We recently secured a work visa for a client who thought her future in New Zealand was coming to an end. Our client arrived in New Zealand on a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work to Residence Visa, which provides a pathway to residence after 24 months. Unfortunately, she was made redundant from her employment due to the impact Covid-19 has had on the economy. Subsequently, she lost her pathway to residency. The client informed Immigration New Zealand (INZ) of her changes of circumstances. This was the right thing to do to ensure she was not in breach of her work visa conditions. INZ granted her a Visitor Visa to sort out her affairs and depart New Zealand.

The Obstacles

At that stage, the client felt hopeless as she believed she had to secure an offer of employment with an accredited employer within one month. If not, she had to pack her bags and return home. Her age also limited her eligibility to apply under the Skilled Migrant Category.

We were faced with three obstacles:

  1. Loss of employment – without an offer of skilled employment, she cannot apply for a visa under the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa instructions or the Essential Skills Work Visa instructions;
  2. The age – if she secured a job with an accredited employer, reaching 56 years of age, limited her ability to apply for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa;
  3. Time limit – she had one month left on her visitor visa and before she turns 56 years of age.

The Strategy

The first step to solve any issue is identifying what the client wants, what actions have they taken (if any). Then, lay out all the possible options to find a solution – for instance, our client’s goal was to secure employment in New Zealand and apply for residence. She was focused on finding a job with an accredited employer before turning 56 years, understanding that this was her only option, but that was not necessarily the case.

We established that even though she had one month left before her visa expired, she had been actively looking for a job. She had several interviews with different employers in New Zealand but with no job offers yet. We suggested to first apply for a short term Visitor Visa and explain her situation to INZ. Sometimes, being upfront with INZ on why you want to extend your stay in New Zealand (i.e. secure a job) will not negatively impact your situation. In her case, she had recently lost a job and had been actively looking for another job. Therefore, requesting a Visitor Visa for a few more months was a reasonable thing to do.

Once she has a job offer, the right pathway is to apply for a Work Visa under the Essential Skills category. This type of visa does not give her a pathway to Residence in New Zealand. However, it is a step to continue working in New Zealand and allow her sufficient time to establish a pathway to residence.

Essential Skills Work Visa

As per our advice, our client got a Visitor Visa to allow her time to find a job offer. Which she successfully achieved. The employer needed her to start the job immediately. Therefore, we assisted her with an Essential Skills Work Visa application, which was not a walk in the park. We had to work carefully with the documents and evidence supporting her application to ensure we provided a complete and accurate application to INZ.

For instance, we received evidence of advertising. However, the number of applicants who applied for the job were not apparent on the advertising/recruitment documents. We had to correspond with the employer and the recruiter to provide more documents on how the recruitment took place and why they found our client to be the most suitable candidate. Sometimes taking this extra step makes a huge difference. For example:

  • We requested copies of the appointments and interview notes with candidates who were shortlisted;
  • We provided letters from the employer and the recruitment agency setting out a detailed description of the recruitment process. It also helps if the employer and /or the recruitment agency can explain how the successful candidate’s specific skills/work experience meets the requirement of the job advertised;
  • We provided a comparative analysis of our client’s skills and experience with the other candidates who were shortlisted. Such analysis makes it easier for INZ to understand why the employer chose our client and why she was more suitable than the others.
  • Additional documents such as how the employer verified the successful candidates’ work experience with evidence to back it up, such as reference check notes, adds credibility to the employer’s case.

By providing a complete, thorough application to INZ, her Essential Skills Work Visa application was approved within one week. Our client is now ready to prepare for the next step for her Residence in New Zealand.

Pathway to Residence

We identified that our client was qualified and had the skills we need in New Zealand. In order to apply for a Resident Visa under the Skilled Migrant Category, she needed to score 160 points to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). With her current skilled employment, she will meet the 160 points threshold, with the only barrier to submitting an EOI being her age. We suggested that she can consider putting forward a ministerial request for an Age Waiver. However, ministerial requests are discretionary, it does not necessarily mean it will be successful, but it is an option to pursue.

Finding a solution and drawing a strategy is what we do. If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact us to help plan your journey.