Important change to Queenstown visa policy

Immigration

Immigration New Zealand has made a change to its processes in Queenstown. It has temporarily removed the requirement for a labour market test for some work visa applicants.

As mentioned in our recent newsletter, many Queenstown employers and their employees are frustrated by the work visa process in Queenstown. However, there is some good news.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has listened and has made a change to its processes. It has temporarily removed the requirement for a labour market test for some work visa applicants.

What is the change?

INZ has temporarily waived the requirement for employers to prove that New Zealanders are not available or readily trainable for certain jobs within the Queenstown region. 

The change came into effect on 19 February 2015. It will be in place until 30 June 2015.

Does the waiver apply to every visa applicant?

No. The change only applies to applicants whose jobs are at skill level 1, 2 or 3 on the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) list, or whose jobs are included within the Ministry of Social Development’s Queenstown 2014/15 Labour Market Check exemption list. 

ANZSCO descriptions can be searched here.  Each ANZSCO description confirms the relevant job’s skill level.

The Ministry of Social Development’s exemption list can be found here.

The job must also be within the Queenstown region.  The job is deemed to be within the Queenstown region if the principle place of work is within the territorial authority of the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

What if the job doesn’t meet those two conditions?

If the job is at skill level 4 or 5 on the ANZSCO and is not included in the Labour Market Check exemption list, then the employer must show that it has genuinely tried to find a New Zealander for the job, but that none are available or readily trainable.

In most cases, this will mean that the employer needs to work with WINZ to advertise the job. WINZ will provide the employer with a letter confirming whether or not the vacancy can be filled, and this letter should be included with the work visa application. However, as long as the job is within the Queenstown region, the employer is not required to advertise nationally.

If the job is not within the Queenstown region, then full labour market testing must be undertaken. This means advertising the position nationally as well as working with WINZ.

Does the applicant need to meet other visa requirements?

Yes, it is important to remember that all other visa requirements still apply.

This means that employees must meet the health requirements for the grant of a visa. Therefore, an employee may need to have medical certificates completed to submit with the application. .

Employees also need to meet good character requirements which means an employee may need to obtain police clearance certificates to submit with his or her visa application.

Finally, an employee must still prove that he or she has the necessary work experience or qualification to do the job in question. Exactly what work experience or qualifications he or she needs to prove will depend on the ANZSCO that most closely matches his or her job.

Will the waiver continue after 30 June 2015?

There is no news from INZ as yet about if the waiver will continue after 30 June 2015.At this stage, the waiver is a one-off temporary change to the policy. 

Therefore, if you need to renew a work visa, now is the time to do it.  We would be delighted to help in any way we can, so please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Team.

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