Wellington, October 13, 2021
The government will extend Working Holiday visas and Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visas for six months to provide more certainty to employers and visa holders over the coming summer period, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has said.
“This offers employers and visa holders the certainty that they have been asking for going into this summer’s harvest season and which we said we will provide, if necessary, back in June when we announced the last six month extension,” he said.
More than 8500 people on Working Holiday visas and SSE work visas due to expire between December 21, 2021 and June 30, 2022 will benefit from the six month extension.
Open Work Rights allowed
They will also continue to have open work rights, allowing them to work in any sector to help meet labour market demands where they exist.
“With borders remaining closed until the first quarter next year, it is important that we ensure that employers can retain their existing workforce for the upcoming summer period. It will allow employers across a range of industries to make use of the onshore workforce while our border restrictions are in place, but it is important to remember that these extensions are only temporary measures,” Mr Faafoi said.
He said that his government is committed to a long-term vision for New Zealand’s immigration system, which involves sectors moving away from a reliance on low-paid and low-skilled migrant workers and transitioning to new ways of attracting, training and upskilling Kiwis into jobs and investing in productivity measures that will support New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery.
Advise to employers
“Some sectors have already made great progress in this space, but there is still more work to be done. I encourage sectors and employers to use this time while our border restrictions are in place to think about how to make this transition and how to recruit more New Zealanders into roles before looking to utilise temporary migrant workers,” Mr Faafoi said.
These visa extensions complement other changes the government has made to help employers, such as the recently announced 2021 Resident visa which will provide a one-off pathway to residence for an estimated 165,000 migrants and their families.
Other changes over the past 18 months have included border exceptions to bring in over 18,000 critical workers and their families and extending the length of new Essential Skills visas from 12 to 24 months for jobs paid below the median wage.
Immigration New Zealand will contact all visa holders eligible for the Working Holiday or SSE visa extension by the end of November.
Eligible visas will automatically be extended by Immigration New Zealand for an additional six months from the date they expire, visa holders won’t need to apply for a new visa.
Under the Immigration Act 2009, the Minister of Immigration can only extend Working Holiday and Supplementary Seasonal Employment visas by special direction for a maximum of six months at a time.