It is no secret that the New Zealand labour market is facing unprecedented skills shortages across a broad range of industries.

The usual influx of working holiday visa holders has not yet materialized, and there is increasing economic commentary that many young New Zealanders and frustrated migrants are leaving for higher wages and lower cost of living overseas. The skilled migrant influx to fill the gap has only happened in patches through critical purpose visas for certain sectors.

So there are major gaps to fill,  and employers are rightly hoping that the influx of workers will rapidly ease their current critical shortage of workers after Accredited Employer work visas start on the 4th of July and the borders open more broadly on the 31st of July.

Our concern is that New Zealand is competing in an open world market for skilled employees, but it is questionable if we have the current Immigration structure and capacity to provide the efficiency and service levels needed to compete for skills with the likes of Australia and Canada.

Employers must navigate their way through an administration-heavy process of Accreditation and Job checks, which are yet to be tested.

The new Accredited Employer Work Visa option opens on 4 July 2022, but visas can only be applied for after the first two steps have been completed.

Employers are required to meet new costs of accreditation and job checks even before they can be assured that the migrant will get a visa.

The situation is exacerbated by AEWV application fees increasing significantly from $595 to $750, which we believe is hard to justify, given that much of the checks INZ previously undertook during work visa applications are now undertaken during the accredited employer and job check stages.

Processing delays with all visa types are placing doubt on the new Immigration system. Frequent outages and upgrades are causing more frustration and concerns that the ‘fix-all automated system’ is anything but what it was hailed to be.

There is no questioning the good intentions of the new accreditation policy. Genuine and compliant employers will be the winners and more migrants will be treated with respect and be provided with the assistance that they need to become integrated and valued members of our workforce. This protection of our migrants should build a solid foundation for long-term immigration pathways.

However, good intentions don’t always play out well in practice. The Immigration system that has been constructed is multi-layered, expensive and time-consuming for employers and migrants. Most importantly, it is not fast and efficient.

It seems highly likely that employers will be waiting for 3 months or much longer for their overseas staff, which is hardly an efficient structure to compete with Australia and Canada. We can only hope the attraction of working and living in New Zealand will allow us to compete for skills in the World.

As always, our Licenced immigration Advisers are fully up-to-date with the latest Immigration changes.  We have a skilled and experienced team to assist employers with their accreditation process and smooth the process of obtaining skilled overseas staff.

Renee Asici

Licensed Immigration Adviser