What Migrant Recruits Need to Know for 2021

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It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a year of massive change for everyone in New Zealand. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of our borders and the impact was huge – but particularly so in industries such as ours – migrant recruitment.


There’s still no telling when borders will be opened, and there are few exemptions being granted to the border closure thus far, yet the industries we supply with recruits are crying out for workers!


We are now starting to see the impact of the halt on migrant workers, particularly in the construction industry, which is experiencing huge growth, yet has a very short supply of skilled staff.


However, we’re still hard at work sourcing from a local network of migrant recruits, as well as ensuring employees have the correct visas so that they can continue being employed here.


There have been some significant regulatory changes in immigration this year that you may not be aware of, so we’ve compiled a round-up of what you need to know about your employment going forward.

Changes to Essential Skills Visas

From July 27, 2020, NZ Immigration is using a median wage threshold to decide how long someone can stay on an Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) and their options to support family.


Prior to July, NZ Immigration was using a combination of a job’s Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill level and the salary to assess if someone is low, mid or high skilled.


But, from July 27 this year, this was replaced with a median-wage threshold as an indicator of skill. Applicants are now assessed as either: at or above the median wage; or below the median wage.


The current median wage is NZD $25.50 an hour and this is likely to move to $27.00 by February (the median wage is reviewed each year in November by Stats NZ – and they officially lift it within several months of the review).


Unfortunately, it’s our belief that the data collected to calculate the median wage is likely to be artificially skewed higher, due to the number of job losses in low-paid employment (because of Covid-19).

What do the changes mean for me?

The median wage increase has a significant impact on obtaining three-year visas. It means that those employees currently on wages between $25.50 and $26.90 will no longer be eligible to apply for three-year visas.


We suggest employees look into securing a three-year ESWV visa if you are in that wage range currently, and do not currently have one.


There are additional benefits for an employee once they have a mid-skilled ESWV – you can apply for a partnership visa and be reunified with your partner; and you can apply for a Student Visa for children. Additionally, residency will also become an option for those in skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO skill level 1-3. This is great news for employees who are happily settled in their jobs and want to stay on!

A new trend in recruitment

There’s huge demand for entry-level workers across all of the industries we supply recruits for, and we’ve noticed some employers are using labour hire companies to secure recruits.


They can be a great way to pick up new workers, however, because they are paid an hourly fee on top of the employee’s minimum wage rate, the employee will struggle to obtain any visa longer than six months.


However, under our structure, the employee’s wage meets the median wage threshold, (and we don’t take an hourly cut on top of it – just a one-off fee to the employer) which means you earn a higher hourly rate and we can help you obtain a three-year visa.


It’s worth thinking about, and if you know of anyone who would benefit from moving to our recruitment structure, please ask them to get in touch.




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