– 13 July 2020
The local labour market test is a requirement for the Essential Skills work visa, and has been part of the immigration framework for years. This test reflects the general idea that New Zealand as a country would rather have New Zealanders take up employment in any open employment positions, rather than hiring migrant workers to take those spots instead. This means that employers will have to be able to prove that there are no New Zealanders in the area who are able to fill the vacant role at the time of assessment.
Employers will have to show that they have taken all reasonable steps to try and hire a New Zealander first. This is usually done through advertising the position and showing that either no one applied, or the applicants were all unsuitable. For lower skilled jobs, Skills Match Reports from Work and Income New Zealand and advice from the Ministry of Social Development will also need to be provided and it will become increasingly difficult as our unemployment numbers balloon.
These are all normal parts of the visa application process. However, the situation has changed due to COVID-19. As employers need to show there are no New Zealanders available to fulfil the vacant role at the time of assessment, it is possible that Immigration New Zealand will not be satisfied that whatever evidence you have already provided about availability of New Zealanders isn’t outdated. Due to rising unemployment and business closures because of the epidemic, there are naturally more New Zealanders available to be hired. This means that it will be harder for migrant workers to obtain work visas, as part of the basis for granting a work visa is the principle that there are no New Zealanders available to do the work.
This will be especially true for lower skilled jobs, which are usually the first to get cut. On top of that, lower skilled job seekers register with Work and Income New Zealand, which creates a register of people looking for jobs. It is difficult to claim that there are no New Zealanders available to do the work when a government agency has a steadily growing list of New Zealanders ready and willing to start working immediately.
The ramifications of these consequences could be surprisingly severe. Migrant workers who happened to be locked out of New Zealand may find themselves separated from not only their family and friends, but their material possessions and their sources of wealth. Certain markets and industries may shrink and shrivel under the sudden drought of migrants coming into New Zealand, especially those that rely on a constant stream of migrant labour like fruit picking and construction. The effects on our infrastructure, during our current attempts to upsize to accommodate so many people mean that we may suddenly find ourselves with wastefully large and expensive infrastructure going to waste.
It is important to seek independent legal advice in these troubling times, now more so than ever as such advice may indeed make the difference between an approval and a decline.
Queen City Law is an award winning law firm that specialises in litigation, commercial, property, and immigration law. Our team of experts would be more than happy to help you with your immigration needs.
We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should be always be sought before any decision or action is taken as Immigration New Zealand’s instructions change on a regular basis.