Changes To Talent Visa Requirements

September 17, 2019
Iain MacLeod

Right about now keyboard warriors across Facebook, Twitter, migrant chat group and forums will be lighting up with the news that the Government is making a significant change to accredited employer/talent visa policy on or about 7 October. Teeth will be gnashing. Uninformed opinions will be flying. No doubt the ‘media headlines will scream ‘Government making it tougher for migrant workers to secure work visas’ (Government loves those sorts of headlines even when it isn’t true).

Government isn’t doing that. They are simply bringing Talent Visa workers income into better alignment with the changes they made to Essential Skills Work Visas (the bog-standard work visas most people hold on their way to a resident visa). This is long overdue. I suspect there is some truth to this change also pushing most short term skilled workers back into the Essential Skills Work Visa stream.

Note the ‘on or about October 7’. From that date applicants seeking Talent Visas under the Work to Residence pathway with an accredited employer will be required to earn $79,560 (gross). It is currently $55,000.

None of this is news – or shouldn’t be. This has been in the offing for many months. I wrote almost a year ago this increase was coming. It was the quantum that has surprised on the ‘upside’. In the guessing game that can be immigration policy changes my pick was high $60,000s or low $70,000s.

None of this should be confused with the ongoing work (currently under ‘design’) being done whereby all employers to become ‘accredited’ before they can support Essential Skills Work Visa applications.

This new policy was meant to be rolled out around now but I suspect the powers that be have realised a good idea and one that can be operationalized are two different things. Under the proposed new (in 2021) work visa rules there will be three steps for an applicant seeking a temporary work visa in NZ:

  1. Employer becoming accredited (or whatever they choose to call it)
  2. Employer proving a genuine attempt to recruit locally (same as now)
  3. The applicant proving they are qualified by experience and training to do the job (same as now)

The short lead-in time to the new salary threshold for accredited employers will be to stop the predictable rush of applications.

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