November 25, 2010

New Zealand’s new Immigration Act comes into force on 29 November 2010.  The new act modernizes New Zealand’s immigration laws but does not make major changes to the criteria under which people travel to and stay in New Zealand.  The changes should not affect Pro-Link GLOBAL’s clients at this time, although the interim visas, due to be introduced in March 2011, will be an advantageous change for businesses.

Key changes are outlined below.

Interim Visas 

The new Act introduces a new interim visa, which will automatically be issued  when a visa extension application is submitted, (provided the extension application was submitted at least three days before expiration of the previous visa) to allow the applicant to continue working while the extension application is in process.  However, this provision is not due to come into effect until March 2011.

Terminology Change 

The new Act uses the single term “visa” for authority to travel to and stay in New Zealand. The terms “permit” and “exemption” will no longer be used.  The terms “residence permits”, “residence visas” and “returning resident’s visas” will be replaced by “resident visas” and “permanent resident visas” – but there is no change to existing categories or criteria for people wishing to settle in New Zealand.

New Sponsorship System 

Sponsors of people coming to New Zealand will be responsible for all aspects of maintenance, accommodation and repatriation (or deportation) of the sponsored person. More specific criteria for sponsors are also being introduced. For temporary entry visas, this broader obligation will be in place for the whole time the sponsored person is in New Zealand. For resident visas, this obligation will be in place for a specific period.

Employer Obligations 

The 2009 Act narrows the “reasonable excuse” defence for employing a foreign national not entitled to work in New Zealand. Employers will need to show that they have taken “reasonable precautions: and “exercised due diligence” in checking whether foreign nationals are entitled to work for them.  An online system called VisaView will enable registered employers to verify whether prospective employees are entitled to work for them.  More information can be found here.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

Note the increased emphasis on employer compliance from 29 November 2010

New application forms and fees will be applicable from 29 November 2010; Pro-Link GLOBAL will keep all our clients informed on a case-by-case basis.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.  Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in New Zealand to provide you this update.  Parts of this update are taken verbatim from the Immigration New Zealand website.