January Newsletter

In this edition:

Do you need a pay rise to qualify for a visa?

As discussed in our August 2017 article, Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa Policy Changes, significant changes to residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and Essential Skills policies were implemented by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) some six months ago.  With such a dramatic transformation to these key visa categories, a number of tweaks have been made, and continue to be made.

One of the major changes introduced in August 2017 was the establishment of remuneration thresholds.  The remuneration banding is now a tool used in the SMC policy to determine whether employment is considered “skilled employment”, and also whether an applicant can qualify for bonus points.

In addition, the introduction of remuneration bands in the Essential Skills policy is used to classify the skill level of applicants (highly-skilled, mid-skilled, or lower-skilled).  This classification is material to the type and length of the work visa issued, including whether dependents can “piggy-back” from the main applicant’s visa.

INZ bases its remuneration thresholds on the “Earnings from Wages and Salaries” information included in the New Zealand Labour Market Statistics.  We expect the INZ to modify its remuneration banding each year, as the New Zealand median income increases.

INZ has made its first such remuneration adjustment to the SMC and Essential Skills policy, in line with statistics from the June 2017 quarter.  These changes came into effect on 15 January 2018, and will apply to applications received by INZ on or after this date.

SMC threshold changes

ThresholdPrior to 15 JanuaryFrom 15 January
Threshold for skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3$23.49 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$24.29 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold for skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 4-5, or which is not included in ANZSCO$35.24 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$36.44 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold to earn bonus points$46.98 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$48.58 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

 Essential Skills threshold changes

ThresholdPrior to 15 JanuaryFrom 15 January
Threshold for mid-skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3$19.97 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$20.65 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)
Threshold for higher skilled employment in any occupation (including those at ANZSCO 4-5)$35.24 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)$36.44 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

 The increases set out above are in some cases, quite significant.  An applicant must now be paid at least $24.29 per hour to be eligible for residence under the SMC – an additional 80 cents per hour more than previously required.  This is an increase of $1,664.00 per annum for a candidate working a 40 hour week.

It is also worth noting that an applicant must be paid at least $20.65 per hour or above to be assessed as “mid-skilled” when applying for an Essential Skills work visa.  This is an additional 68 cents per hour than previously required.

We anticipate that some applicants and their employers may have missed this adjustment (in the lead up to Christmas) that did not attract as much fanfare as the policies did when they were first introduced on 28 August last year.

It is important to have a sound understanding of how INZ determines an hourly rate, and to correctly apply to the appropriate ANZSCO before submitting an application to INZ.  If you are unsure about how these changes may affect you, you should seek immigration advice.

For further information or assistance with emigration please contact Lane Neave Lawyers on + 64 3 379 3720 or email liveinnewzealand@laneneave.co.nz.

Waitangi Day: a celebration of our culture

Among all the public holidays celebrated in New Zealand, one is more Kiwi than any other. On 6 February each year New Zealand celebrates Waitangi Day, a commemoration of the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between Queen Victoria’s British government and the combined iwi (Māori tribes) of New Zealand. While not all iwi agreed to the signing, and controversy remains about the wording and honouring of the Treaty, it remains the defining document between the indigenous people and the colonists of this country.

Every year Waitangi Day is marked by an important official ceremony on the Treaty grounds in Waitangi, and at various other marae (meeting grounds) around the country. It is a paradox of protests by those aggrieved by issues still unresolved, and nationwide celebrations of the unity of two peoples. Increasingly it is also a chance to celebrate the integration of other cultures into New Zealand, and the vibrancy that new migrants bring to our country. This is formally marked by well-attended citizenship ceremonies, many held on marae throughout the country.

Waitangi Day also offers us the chance to reflect on how modern-day New Zealand (Aotearoa) celebrates its Māori heritage. Unlike many nations where indigenous cultures are less visible, Māori people have always played a significant role in New Zealand society.

Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) is an official language in New Zealand and features strongly in all aspects of life; from the All Blacks’ haka, to the national anthem, through to everyday use in schools and workplaces. Māori greetings, such as kia ora (hello) are common. Words like kai (food), whanau (family) and Te Reo versions of the numbers and colours roll naturally off the tongues of young children who use the language in classrooms every day. The visibility of Te Reo is probably most evident in the place names around the country. These can intrigue and perplex many newcomers who can find the pronunciation rather challenging. Try pronouncing Tāmakimakaurau and Whangārei-terenga-paraoa!

Over the past ten years the Māori population has grown by almost 6%. Recent statistics indicate that approximately 15% of New Zealanders identify as Māori; the overwhelming majority living in the North Island, where Māori culture is much more visible. Māori play a prominent role in governing the country, and are represented strongly in Parliament and high-level government roles.
There are dedicated Māori seats in Parliament, and a Māori electoral roll in which anyone with Māori heritage can choose to be enrolled. There is a popular Māori television station, 21 Māori radio stations, and Māori are represented strongly at all levels in sports and the arts. Māori film and performing arts are recognised as unique, and command strong international audiences.

Waitangi Day serves as a great reminder of how fortunate we are in New Zealand to have the rich Māori culture as the backbone of our nation. We are strengthened by our shared heritage and welcome the chance to share this unique cultural mix with newcomers to Aotearoa.

Article provided by Lisa Burdes – SkillsConnect Canterbury Business Advisor at the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber offers migrant employment assistance, and support to employers of migrants in Canterbury. This service is fully funded by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). If you have questions about living and working in New Zealand, you can visit http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz. If you have questions about living and working in New Zealand, you can visit http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz, email your query to newmigrantinfo@mbie.govt.nz or ring the INZ Contact Centre on +64 9 914 4100.

NZ business confidence decreased

Welcome to the New Year. 2018 has brought some fantastic weather with temperatures in direct contrast to NZ business confidence.

Business confidence throughout New Zealand has decreased, as the new coalition government begin implementing new legislation focussed on “improving the lot of New Zealand’s lowest paid workers at the expense of business profits.” (Economic Overview – Westpac . November 2017).

The New Zealand economy continues to expand, however the pace of growth has slowed.
The NZ infrastructural needs still loom large and as such the opportunities for “mid and high” skilled employees is great.

Enterprise Recruitment & People have a strong network throughout New Zealand and remain interested in assisting skilled candidates with their placement requirements. Feel free to contact Steve Baker on steve.baker@enterprise.co.nz or 00 64 3 3530680 for a cost & obligation free appraisal of your employment options and opportunities in New Zealand.

Article provided by Steve Baker – Enterprise Recruitment and People.

Enterprise Recruitment and People has a national presence. We remain interested in providing obligation free advice to offshore candidate’s about their chances of securing employment in New Zealand. Steve can be contacted on steve.baker@enterprise.co.nz or 00 64 3 3530680.


Economic growth and NZ labour movement point to ongoing demand for workers

Economic conditions appear to be improving in most parts of the world. This can be seen in upward revisions to forecasts of growth from the likes of the IMF and helps explain strength in share prices, shifts toward limiting money printing in Japan and Europe, and continuing expectations of interest rate rises in the United States.

In Australia consumer confidence has hit a four year high and over 400,000 jobs were created in 2017 – three quarters of them full-time. That latter fact is worth mentioning because between 2012 and 2016 most new jobs in Australia were part-time.

In New Zealand over 400,000 jobs have been created since 2009, some 100,000 last year, and businesses are widely reporting that they cannot find the staff they need to continue to grow. And growth looks like it will remain strong in the NZ economy.

Last year the economy grew by 3%, the year before and the year before that almost 4%. This firm growth has been a bit of a surprise considering the sharp decline in prices for NZ’s biggest export in 2014 – dairy products. But it reflects a surge in all types of construction, booming tourism, booming net immigration adding some 270,000 people in the past five years, and low interest rates.

Those low interest rates by and large look like continuing in New Zealand and that coupled with only a gradual turning of the migration cycle and ongoing shortage of properties in Auckland helps explain why we believe talk of falling house prices on average in New Zealand is misplaced. But because the cycle has peaked prices probably won’t move all that much for three or four years.

I started this column discussing foreign economies and especially Australia because the relative state of the NZ and Australian labour markets is a key determinant of overall migration flows. The net flow with Australia has averaged a loss of 19,000 per annum over the past 20 years. The loss was a record 40,000 five years ago but a relatively rare gain for NZ of 2,000 just over a year ago. Things are currently almost exactly even.

But chances are the net flow will become increasingly negative as Kiwis do what Kiwis have always done which is take advantage of a cyclically strong labour market in Australia to build a nest egg for future use. That is very important for people in other parts of the world considering shifting to New Zealand.

The NZ labour market has become tighter even with business confidence falling away following the election of a centre-left government last year. With some Kiwis shifting across the ditch (as we call it) demand for workers from elsewhere can only grow. This means the government, while still likely to crack down on low level migration and some automatic routes to residency for students, could if anything loosen criteria for skilled migrants.

They may put a slight regional focus on migration with extra points for those willing to live and work outside Auckland. But this has not proved of much impact in the past.

On a final note for this month’s column, despite all the furore about Brexit worries, Trump’s America, and the spreading of China’s influence, there is no evidence of some sort of economic/political/social refugee flood to New Zealand. Many people certainly checked out Immigration NZ information following the Brexit and Trump votes. But many have backed away once gaining information about the cost of living and housing in NZ and average levels of remuneration.

Nevertheless, something has changed regarding the attractiveness of NZ to people generally in a world where remaining connected whilst in one of the more far flung corners of the world has become much easier. Average annual net migration inflows in New Zealand have been 28,000 for the past ten years. In the ten years ending in 2006 the average gain was 11,000 per annum. In the ten years to 1996 just 3,000. And in the ten years to 1986 -17,000.

Article provided by Tony Alexander – Chief Economist, Strategy & Business Performance, BNZ. 


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