The hospitality and rural sectors on New Zealand’s South Island could among the key beneficiaries of NZ’s recently announced changes to immigration policy.
The change will benefit thousands of migrant workers and their families who have been living in the South Island for more than five years but have not been able to qualify for residency under the Skilled Migrant Category.
To qualify under the new policy, candidates must meet the eligibility criteria. This includes being 55 years of age or younger and meeting health and character requirements. People must also be currently employed in the South Island on an Essential Skills work visa, and have been employed in the South Island on Essential Skills work visas for more than five years. If candidates fall marginally short of the five-year requirement, Immigration New Zealand may consider granting a visa as an exception.
Lane Neave Immigration Partner, Mark Williams, said the new immigration policy is a massive win for employers and migrant employees in the South Island.
“This is a great policy to transition long term work visa holders who really should be entitled to a resident visa,” said Williams. “The new policy recognises the contribution migrants have made to the New Zealand economy, assists their employers with longer term retention, and at the same time allows for a conversion to residency following two years on this visa.”
She continued: “The new policy will also allow the visa holder’s partner and dependent children under 20 years of age to be included in the application and enjoy benefits of living in New Zealand, such as tertiary education, on a similar basis as many of their Kiwi friends they have grown up with in New Zealand for many years.
“This will have a positive impact on migrant workers from a range of occupations, in particular, chefs and other hospitality workers who have committed to their local communities for a number of years without the security of an ability to qualify for a resident visa because of the English language requirement under the Skilled Migrant Category.
“It is also a one-off pathway to residence for a lot of low or mid-level skilled temporary migrants such as hard working farm and trade workers in the South Island. They have made a massive contribution to the South Island, especially the rural sector, and are deservedly being recognised for that contribution.”
Article published 23rd May 2017