New Zealand will implement a handful of changes to the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa program on Oct. 7. These are the first of a series of changes expected to occur over the next 18 months, with a new employer-led temporary work visa program to be introduced in 2021.

The Oct. 7 changes include:

  • Increasing the minimum salary for Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa holders from NZ$55,000 to NZ$79,560 (about US$50,333).
  • Eliminating the option of obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa for Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa applicants who earn above NZ$90,000.
  • Limiting the duration of accreditation for employers to 24 months.

While the finer details of the 2021 changes are not yet available, Immigration New Zealand has published an overview on its website. Over the next 18 months, INZ states that it will:

  • Introduce a new three-step employer-led visa application process that will require employers to be newly accredited under the new system.
  • Introduce a new temporary work visa to replace six current temporary work visas—the Essential Skills Work Visa, the Essential Skills Work Visa (approved in principle), the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa, the Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa, the Silver Fern Job Search Visa, and the Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.
  • Strengthen labor market testing for lower paid jobs.
  • Open up access to higher paid jobs in rural areas and jobs requiring skills in demand in city areas.
  • Introduce sector-specific agreements for industries that regularly rely on foreign workers.
  • Reinstate the ability of lower-paid workers to bring dependent family members to New Zealand.

INZ has stressed that a number of rules will not change. For example, lower-skilled foreign workers will still be required to leave New Zealand for at least one year after working for three years in the country. The new visa program will also still impose visa conditions relating to the visa holder’s employer, job and work location, with a variation of conditions application to be submitted to INZ when changes to these arrangements are required.

Analysis & Comments: The Oct. 7 changes will, in some cases, make it more difficult to sponsor foreign workers on a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa. Employers should note that the current, more favorable, rules will continue to apply to applications that are lodged between now and Oct. 7. Note also that employees already holding Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visas are not impacted by the changes, their visa validity, visa conditions and visa options will be maintained.

While detailed information about the 2021 changes has not been released, Deloitte will continue to follow any key developments and will provide updates to clients as the information becomes available.

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