Tem­po­rary visa op­tions for sea­sonal work­ers

Pukekohe veg­etable grow­ers who have had prob­lems filling trac­tor and har­vester op­er­a­tor po­si­tions were brought up-to­date with a New Zealand Im­mi­gra­tion pre­sen­ta­tion on tem­po­rary visa op­tions for sea­sonal work­ers in late Oc­to­ber.

NZ Grower - - NEWS - By Glenys Chris­tian

Diana Lough­nan, re­la­tion­ship man­ager, Paci­fica labour and skills, told grow­ers there could be sea­sonal work prob­lems from Novem­ber to March with no New Zealan­ders be­ing avail­able, pres­sure on in­dus­tries to fill these po­si­tions ev­ery year and as a re­sult a lack of skills re­ten­tion.

Spe­cialised har­vester and trac­tor op­er­a­tors who may need to be reg­is­tered or li­censed are clas­si­fied as skill level 4.There are five dif­fer­ent visa op­tions for them com­ing from over­seas to New Zealand to work which are:

• The es­sen­tial skills visa

• Ap­proval in prin­ci­ple (AIP)

• Work­ing hol­i­days

• Work ex­change schemes and

• A fu­ture sea­sonal visa pol­icy.

The first, the es­sen­tial skills visa, is a work visa for ap­pli­cants with job of­fers. Their em­ploy­ers must demon­strate there are no NZ cit­i­zens or res­i­dents avail­able for the work, and must of­fer a min­i­mum of 30 hours work per week. They must pay at least the labour mar­ket rate and need to com­ply with em­ploy­ment law, pro­vide a full em­ploy­ment con­tract and be fi­nan­cially sound. To demon­strate there are no suit­able lo­cal peo­ple avail­able for their work they need to show ev­i­dence of gen­uine at­tempts to re­cruit New Zealan­ders with a skill match re­port from Work and In­come re­quired for all level 4 and 5 roles.

There are three dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories for es­sen­tial skills with the first be­ing lower-skilled em­ploy­ment, earn­ing less than $19.97 an hour or in the ANZSCO 4-5 class up to $35.24 an hour. Ap­pli­cants here can only get one-year visa for three years then have to spend a year out­side NZ. They are not al­lowed to bring their fam­ily with them.

For mid-skilled em­ploy­ment ap­pli­cants can get a visa for three years with no max­i­mum pe­riod be­ing spec­i­fied, and they are al­lowed to bring their fam­ily. In the ANZSCO 1-3 cat­e­gory pay rates are de­fined as be­ing from $19.97 to $35.24 an hour. For higher-skilled em­ploy­ment, where work­ers are earn­ing over $35.25 an hour, there’s a pe­riod of a max­i­mum of five years for each visa.

Lough­nan said trac­tor and har­vester op­er­a­tors were not cur­rently on the long-term skills short­age list (LTSSL) or Im­me­di­ate Skills Short­age List (ISSL). In order for the oc­cu­pa­tion of trac­tor op­er­a­tor/har­vest op­er­a­tor to be in­cluded the in­dus­try needed to be car­ry­ing out more fore­cast­ing. Fifty or more work visas needed to be re­quired ev­ery year and an NZ qual­i­fi­ca­tion at Level 4 or more might be re­quired.

With the Ap­proval in Prin­ci­ple (AIP) schemes em­ploy­ers needed to estab­lish whether they had mul­ti­ple va­can­cies to make ap­ply­ing for an AIP worth­while, given it al­lows an em­ployer to make a case once for need­ing to re­cruit a va­cancy, this would then al­low mul­ti­ple visa ap­pli­ca­tions with­out labour mar­ket checks.

With the UK work­ing hol­i­day scheme to be el­i­gi­ble ap­pli­cants needed to be Bri­tish cit­i­zens, nor­mally res­i­dent in the UK. They needed to have a min­i­mum of $350 a month of avail­able funds avail­able dur­ing their stay in NZ and be be­tween the ages of 18 and 30. Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants would be granted a visa al­low­ing them to stay in NZ for a max­i­mum of 23 months dur­ing which they car­ried out 12 months of work. They can ap­ply for 23 months up­front but would then need to pro­vide full med­i­cal cer­tifi­cates. With the Ire­land work­ing hol­i­day scheme ap­pli­cants needed to be Ir­ish cit­i­zens, have a min­i­mum of $4200 avail­able dur­ing their stay and also meet some ad­di­tional re­quire­ments. If suc­cess­ful they would be granted a 12-month work visa once they ar­rived in NZ or the same pe­riod of time from the is­sue date if they were al­ready in this coun­try.

For other work ex­change schemes ap­pli­cants needed to be be­tween 18 and 35, and be off­shore when they ap­plied. One thou­sand places were avail­able ev­ery year with 450 un­der BUNAC, the UK agency which han­dles the ap­pli­ca­tions. They can be for any job and would still ap­ply if the per­son had al­ready had a work­ing hol­i­day here. Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants needed $4200 of funds avail­able when they ap­plied and an­other $200 when they landed.

When it came to fu­ture sea­sonal work pol­icy Lough­nan said this was part of the es­sen­tial skills re­view look­ing to fa­cil­i­tate em­ploy­ers’ ac­cess to sea­sonal labour through the es­sen­tial skills visa. Be­fore the elec­tion there were in­ten­tions for phase 2 to in­clude con­sid­er­a­tion of a sea­sonal work pol­icy. It is un­clear at this time whether the new gov­ern­ment will con­tinue with planned con­sul­ta­tion.

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