Ten thousand working holiday visa-holders will have their visas extended for another six months, but critics say it makes a mockery of last month’s much-hyped immigration reset.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the extension and other changes to essential skills visas would “provide employers with an assurance they can continue to access the current onshore workforce to help fill roles”.
Faafoi said the announcement would “put the minds of visa holders at ease knowing they can stay and work in New Zealand for the foreseeable future”.
Working holiday visa-holders are often younger tourists from foreign countries who pay for their holiday by working lower-skilled jobs. Many found themselves stuck in New Zealand as air travel closed down and countries closed their borders.
Working holiday visa-holders like Mine Bayson, 30, have been stuck in limbo for months.
Bayson, a Turkish citizen, said there was a pattern of “last-minute” announcements leaving people like her with little certainty right up until their visas were set to expire.
Mine Bayson says the delays between announcements has caused her and her friends a lot of stress.
“Every single day we are talking about this with our friends whenever we meet.“
“Some of them are lucky to have the opportunity that they can get a working holiday visa in Australia, but for me that’s not an option.”
Working holiday visa-holders like Bayson have little trouble securing employment here. To get a job in hospitality all she had to do was take a tour of the area’s cafés, then hand out her CV.
She got a job in Mount Maunganui within two days.
The Government came under pressure over the issue of temporary migration, pathways to residency, the Government’s immigration reset and an imminent working holiday visa scheme announcement at an education and workforce select committee meeting on Wednesday morning.
Holders of essential skills visas who earn less than the median wage will now be granted a longer stay on their visas with terms extended from six months to 12 months.
The implementation of a cooling-off period, where essential skills visa holders would have to spend one year outside the country after renewing their visa three times, has also been delayed till July 2022.