Across New Zealand, thousands of restaurateurs turned off their lights for a few minutes on Tuesday 6 July at 11.30 am to protest the Government’s immigration policy, which excludes the hospitality industry from employer-assisted visa extensions.
The restaurant industry is facing a critical labour shortage due to the ongoing border restrictions. Three Auckland restaurants will be closed for two weeks due to staff shortage during school holidays.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said most of the temporary visa-holders were on Essential Skills Work Visas and there was still no plan to extend these.
Though the Government has extended Working Holiday Visas, it is not enough. The Association is calling for urgent additional visa extensions for Employer Assisted Work Visa holders currently in New Zealand, border exceptions for critical workers from the hospitality industry and extended working hours for Student Visa holders.
In response to the protest, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi stated that the government regularly reviews and adjusts border settings.
About 10,000 Working Holiday and Supplementary Seasonal Work Visas have been extended. Open work rights have been given to supplementary seasonal employer work scheme visa-holders, allowing them to work in any sector, including hospitality.
Also, the duration of Essential Skills Visas for jobs paid below the median wage would be increased from six to twelve months, to align with pre-Covid settings.
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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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