Eligible migrants in South Island will be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which would make them eligible for residence after two years provided they stay in the same industry and region. They will then be granted a resident visa, with conditions requiring them to stay in the same South Island region for a further two years.

The new policy is scheduled to come into effect on 22 May 2017. Applications will be accepted for 12 months from the effective date. Immigration instructions and further information will be available on the INZ website closer to the launch of the policy.

The Government is currently reviewing temporary visa settings to ensure future lower-skilled temporary migrants do not end up in the same situation.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a one-off pathway to residence for around 4000 long-term temporary migrant workers and their families living in the South Island.

The Following is his statement:

There has been a significant growth in the number of lower-skilled temporary migrants in the South Island who help fill genuine labour shortages and have become well-settled here.

However, due to current temporary migration settings, many of these lower-skilled temporary migrants have no pathway to residence.

Today’s announcement delivers on our 2015 commitment to provide that group of migrants in the South Island with a pathway to residence.

The policy will allow eligible migrants to be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which would make them eligible for residence in two more years provided they stay in the same industry and region.

Well-settled migrants

Many of these migrants are already well settled in New Zealand and make a valuable contribution to their communities. The requirement to remain in the same region for a further two years after being granted residence ensures that commitment to the region continues.

It will also enable employers to retain an experienced workforce that has helped meet genuine regional labour market needs.

My National colleagues in the South Island have advocated strongly on behalf their constituents throughout the development of this policy, so I’m pleased the government has been able to deliver on our commitment to enable this cohort of migrant workers to remain in their communities.”

To be eligible, temporary visa holders must:

Currently be on an Essential Skills visa for a job in the South Island and have been on one in the South Island for five years or more.
Be 55 years old or younger
Hold current employment that is full-time and meets market rates and their employers would need to have no significant adverse record with the Labour Inspectorate or INZ.
Meet standard residence health and character requirements.
For more information, visit www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/south-island-pathway.

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