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Bureaucratic Battle To Get Visas Extended Despite Labour Shortage

essential skills visa

Migrant workers already in New Zealand are struggling to get visas renewed on time to take up work for the calving season, which is beginning.

The Clark-Watts couple arrived in New Zealand in February 2020 on a working holiday visa, just before Covid 19 border closures. They did not qualify for a visa extension but were instead approved a Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visa after an employer sponsored them. Recently, they had extensions to those visas approved under the direction of Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi

The couple has been working all over the country to fill labour shortages.

A trained primary school teacher, Clark had applied for a skilled migrant visa prior to the extension for SSE visa holders being announced last month. Immigration advised her not to withdraw her application until her extension had been confirmed, which was due to happen on June 25.

The confirmation never came. Instead, she was placed on an interim visa which did not allow her to work. At the same time Watts was granted the extension for his seasonal work visa, and his essential skills visa application was withdrawn. The couple is confused why the husband was not placed on an interim visa.

Clark was thankful for the last-minute approval, which meant the couple could work the calving season. They feel the process should be streamlined given the severe labour shortage. Australia and Canada had a made it much easier for migrant workers.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman stated visa processing was taking seven to eight weeks. Calving was already happening in some regions.

Applications for visas for 200 overseas dairy workers under a border exception were now open, as per a statement from Dairy NZ.

Dairy NZ will continue to ask the Government to allow class exceptions to have their own allotment of managed isolation and quarantine spaces and to urge it to fast track residency applications for migrant workers on dairy farms. Both of those processes are very important to retain foreign farm staff in New Zealand.

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Vandana Rai

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Vandana Rai is a Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser and has built a reputation around her rare set of skills, which could be considered ideal for her legal profession.

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