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10,000 workers get visa extension for 6 months

Jun 10, 2021

About 10,000 foreign workers on temporary visas are being allowed to stay in the country for another six months to help ease labour shortages while the border remains shut.

Migrants on Working Holiday and Supplementary Seasonal Employment visas due to expire between 21 June and the end of December will have their visas automatically extended.

Those on a Seasonal Employment visa can now also pick up work in any industry, not just horticulture or viticulture.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said, while employers should try to take on New Zealand workers, this extension would give them some certainty.

"It will also put the minds of visa holders at ease knowing they can stay and work in New Zealand for the foreseeable future."

"We will continue to monitor the border and labour market situations and will extend these visas again if necessary."

Essential Skills work visas for those earning below $27 per hour would be increased from six months to 12 months.

Bringing back the stand-down period - when a migrant must spend at least 12 months outside of New Zealand if they have worked for three years below the median wage - has been postponed until July 2022.

All eligible visa holders would be contacted by 25 June.

Meanwhile, 250 farm workers and vets would be allowed into the country under new border exceptions.

Up to 150 dairy farm workers in management roles on farms, 50 workers in dairy assistant roles, and up to 50 general practice vets, along with their partners and dependent children, would be allowed in.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the exception came as the new dairy season kicked off and would go a long way to relieving labour pressures.

"What we have also made clear to sector leaders is that we need to ensure there is a strong incentive for New Zealanders to take up entry level roles and develop careers in dairying.

"The government and food and fibres sector have been working hard to mitigate worker shortages by training and upskilling New Zealanders, but we know that takes time. This announcement recognises the immediate need for additional expertise to come through our borders."

Employers could request to bring workers in through this exception by the end of the month.

Employers would be required to pay for the workers' stay in managed isolation and pay their salary while in isolation.

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