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May Update 2019

Net migration continues to rise and while the Labour lead coalition government promised immigration reforms these have yet to eventuate other than the reduction of work rights for students undertaking lower level courses and other minor alterations. Student work rights for those with higher courses of study on the other hand are now more flexible allowing post study work for any employer.

Consultation has taken place on work visa changes and signals to the industry indicate further restrictions on employers. While the need to reduce migrant exploitation and employ New Zealanders first is a must my concern is the reforms with the proposed settings could create unreasonable barriers for employers.  The very sector who create our wealth and keep the economy operating.

It is interesting that across the Tasman the Australian Federal Government is paying for TV advertisements in the UK, France and German to encourage backpackers to work in Australia reports Kelsey Wilkie of the Daily Mail Australia on the 21 April 2019.

Young people, often referred to as backpackers, from a number of countries have access to working holiday programs which provide an additional source of labour and talents particularly for seasonal industries and for remote locations.  They not only fill vacancies, they are cultural ambassadors and generally spend their earnings in the country. A number work in their professions while others undertake temporary work while exploring and generally enjoying a laid-back lifestyle.

Working Holiday Visas are not linked to a job offer rather they allow employment at will although a few have a limitation of three months for any one employer.  Each program is a little different from the other as these are decided on a Government to Government bases reflecting what young New Zealanders are able to do in the recipient country. Participants are mostly aged between 18 to 30 years of age and are able to stay for one year although a couple of programs have the extended age rangeto 35 years old and duration to 23 months.

The New Zealand Ministry of Social Development recently had to extend the seasonal labour shortage in Hawke’s Bay and declared a shortage in Bay of Plenty to supplement the working holiday people as local labour was not available in sufficient numbers.

I hear much about labour shortages with employers unable to recruit workers who are physically fit and able to do a full day.  Unemployment numbers are low and after subtracting those who aren’t up to physical work or who don’t live in the area results in a small labour pool.

I welcomed the special visa, Christchurch Response (2019), which was introduced and allow people present at either Christchurch mosques during the 15 March attack, on student and work visas and their family, to apply for residence.

Well measured Immigration Instructions are compassionate, easy to interpret and focus on the results which best service New Zealand.

Disclaimer: Mary Noonan is Heartland Immigration Ltd Managing Director and her views, expressed in this article, are not intended to replace the professional service provided to individual migrants by a Licensed Immigration Adviser.

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