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Recently the government announced a number of changes to the rules for people applying for skilled migrant visas, effective 14 August 2017. The change predicted to have the biggest impact is the increase in the ‘remuneration threshold’. Applicants who will earn less than the median New Zealand income of $48,859 won’t get any points, even if their job was previously considered as skilled. It will also become harder for their families to relocate to New Zealand with them.

Although your current employees already on a skilled migrant visa will not be immediately impacted, when it is time to apply for a new work visa they will need to meet the new remuneration threshold to be successful. It is also important to note that people applying for a temporary “Essential Skills” work visa can earn less than the $48,859 threshold, but only for a maximum of three years. After this, they will need to ‘stand-down’ and re-apply.

With the recent changes, you may be wondering what can you do to help prospective employees navigate the visa application process? As an employer, you can:

  • Work with a licenced immigration advisor
  • Only provide information that comes directly from the Immigration NZ visa form
  • Direct them to the Immigration NZ website so they can complete the application themselves

You cannot:

  • Give any form of immigration advice, including advising on what type of visa to apply for or what they might qualify for
  • Give guidance on how best to answer questions on the form
  • Represent them to Immigration NZ

Remember the importance of doing your due diligence when hiring someone who already holds a valid work visa.

We recommend you always ask to view and also take a copy of an applicant’s passport and work visa. This allows you to check when the work visa expires and any restrictions that may apply. It is your responsibility as the employer to ensure that they can legally work for you. The maximum penalty for unknowingly employing someone who is not entitled to work in NZ is a fine of $10K. The maximum penalty for allowing or continuing to allow someone to work while knowing that person is not entitled to, is a fine of $50K.

How we can help

It’s likely that, as a result of the recent policy changes, employers will be increasingly interested in becoming accredited by Immigration NZ. The accreditation process involves collating your organisation’s HR information, and often requires background HR work to support and strengthen the application. Positive People can assist with this. We can also put you in touch with licenced immigration consultants and offshore recruitment experts.


Contact us today to discuss your needs.