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Immigration Act 2009: What the changes will mean for New Zealand visa applicants

by Jodie 9/30/2010 11:00:00 AM

The New Zealand Immigration Act 2009 enables the
collection of biometric information as well as other
changes to the immigration system.
 

The New Zealand Immigration Act 2009 will come into effect in November, bringing a number of changes to the New Zealand immigration system. The Immigration Act is the result of the most comprehensive review of New Zealand immigration legislation in 20 years, with its introduction intended "to manage immigration in a way that balances the national interest, as determined by the Crown, and the rights of individuals".

The provisions of the Immigration Act 2009 are not yet in force, with the majority of the provisions will come into effect on 29 November, 2010. Until then the provisions of the Immigration Act 1987 apply.

The changes of the Immigration Act 2009 can be summarised as follows:

  • Introduction of a universal visa system;
  • New interim visas;
  • Facilitating passenger processing;
  • Incentives for third parties to comply with their obligations;
  • A new classified information system with special safeguards;
  • More flexible compliance and information powers;
  • A tiered detention and monitoring system;
  • A new refugee and protection system;
  • A single independent appeals tribunal; AND
  • The legislative ability to use biometrics.

I'll now explain a few of these points which I think warrant further explanation and could have an effect on New Zealand visa holders and applicants.

Will the new Immigration Act affect current New Zealand visa or permit holders?

No. All existing visa or permit holders will be deemed to hold a visa of a corresponding type under the Immigration Act 2009, meaning there is no need to apply for a new visa or permit.

What classes of visa will the Immigration Act 2009 allow for?

The Immigration Act 2009 will allow for the following classes of visas:

Residence class visas
  • Permanent resident visas – holders are entitled to travel to and gain entry permission into New Zealand and may stay indefinitely without conditions.
  • Resident visas – holders may be subject to conditions but will be entitled to travel to, enter and stay in New Zealand in line with those conditions.
Temporary entry class visas
  • Temporary visas – these will have a variety of different types and names – for example, visitor visas which will allow a holder to stay in New Zealand for the purpose of visiting, and work visas which allow a holder to stay and work in New Zealand.
  • Interim visas – these can be granted for the purpose of maintaining lawful status in New Zealand, where someone has applied for a further visa and their application is being considered.
  • Limited visas – these can be granted to people who wish to come to New Zealand for an express purpose.
Transit visas
  • Transit visas - These allow a passenger to remain in transit if they are travelling through New Zealand to another destination.  Not everyone will require a transit visa.

What is the universal visa system and how will it affect New Zealand visa applicants?

The universal visa system is a welcome introduction as it looks set to make New Zealand migration legislation easier to understand by removing the current distinctions thast are made between the categories of 'visa', 'permit' and 'exemption'.

Instead, the single term 'visa' will refer to the authority to travel to, permission to enter and stay in New Zealand. Without exception, all foreign nationals who wish to enter New Zealand will require a visa, as opposed to a permit or exemption for certain individuals. However, the ability to waive the visa requirement for travel to New Zealand will be retained for certain countries (e.g. Australia).

What are interim visas and how will they work?

Interim visas have been introduced to maintain a foreign national’s lawful status in New Zealand where they have applied for a further visa and their application is being considered. This is another positive change, as previously, applicants whose current visa expired while they were applying for a new visa would need to leave the country.  With interim visas, a foreign national’s lawful status will be maintained while their application is being considered.

What does the 'collection of biometric information' mean?

The new Immigration Act will enable the future collection and use of specified biometric information from foreign nationals for identity verification purposes.  This will include photographs, fingerprints and iris scans of foreign nationals to verify their identity upon entry to New Zealand.

How will the Immigration Act 2009 affect employers?

Under the Immigration Act 2009 (and the Immigration Act 1987), an employer must not employ a foreign national who is not entitled to work in New Zealand or for that employer. This applies whether or not the employer knew that the foreign national was not entitled to work.

This is just an introduction to the Immigration Act 2009, and we'll be covering it as the changes are implemented and we have a better understanding of how they'll affect our clients. However, to read more about, click here to see full details of the act on the Department of Labour's website.

- Jodie List is Casework Department Manager for the New Zealand Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Christmas comes early for Australia visa applicants caught by processing changes?

by Jodie 12/3/2009 4:13:00 PM

A number of skilled visa applicants left in
limbo after the processing changes could
soon see their visas finalised by DIAC

Good news could finally be on the horizon for a number of the skilled Australia visa applicants caught by the processing changes made on 23 September, 2009. 

An official announcement is yet to be made, but there are now strong indications from the Department of Immigration of Citizenship (DIAC) that certain offshore State/Territory Sponsored skilled visa applicants in non-Critical Skills List (CSL) occupations are going to be processed in the next few months.

To give some background, the 23 September changes order of processing priorities put much greater importance on processing applications with a nominated occupation on the CSL, which can be summarised as follows:

"APPLICATION ON THE CSL

If your nominated occupation is on the CSL and you have applied for an onshore or offshore GSM visa it is estimated that your application will be finalised within 12 months from your lodgement date.

APPLICATIONS NOT ON CSL

If your nominated occupation is not on the CSL and you have applied for an offshore GSM visa it is unlikely that your visa will be finalised before the end of 2012."

Essentially, this left anyone without a nominated occupation on the CSL with a considerable wait before DIAC would finalise their visa application, regardless of where they were in the Australia immigration process

As a result, anyone applying through the State or Territory sponsorship pathway who had been asked to arrange police and medical checks prior to the announcement was left in a particularly frustrating position, as the changes took thousands of applicants from being just weeks or months away from receiving a visa grant to a situation where they would have to wait until approx. 2012 to have their application finalised.

Additionally, as medical examinations and police clearance certificates have a validity of 12 months such applicants were faced with the additional cost of arranging repeat medicals and police certificates, making the situation even more unfair.

Which applicants will DIAC start processing?

While there has been no official announcement yet, reports are coming in from migration agents and other individuals who have been in correspondence with the Department of Immigration that DIAC is now in a position to make a start on processing State or Territory sponsored applications who had been asked to arrange police and medical checks before 23 September, with such applications set to be processed in chronological order of receipt, regardless of the visa subclass applied for (i.e. subclasses 176 and 475).

We'll have to wait until the Department of Immigration make a solid announcement before being able to really gauge just how good this news is, and it's important to remember that the number of people with the potential to be affected is still relatively slight; approx. 3,500 people of the 2009/10 General Skilled Migration program which has 108,100 places. However, it's still an excellent sign that DIAC is showing a willingness to rectify their mistakes and make for a fairer migration process.

Once we have further information, we'll contact our clients directly to let them know exactly what the changes are, but do look out for further updates on the blog as and when they come in.

- Jodie List is a Senior Caseworker for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Changes to New Zealand immigration policy coming 30 November

by Jodie 11/11/2009 3:30:00 PM

On 30 November, NZIS will
implement changes to New
Zealand immigration policy.

We received news last week that changes are set to be made to New Zealand immigration policy on 30 November. You can see the full list of changes by clicking here, but the most pertinent piece of information for anyone looking to make an application for a New Zealand work visa is the following:

"Minimum income requirement for dependent children of Essential Skills work visa or permit holders

A minimum income threshold requirement has been added for work permit and visa holders under the Essential Skills policy in order for their dependent children to live in New Zealand. This is to ensure that the children have a appropriate level of financial support, given that these families are not eligible for state-funded income support."

This essentially means that anyone migrating to New Zealand on an Essential Skills policy work visa with dependent children must have a minimum income to be granted the visa. Through further investigation into the legislation, I have found that the minimum income threshold is NZD$33,675 gross p/a (which converts to approx. GBP£15,000 gross p/a), based on today's exchange rates.

A further caveat is that this income must be met and maintained wholly by the salary or wages of a parent or parents holding an Essential Skills work visa/permit.

Evidence must be provided of the Essential Skills work permit holder’s current salary or wages to satisfy a visa or immigration officer that the applicant’s parent/s meet the minimum income threshold.

- Jodie List is Casework Department Manager for the New Zealand Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Huge changes to Australia visa processing priorities made by DIAC

by Jodie 9/23/2009 6:26:00 PM

DIAC released a new order of priority
processing today that is set to affect
many Australia visa applicants

We received another update today regarding the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) processing priorities for Australian skilled visas and a new set of changes that have been made

What changes have been made to the Australia visa processing priorities?

Formerly, state nominated visa applications were marked as high priority and were typically entered into processing within a few weeks of state sponsorship confirmation. However, DIAC today released a new order of processing priorities.

Please understand that these changes only affect the time it takes your visa to be decided, and not your visa eligibility. See below for the new order (with the highest priority listed first):

  1. Applications from people who are employer sponsored under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Skilled Migration Scheme (RSMS);
  2. Applications from people who are nominated by a State/Territory government AND whose nominated occupation is listed on the Critical Skills List (CSL);
  3. Applications from people who are sponsored by family and whose nominated occupation is listed on the CSL;
  4. Applications from people who are neither nominated nor sponsored but whose nominated occupation is listed on the CSL;
  5. Applications from people who are nominated by a State/Territory government whose nominated occupation is not listed on the CSL;
  6. (i) Applications from people whose occupations are listed on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL); OR
    (ii) Applications from people who are sponsored by family and whose nominated occupation is not listed on the CSL;
  7. All other applications are to be processed in the order in which they are received.

What does this mean for Australia visa applicants?

The new order of processing priorities puts much greater importance on processing applications with a nominated occupation on the CSL. The following information further clarifies the new timeframes for both CSL-listed and non CSL-listed applications:

"APPLICATION ON THE CSL

If your nominated occupation is on the CSL and you have applied for an onshore or offshore GSM visa it is estimated that your application will be finalised within 12 months from your lodgement date.

APPLICATIONS NOT ON CSL

If your nominated occupation is not on the CSL and you have applied for an offshore GSM visa it is unlikely that your visa will be finalised before the end of 2012."

Essentially, anyone without a nominated occupation on the CSL will have to wait a considerable time before DIAC finalises their visa application. However, DIAC have announced that they are currently undertaking a Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) review (which we've discussed on an earlier Visa Bureau blog) which could result in further amendments to the processing priorities.

One potential outcome of the MODL review could be the introduction of the Future Skills List; a new targeting mechanism which could replace both the MODL and the CSL as the tool used by DIAC to determine the priority of visa applications.

What should I do at this time?

With the MODL review still in the pipeline, it's unlikely that these will be the last changes made to General Skilled Migration for now. Therefore, the best thing for all applicants to do is to stay calm and continue working towards their visa lodgement.

Additionally, while less priority has been placed on applications which are state sponsored, I would still advise continuing your application for state sponsorship if you have yet to do so. Possessing state sponsorship is still considered beneficial and would place in you a higher position than you would otherwise be in.

This information has just been announced today by DIAC and it has come as an enormous surprise to both migration agents and visa applicants alike. We'll post a more extensive blog providing comments on these changes soon, as well as any further updates we receive as the situation progresses.

- Jodie List is a MARA-registered migration agent for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Important upcoming changes to New Zealand immigration

by Jodie 7/9/2009 2:54:00 PM

Changes are coming to New
Zealand immigration.

The New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) recently announced a number of changes set to come into effect on July 27 that will impact both the temporary and permanent New Zealand visa categories.

The most important of these changes are those set to be made to the List of Skilled Occupations and the Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL). In an effort to have the lists align the revised version of the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), both lists will see:

  • The removal and addition of new occupations;
  • The addition of specialisations within occupations;
  • Occupation title changes;
  • Occupation scope changes; AND
  • The merging of occupations.

What does this mean for my New Zealand visa application?

The changes to the List of Skilled Occupations and LTSSL have the potential to change the eligibility of an applicant for a New Zealand visa, depending on whether their nominated occupation is added or removed from either of the lists.  However NZIS have also made provision in their policy for applicants whose occupation is removed from the LTSSL but have already had their Expression of Interest (EOI) selected from the pool. These applicants will NOT be affected, and they will continue  to be considered as if their occupation had not been removed.

However, what I advise all applicants to do is please remain calm. We are currently in the process of reassessing all our clients, but should you be trying to complete the process without the aid of a licensed immigration advisor, I advise that you take the time to research the changes and get a full and correct understanding of how they will affect you before taking action.

What other changes are coming to New Zealand immigration?

To summarise the other changes coming to New Zealand immigration, we can expect the following further changes to be made on July 27:

  • A new policy called Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) has been established and replaces the Transitioning to Recognised Seasonal Employer (TRSE) policy. As a result, some TRSE changes have been made as a reaction to the introduction of SSE policy. For more detailed information on these changes see the following news item on the NZIS website: 'New seasonal work policy for horticulture and viticulture businesses and amendments to Recognised Seasonal Employer policy'.
  • A special Visitor policy has been introduced for work permit holders who have received a dismissal notice within the 90-day trial period.
  • The Essential Skills work policy has been amended to limit the visa and permit length to one year for lower skilled workers. Additionally, a note has been added to state that self-employment does not meet the Essential Skills policy objectives.
  • All New Zealand working holiday visa holders may now undertake more than one course of study, which must not exceed three months in total during their stay in New Zealand. Working holidaymakers from Canada, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Taiwan may study more than one course not exceeding six months in total.

- Jodie List is Casework Department Manager for the New Zealand Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.