10.1 because he had previously been hospitalised for clinical depression, and as such that he did not have an acceptable standard of health.

Applicant B was provided with the opportunity to seek a Medical Waiver pursuant to Instruction A4.70. He submitted documents and a cover letter outlining the reasons why he believed he should be granted a Medical Waiver, including:

a) the current skilled nature of his job offer as an Architect (Skill Level 1, ANZSCO Unit Group 232111);

b) the skilled nature of his work experience in a comparable labour market to New Zealand;

c) his condition being well-managed (including a positive medical report from his Psychotherapist); and

d) he has the resources to pay for his ongoing medical needs himself, given his high-paying job offer from a well-respected Architecture firm in Wellington.

Weighing and balancing all of these factors, INZ ultimately declined to grant a Medical Waiver to Applicant B, its reasons including a finding that he had a mental health condition which would require long-term medical care to manage. This concern was not outweighed by the potential benefits he could bring to New Zealand through his skills and expertise as an Architect. That he could pay for his health needs himself was in fact irrelevant to the Medical Waiver assessment. It probably also didn’t help his case that Applicant B had no ties to New Zealand, having never stepped foot in the country.

As a result, his application for a Resident Visa was declined.

Final thoughts

As has been demonstrated above, each case really does turn on its own facts. This can sometimes make it difficult to predict the decision INZ will ultimately make in an application where there are serious health issues. We find that sometimes we win the cases we expect to lose, and lose the cases we are sure will succeed. Alas, this area of Immigration Law is not an exact science. Therefore, it is wise to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer or adviser if you or your family have a medical issue that could be potentially problematic. Ideally you should do so before you even make a visa application so that you can better understand the risks involved and the potential outcome.

Disclaimer: The case studies are abstract examples only and do not relate to real persons. They are based on policy interpretation (in terms of potential visa outcomes) as well as prior experience working in this field.

Posted in Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas, Practice of Law | 1 Comment

Can I vary the conditions of my work visa?

16aac63d7b1a99a9ada8d81676130f3a3b3a4b929a6170ddc96c46cec3709ff2Photo: DPA

If you hold a work visa that has conditions that only allow you to work for Company A (employer), in Location B (place of employment) and as Job C (occupation), then you may in certain instances have to vary the conditions of your work visa. Here are a few helpful pointers that you can consider before determining whether to seek a variation or apply for a new work visa.

Length of your visa

If you have 6 months or less left on your visa, you should submit a new work visa application.

According to the INZ website, current processing times for Variation of Conditions (“VOC”) application can vary from 32 to 56 calendar days and work visa applications can vary from 27 to 80 calendar days. This means, even if your VOC application is successful and your visa conditions are varied, before you know it, you will end up having to file a new work visa application to continue your employment. Hence filing a VOC application would be pointless.

Types of work visas and requirements

If you have more than 6 months left on your work visa, then you can consider applying for a VOC. You must however understand that different rules apply to different types of work visas so it may be best to check the requirements first to determine whether you can get a VOC.

  • Essential Skills Work Visa

    • If you wish to change your occupation or place of employment, your new occupation must be listed on the Essential Skills in Demand List (“List”) and you must meet the requirements for that occupation specified on that List.
    • If you wish to change your employer only, your new job with the new employer must meet the requirements that apply to the Essential Skills Work Visa category.
    • But, a VOC may not be granted if you seek to change employment to a skill-band lower than your current employment (e.g. from high-skilled to mid-skilled)
  • Post-Study Work Visa – Employer Assisted

    • Two different rules apply due to the recent changes to the post-study work visa category:
      • Pre-26 November 2018: a VOC may be granted if your new job meets the requirements of a Post-Study Work Visa – Employer Assisted policy
      • Post-26 November 2018: You can submit a VOC application and pay an application fee to INZ to get your visa conditions removed.
  • Specific Purpose or Event Visa (for players and sports coaches only)

    • If you wish to take up additional employment, a VOC may only be granted if:
      • the terms of the existing employment have and will continue to be met; and
      • either the additional employment is offered:
        • by a sports club or a company involved in the sport and the position is offered solely to you as the player or coach; or alternatively
        • by an employer other than the sports club or a company involved in the sport and INZ is satisfied that there are no New Zealanders available to be employed in the position.
  • Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Visa

    • VOC may be granted if you wish to:
      • take up another job offer to work for another accredited employer; or
      • take up another job offer to work for a non-accredited employer if your current employment with the accredited employer is no longer available due to reasons beyond your control (INZ will consider the circumstances which led to this situation)

Additionally, you must have been offered the base salary that was required at the time the initial Talent Work Visa was made, or above; and the new job offer and the new employer must meet the requirements that apply to Talent Work Visas.

If you ultimately discover that you cannot get your work visa conditions varied, you must apply for a new work visa before starting work in a new role.

We are often asked to help people who have started a new job which does not match the conditions printed on their present visa.  They run the real risk of being refused a new visa because they have breached the conditions of the visa that they currently have.  They also expose the employer to potential prosecution for letting someone work for them who does not have the right visa.

These can be delicate situations.  If you, or someone you know, might face this sort of problem, they should consider getting professional help to sort it out – and do so quickly.

Posted in Business, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas | Tagged | Leave a comment