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Tough new labour market testing guidelines for work visa applications

Employers and HR professionals will be familiar with the Essential Skills work visa as one of the main visa categories used to facilitate employment of migrant workers. As most readers will be aware, a key component of this visa category is testing the local labour market, to ascertain whether suitable New Zealanders (citizens or residence class visa holders) are either available or readily trainable to perform the role before offering it to a migrant worker. INZ has now released new internal guidance for Immigration Officers to assist them in determining whether the labour market test is satisfied when processing work visa applications.

On first read, the guidance may appear to suggest “business as usual”. However, the devil is in the detail and it is apparent that in most cases employers are going to have to do a lot more to demonstrate their genuine attempts to test the labour market, before a work visa will be granted. In this tough new environment we anticipate INZ will be asking for much more detailed information across the board and there are also likely to be increased numbers of applications that are declined due to failing the labour market test requirement.