Weekend Herald

Employers applaud Govt’s visa changes

- Grant Bradley

Federated Farmers and other business groups have welcomed the Government’s extension of essential skills visas.

The farming group says the 12-month extension has recognised the need for valuable migrant staff working in the dairy sector.

Immigratio­n Minister Kris Faafoi also announced the applicatio­n process would be streamline­d to make it easier for employers and visa holders while the border remains closed.

The two-year essential skills visa would provide certainty to at least 18,000 visa holders and the Government says the streamline­d applicatio­n process would help at least 57,000 visa holders.

“These valued staff are offering just what their visa says, essential skills to the New Zealand dairy industry,” said Federated Farmers employment and immigratio­n spokesman Chris Lewis.

From Monday the maximum duration of essential skills visas for jobs paid below the median wage ($25.50) will increase from 12 months to 24 months.

The maximum duration of essential skills visas for jobs paid above the median wage will remain at three years.

The requiremen­t for all employers and workers to move to the accredited employer work visa, which was due to come into effect on November 1, will be delayed until the middle of next year.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa says tourism employers and their employees on work visas “will be delighted and relieved” by the announceme­nt.

“Employers don’t want to lose the great people they already have,” said Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts. “TIA applauds the Government for listening to business concerns.”

New Zealand Winegrower­s said changes would help employers retain skilled staff and provide certainty, while Employers and Manufactur­ers Associatio­n chief executive Brett O’Riley called it a step in the right direction to addressing labour demand.

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