Employers wanting to hire overseas workers for jobs in the Canterbury region of New Zealand, except skilled professions or those on a skill shortage list, will need to follow new visa application rules from the end of this month.
There are severe shortages of a number of skills in the area where the major rebuild operation following the earthquakes is getting underway. However, Immigration New Zealand is warning employers that they will need to register their vacancy online. They may also make contact with the Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub via email or by phone. The Skills Hub will check if there are suitable New Zealanders available to do the job, and if there are, the Skills Hub will put the employer in touch with these candidates.If there are no suitable candidates available, the Skills Hub will confirm this in a letter that the employer can attach to a visa application for a migrant to fill the vacancy. The letter means Immigration New Zealand will not be required to do further checks to see if there are New Zealanders able to do the job.
A spokesman said that this will make the visa application process more transparent for employers, as well as ensuring that New Zealand workers are first in line for jobs during the Canterbury rebuild. The new rule affects most jobs in the Canterbury region, including trades, clerical and manual jobs. It does not affect highly skilled occupations, or occupations on the immigration skill shortage lists including the Canterbury Skill Shortage List, he added.
He also also pointed out that employers would be held responsible if any employee is found working without the proper New Zealand visa, even if the employer is unaware. The rebuild operation in Christchurch is still to begin in earnest after the earthquake which razed large parts of the city in February 2011 and triggered a large exodus of residents whose homes or places of work were damaged in the disaster.
The city’s depleted workforce has struggled to cope with the demands of the recovery operation and employers have since turned abroad to find skilled workers capable of assisting in the operation. There are concerns that in the frenzy to recruit workers there is the risk of widespread immigration scams. As a result random site inspections are likely to be stepped up and unless an employer can prove they had taken reasonable steps to ensure any foreign employees have the right to be working, they could face punishment.
‘The onus is on the employer to make sure workers working for them are legally entitled to be working in New Zealand We urge employers to check the passports of potential employees to be sure of their immigration status,’ the spokesman added.
January 21, 2013