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Will Skilled Migration Visa Changes Affect Tourism This Winter?

Published June 13, 2017 (last updated June 30, 2023) - NZ Operations Manager

Statistics NZ has outlined that in the April 2017 year, a record 3.6 million visitors arrived in New Zealand with migrant arrivals numbered 129,800 in the April 2017 year, a new annual record. With most visitors arriving in either peak summer or winter, traditionally it’s been migrant workers stepping in to fill the employment shortage. However, recent changes to the laws surrounding skilled migration visas have placed increased scrutiny on hiring migrants and employees should tread carefully.

When employing migrants, what should employers be on the lookout for?

Any increased economic activity of more people in the country is being counteracted with the recent changes to the laws around skilled migration visas and the difficulty of employers to find skilled labour. This belief is being reinforced by the cry from some business groups of the need for more skilled staff. The recent changes include increased remuneration thresholds for the Skilled Migrant category visa, which could affect businesses which employ staff under this visa category.

The public debate about what immigration will do for New Zealand will continue, but employers may be caught in a trap. Any changes are likely to be quick, and can impact workplaces of any size in any industry. It is a requirement on the employer to be sure a prospective employee is entitled to work in New Zealand, therefore taking copies of visas and work permits upon hiring the candidate is best practice. To make this easier, visit VisaView which is a free website enabling employers to check the visa status of any potential employees.

In horticulture and viticulture industries there is a special scheme, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, which enables these industries to recruit a workforce as needed. Where an employer may struggle to find enough workers for harvest and crop picking, they may find employees from selected countries under this scheme. An employer will need to apply to be eligible for this scheme and employees under this scheme are entitled to all the minimum standards of employment, including adult minimum wage. Other options to help Employers with high volume recruitment include the Approval in Principle scheme, allowing employers to have an easier application process for supporting employees under the Essential Skills visa category, making recruitment planning easier.

Changes to skilled migration and the use of migrants to plug holes in the workforce can be effective if done properly. However, employers need to ensure they comply with basic entitlements and also that the employee has the right to work in New Zealand in the first place.

For peace of mind in workplace relations contact the Employsure Advice line on 0800 568 012.

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Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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