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October 2023 immigration update

Working In provides an immigration update.

The Government has just announced further changes to the immigration system to increase protection and support for migrant workers. Whilst these initiatives have arisen to help prevent exploitation, they will mean extra obligations and requirements for employers and should not be ignored.

Below is a quick summary outlining the latest updates.

What are the updates and how will they impact employers?
90-day trial period to be abolished.
The 90-day trial period is to be removed for those employed on an Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV) moving forward. The decision aims to protect new arrivals from early dismissal whilst still settling into New Zealand life. A 90-day trial will still apply for those who already hold an AEWV, or those who have already applied for an AEWV. Probationary periods are still allowable.

Job Checks must not include a trial period
From late October 2023, any new ‘Job Check’ must not include an employment agreement with a trial period. The update will not apply if a Job Check has already been approved but a Job Check that is under assessment will be declined if it includes a trial period (regardless of the submission date), or Immigration New Zealand may request updated information. Breaches of this standard could lead to loss of accreditation.

Financial assistance for those on an MEPV
Short-term, basic financial support and job search assistance will now be available to those on the Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV).

MEPV extensions
An option has been introduced for MEPV holders to apply for a second MEPV if they need more time to search for a job.

There are requirements you need to meet in this ever-changing landscape, or you could risk being unable to hire or retain the talent you need for your business.

If you have any current Job Checks underway or are looking to hire and want to ensure a smooth successful process, don't leave it to chance. We can help you get prepared.

Cyclone Gabrielle Response Recovery Visa 
As of 23 September 2023, this category is closed to new applicants. 
Anyone that is already on a Recovery Visa however can apply for a 3-month extension. This allows them additional time to transition to longer term work visas if necessary. Get in touch with our team as we can advise what work visa best suits.

New Roles to be added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement 
The government has announced that new roles will be added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement from early 2024:

  • Driller’s Assistant  
  • Earthmoving Labourer  
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General)  
  • Linemarker  
  • Machine Operators n.e.c  
  • Mechanic’s Assistant   
  • Road Traffic Controller

Currently, roles under this Sector Agreement are covered by a median wage exemption.

Increase in cap for the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme 
The current cap for the RSE scheme is increasing by 500 to 19,500 for the 2023/2024 season.
This means more workers from the participating Pacific countries will be able to come to New Zealand to supplement the workforce in the horticultural and wine sectors.

Legislative changes to the out-of-hours compliance visits 
An update in the Immigration Act 2009 means that a judicial warrant will need to be sought for out-of-hours compliance visits by MBIE. Operational recommendations have been made and MBIE is in the process of implementing these. 
Legislative changes are continued being worked on and a standalone bill will be passed as soon as possible in the next term.