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Relief for migrant workers in NZ as Government extends temporary visas

Migrants in New Zealand with temporary visas will be able to get an extension with a short-term change to the visa settings, the Government has announced.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. Source: 1 NEWS

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says 16,500 visas due to expire by the end of 2020 will have their temporary work visas extended by six months.

“This will provide some immediate relief and certainty for migrants and employers in the short term while they recover from the impact of Covid-19 and adjust to the changing labour market conditions where more New Zealanders will be available for work,” he said in a statement.

Migrant workers subject to the 12 month stand-down period that were going to leave New Zealand will be able to stay in the country for the duration of their extension.

This will also apply to around 600 lower-skilled visa holders who have been subject to the 12 month stand-down period, Mr Lees-Galloway said.

Despite the relief for migrant workers, Mr Less-Galloway stressed to employers that their focus longer-term should be on recruiting and training New Zealanders.

“These short-term changes give employers some time to get ready for a changed labour market where more New Zealanders will be looking for work."

“New low-skilled work visas will only be granted for six instead of 12 months as our priority is to preserve and prioritise future job opportunities for New Zealanders and give the system more flexibility to respond to labour market developments."

“With more New Zealanders looking for work, some employers will need to adjust to a new situation. With the short-term changes we are making, however, there is some lead-in time for employers.”