Visas, Permits and Immigration


New Zealand makes visas more flexible for Canterbury rebuild workers

by Ray Clancy on May 18, 2015

New Zealand has announced changes to immigration policy which will make it easier to recruit and retain international workers for the Canterbury rebuild.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates that an additional 5000 construction workers will be needed between December 2014 and the peak of the rebuild in December 2016.

new zealand immigration

An additional 5000 construction workers will be needed between December 2014 and December 2016

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said that while the government is committed to ensuring New Zealanders are at the front of the queue for jobs in the rebuild, there is no doubt that migrant workers have, and will continue to play an important role in meeting the demand for labour.

‘Supporting the Canterbury rebuild is one of the Government’s four main priorities and we need to remove barriers to employers recruiting migrant workers when New Zealanders are not available to do the work,’ he explained.

He announced that the Government has agreed on three immigration policy changes to streamline visa processes and increase labour market flexibility in Canterbury, while reducing the exploitation of migrant workers.

The changes will extend the maximum duration of Essential Skills visas for lower skilled occupations from one year to three years for applications received between July 2015 and December 2016.

They will allow holders of Essential Skills visas, issued from 01 July and working in Canterbury, to change employers within the same occupation without having to go through the process of applying for a Variation of Conditions on their visa.

The plans will also see the introduction of an accreditation scheme for labour hire companies that recruit and employ migrant workers on Essential Skills visas for work in the construction sector in Canterbury.

‘Employers who want to retain good migrant workers for lower-skilled jobs will no longer have to go through the uncertainty of applying annually to renew their visa, and migrant workers will have the flexibility to move between jobs more easily,’ said Woodhouse.

‘These changes will also help reduce occurrences of migrant exploitation by ensuring that labour hire companies seeking accreditation will have to prove they have a demonstrable commitment to training and employing New Zealanders and good workplace practices,’ he added.

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