Aged care providers are gearing up to voice their concerns over proposed changes to the immigration settings. Many providers rely heavily on the migrant workforce and are worried about the negative impact of what has been tabled by Minister for Immigration Michael Woodhouse.

Some of the changes – namely those affecting the Skilled Migrant Category visa and the introduction of the ‘South Island Contribution visa’ – are confirmed and will be implemented in the coming months. However, the review of temporary migrant work settings under the Essential Skills visa category is open for consultation, providing aged care providers the opportunity to voice their concerns.

The proposed changes include a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders (those on temporary visas), after which there will be a minimum stand-down period of one year outside of New Zealand before they can apply for another lower-skilled Essential Skills visa.

The changes will also look to align the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand, with the new skill levels. Partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders will be expected to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right.

Also proposed is the introduction of remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder; this is to align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for residence applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category.

The New Zealand Aged Care Association believes that some of these proposed changes are likely to have a negative impact on the sector and intends to put submission to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The Association has asked its members for feedback to inform its submission, particularly around the number of caregivers each facility has, how many have been on a temporary visa for two years or more, and how many New Zealanders have unsuccessfully applied for caregiving roles.

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