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work in new zealand


New wage rates may impact work visas

Auckland-based immigration lawyer, Aaron Martin, believes that the government’s decision to increase the minimum wage could impact the eligibility of migrant workers for work and residence visas.

The New Zealand Government has lifted the minimum wage to $18.90 per hour effective April 2020 – before raising it to a $20 minimum wage by 2021.

Around a quarter of million workers will be better off next year, thanks to another $1.20 an hour increase to the minimum wage, the biggest equal lift ever,” says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

The government estimates 242,000 workers will benefit, which includes people working on $17.70 and between $17.70 and $18.90 an hour.

The new rate will put an extra $48 per week before tax in the hands of employees currently on minimum wage for 40 hours a week.

The government derives its confidence in raising the minimum wage from a low unemployment rate at 4.2 per cent, with a prediction to add 43,600 jobs in 2020, and New Zealand economy growing at a faster rate than other OECD nations, including Australia, Canada, the USA and European countries. The rise in minimum wage is estimated to boost wages by $306 million annually.

“We’re implementing a balanced approach to the minimum wage increases and have provided certainty to businesses who told us they wanted to know how much the minimum wage will increase and when the changes were going to happen,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

The starting out and training wages will also see a boost, with a rise to $15.12 per hour from 1 April 2020, remaining at 80% of the adult minimum wage.  

At the same time, migrants whose pay packet is not at the required threshold will either end up with a 1-year work visa (as opposed to 3-year visa) or be rendered ineligible for residence on 24 February 2020, says Auckland-based immigration lawyer, Aaron Martin

“Imagine a stonemason on an essential skills work visa who earns $21.25 per hour. On 23 February their job would be classified as mid-skilled and they would be granted a 3-year work visa. One day later their job will be classified as low-skilled because of their pay rate.

‘Or, imagine a carpenter who earns $25 per hour and is seeking a residence visa. On 23 February they are eligible for residence; on 24 February they won’t be.

“To still qualify for a visa under the new thresholds, these migrants on the cusp will need a pay increase of 2%. This may seem like only a small increase. But for an employer, a pay increase is not a quick and easy decision. Incremental increases can add up to make it unfeasible to employ a migrant.

“Pay rate is a factor outside the control of most migrants. These threshold changes disempower them from being able to secure a visa on a long-term basis with a view to making a commitment to our country.

Implications for the aged-care industry

Immigrants on visas make up a third of New Zealand’s 22,000 aged-care caregivers and 5000 nurses.

Aaron points out that the government recently granted a small window to the aged-care sector reclassifying some of their jobs as skilled employment. “Workers in the industry have also fought hard to get wages up to the $25 an hour benchmark for residence eligibility. This move will set the sector back again.

“Many migrant nurses and caregivers must now be reconsidering whether to stay in New Zealand.

Why now?
Employers in many industries say they would struggle without a supply of overseas workers.

The immigration system automatically adjusts wage levels as a result of annual review, say Aaron. “But continually placing the goal of residence out of reach leaves people disheartened and wondering whether there are greener fields elsewhere. In a globally competitive market for skills, New Zealand runs the risk of losing to the competition.

“Our immigration system is already under pressure from a large number of applications, and New Zealand is looking like an uncertain place to get residency.

Proposed work and residence visa payrate changes effective 24 February 2020

The new thresholds are based on the New Zealand median salary and wage rate of $25.50 per hour (up 2% from last year), equivalent to $53,040 per annum for a 40-hour per week job.

Skilled Migrant Category

1.       The threshold for gaining skilled employment points will change from $25.00 to $25.50 per hour for jobs at ANZSCO skill level 1,2, or 3, and jobs at skill level 4 or 5 that are included at Appendix 7 of the operational manual.

2.       The threshold for gaining skilled employment points will be $38.25 per hour for jobs at ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 that are not included at Appendix 7 of the operational manual.

3.       The threshold for bonus points for high remuneration will be $51 per hour.

 Essential Skills Visa

1.       The threshold for mid-skilled employment will change from $21.25 to $21.68 per hour for jobs at ANZSCO skill level 1,2, or 3.

2.       The threshold for mid-skilled employment will be $25.50 per hour for jobs at ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 in Appendix 7 (This visa was treated as an exception due to changes made at the end of October.)

The threshold for higher skilled employment for all other skill level 4 and 5 roles will change from $ 37.50 to $38.25 per hour

Immigration News Work Abroad

NZ moves to ‘online’ only submission for Working Holiday

Work Visa New Zealand


From 18 April 2014, New Zealand Immigration has stopped accepting physical submission for Working Holiday Schemes.

“A change to immigration regulations means that all working holiday scheme (WHSs) applications must be submitted using the online application system,” says a statement issued by the immigration authority.

“Any manual applications received will be returned to the applicant.”

If you are considering applying under a WHS, you should apply using the online system for Working Holiday Scheme for New Zealand.

However, for the United Kingdom working holidaymakers who are in New Zealand on a 12-month visa, and want to lodge an application for the balance of the 23 months will be allowed to submit manual application. This second application must be lodged manually.

Immigration News Work Abroad

Highly skilled jobs grow in NZ

jobs in auckland

About jobs in New Zealand, there’s some good news. While the unemployment rate continues to remain high, those employed are working in highly-skilled jobs. There are more highly-skilled jobs and fewer lower-skills jobs than three years ago.

More New Zealand employees are working in highly skilled jobs than in any other type of work, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The Household Labour Force Survey information shows that over one-third of staff in the December 2012 quarter were in jobs categorised into the top of five skill groupings. That compares to one in six people in the lowest skilled grouping.

highly skilled jobs in Auckland

Skill composition also differs by ethnic group. Almost half of European and Asian people work in highly skilled (managerial and professional) jobs, while over half of Māori and Pacific peoples work low skilled jobs.

Even young workers are in good jobs. The jobs done by employed teenagers moved from lower skilled to highly skilled as they become young adults.

The number of people in highly skilled jobs increased by 60,000 since 2009, mainly due to growth in the number of jobs in the health, professional, and agricultural industries.

The number of people working in highly skilled jobs differs by age and ethnicity, but that men and women work equally in both the most highly skilled jobs.

Economic News also explores New Zealand’s direct investment relationship with Australia, and the effects that the global financial crisis had on whether companies chose to reinvest their profits, or return them to their overseas parent companies as dividends.

The report looks at how company behaviour differs between the banking and corporate sectors, and how this has changed over time.

Australian-owned banks, for example, reinvested most of their profits back in to New Zealand during 2011 and 2012, while corporates returned most of their profits to their parent companies in Australia as dividends.

New Zealand earns less from its investments abroad than the rest of the world earns from its investment in New Zealand. Much of this investment income is attributable to Australia, as it is New Zealand’s largest investment partner for both inward and outward investment.

Stocks of Australian investment made up 56% of total foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks in New Zealand as at 31 March 2012.

One concerning fact emerged about Australian companies operating in New Zealand. In the years ended March 2009, 2011 and 2012, more dividends were paid out to shareholders than the actual profits generated. This means that Australian corporates didn’t reinvest any profits in New Zealand for those years.

Read: Skill levels of New Zealand jobs

Immigration News Study Abroad

Job course launched for international students

student visa new zealand

International students in New Zealand can now benefit from a programme aimed at assisting them in their search for skilled employment positions.

The Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) has launched a seven-week employment support programme for international students.

Barbra Estall, an international student, who will be graduating this July with a bachelor’s degree in interpreting, believes that targeted job search skills and NZ workplace knowledge are vital for her career prospects.

student visa new zealand

“The work culture in New Zealand is very different from Tahiti,” says Barbra. “Back home, you can get into full employment without any work experience. Over here, job search knowledge and work experience count much more. As a student, I am not aware of what is required in this country – interview skills, work place communication, CV and cover letter writing – when applying for jobs.”

New Zealand approved 68,980 student visas last year, according to figures released by Immigration New Zealand.  Students who complete at least a two-year New Zealand qualification can apply for a graduate job search visa to help them transit from study to work and then to residency.

“There is a clear gap in employment preparation and support for many international students, wishing to apply their higher learning in skilled employment,” says Dr Mary Dawson, ARMS Chief Executive.

The ARMS Certificate in Employment Search and Work Preparation consists of seven units delivered in three hour sessions. Four of the units are specifically designed to enhance the communication skills of the students as they relate to job searching and employment. There are places still available for the first course, starting Friday May 3rd. The cost is $160 per participant.

Study in New Zealand