Faster visas for island workers
Priority processing is to be given to migrant visa applications for work on Auckland’s Waiheke Island.
The news comes from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.
She contacted Immigration Minister Hon Michael Woodhouse about concerns from the island’s hospitality business owners, after meeting 15-strong group of them in June 2017.
The restaurant and vineyard owners said they were facing the prospect of losing highly skilled staff when their visas expired.
And they were worried migrant workers would not be eligible for long-term residency under the new rules.
The group said labour shortages already affected the hospitality and tourism industry on Waiheke.
It would not be helped by the changes to the Skilled Migrant Category Visa.
Government believes the changes, which took effect on August 28 2017, will help create a balance between enabling access to migrant labour and ensuring New Zealanders with comparable skills get the work.
The Minister said, in a written response to Kaye, he had asked officials to provide advice on how any labour shortages could be addressed and to ensure Waiheke employers were not adversely impacted by labour shortages during the tourist season.
Immigration officials have told Woodhouse holiday makers will be informed about the opportunities for work in the region.
Priority processing will be given to visa applications for summer employment on Waiheke.
These will be approved within 10 working days where applications do not require any further information.
‘‘This priority processing will be implemented shortly,’’ Woodhouse’s letter said.
An immigration relationship manager, Carl Andrews, will visit the island and work with Waiheke employers.
He will explore how to link migrant workers to employment needs and provide advice on negotiating the immigration process smoothly.
Finally, a multi-employer Approval in Principle for specific occupations on Waiheke Island will be considered.
Migrant workers paid up to $48,859 a year are allowed a threeyear visa, before they’re forced to leave New Zealand for 12 months.