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New Zealand is home to many migrants who have spent years in New Zealand, their kids may have been born here and they may consider themselves almost as New Zealanders. Yet, the recent global events following Covid-19 have put many migrants and their employers in a very sensitive position.

1. Labour market test condition for applications submitted prior to the lockdown:

If you submitted your Essential Skills Work visa application prior to the lockdown or if the advertising was conducted prior to the lockdown, then the chances are that Immigration New Zealand will soon issue you a PPI letter asking the employer to provide evidence that post-COVID-19, there are still no New Zealanders available for the role.

Sample wording from a PPI letter:

Immigration New Zealand is sending template PPI letters to all such applications for whom, the advertisement process was completed prior to the lockdown. Here is a sample wording of the text.

“The position that you have been offered was advertised prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. COVID-19 has greatly affected New Zealand’s economy and job market meaning there have been significant changes to the labour market since that time. The change in the labour market was unpredicted and extremely fast. The documents that you have provided to date do not allow us to make a complete assessment, given the amount of change that has occurred. Based on the evidence of recruitment provided with your application, we are not yet satisfied that there are no New Zealanders available for the work you have been offered, as required by immigration instructions at WK1.5 and WK3.10; therefore your application may be declined.

To address this concern, we require your employer to provide further information or evidence as to whether there continues to be no New Zealanders available for the role on offer. This may include information about their ongoing attempts to recruit New Zealanders for similar roles, why the skills and experience required for your job continue to be unavailable from New Zealand job seekers, or any training they may have provided to New Zealanders to allow them to begin similar employment.”

If you want to download a full sample PPI, you may do so from here: view sample

What are your options?:

Immigration New Zealand is advising that they do not necessarily want the employer to re-advertise the role but it may be the only way for your employer to prove that there are no suitable New Zealanders available for the role.

As per Immigration New Zealand, here is what else may be acceptable:

  • If the employer has been continuously advertising for similar or identical roles during the lockdown and post lockdown, then they could use this information to prove that there are no suitable New Zealanders available for the role.
  • The Employer could also provide evidence that the role is specialized and skilled to a level that suitable New Zealanders continue to be unavailable for the role.

Seek Advice from work & Income:

Employers may also wish to consult with work & income to establish if there are any New Zealanders who have registered themselves with work & income and may meet the desired skill level to be able to perform the job duties on offer or who may be readily trained for the role because of their transferable skills. I strongly recommend this step even for the roles which are at skill level 1,2,3 as per ANZSCO, as it will help the employers in proving that they have made a genuine effort to hire suitable New Zealanders. If this step is not followed, then it is also possible that your employer may submit all other evidence but the visa officer may receive contradictory information from work & income who may report suitable people for the role.

Re-advertise the role:

If no other evidence appears to be conclusive, then I recommend that the employers consider if they must re-advertise the role. I know that many times, employers are reluctant to do so but imagine the following and then make a decision:

The employer has already made a genuine effort to hire a suitable NZer for the role. They could not find a suitable NZer and as a result, they offered the role to a migrant worker. Now if they are not able to prove that despite job losses that happened due to Covid-19, there are no suitable NZers available for the role, then the visa application is likely to be declined. This may mean that the visa applicant is rendered without a valid visa and may have to eventually leave NZ.  If that happens, then the employer is back to square one. They have to advertise again to either find a suitable NZer or attract a new suitable migrant who would again have to apply for a work visa. So it is actually in the employer’s best interest to start advertising the role again to ensure that:

  • They are able to hire a suitable NZer if there is anyone available.
  • They are able to hire their already chosen migrant worker and avoid further delays caused by having to go through the process again.

Immigration New Zealand has also published additional information on the topic for employers: Go to INZ website 

2. Financial sustainability of the role:

COVID-19 lockdown has seriously impacted many businesses and this has a direct impact on the visa applications of many migrants. As a result of the upcoming potential financial downturn, Immigration New Zealand is also going to ask for additional information to ensure that the company offering the role and the position on offer are financially viable for the business.

The wage subsidy is not necessarily a problem:

If your employer received a wage subsidy, it is not a problem in itself. This subsidy is part of the govt. efforts to help stimulate the economy. So if your employer has now restarted their business and continues to remain financially viable then the subsidy is not a problem.

However, if the employer is struggling to keep the business afloat and after the subsidy period, they won’t be able to sustain the salaries in their business, then there may be problems.

Immigration New Zealand may ask for additional information:

Immigration New Zealand may ask the employer to prove if the business remains financially viable and if the job offer is sustainable. This may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Employer’s latest GST returns
  • Last two years financial statements and a financial forecast for the next 12 months
  • Details about any confirmed orders, contracts guaranteeing income
  • Any business savings or funding which may be able to help the employer remain financially viable/sustainable.
  • A business case explaining the business situation, current challenges, and the methods business is deploying for financial recovery and how the offered role will assist the company in executing their strategy.

Although these questions and points may come across as onerous behind all of this, the intent of Immigration New Zealand is to ensure that granting work visas doesn’t put migrants and employers in a situation where it may lead to exploitation or undue financial stress on the business.

If you or your migrant staff have received such a PPI and need help, I hope this article has been helpful for you. If you need any other assistance in representing your case to Immigration New Zealand, feel free to contact us, we will be happy to assist.

Kind regards,
Malkiat Singh
IAA: 201400142


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