Employer accreditation policy changes

Employer accreditation policy changes – August 2017

Employer accreditation policy changes – August 2017

Employer accreditation policy changes – August 2017

Most employers will be aware that Immigration New Zealand (INZ) recently issued a very positive media release to confirm that applications for employer accreditation are now being granted for an initial period of two years, and once an accredited employer has held their (existing) accreditation for two years or more, will be eligible to be considered for a five year extension upon renewal.  This is welcome news for many of our clients who express ongoing issues with the requirement to move through a renewal process every 12 months.  While it is never appropriate to look a gift horse in the mouth, based on the new policy that has been released, this is clearly an exception to that rule.

While the positive attributes of the Employer Accreditation policy changes have been highlighted with some gusto, the real devil is in the detail of the policy that has now been fully released.  It is clear there are some quite substantial changes incorporated post-August 2017.

Generally speaking, there seems to be an understanding that when employers get to grips with the Essential Skills work visa changes, and also where they will have employees who could previously have applied for residency under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) who now cannot, there is going to be a logical increase in Employer Accreditation applications. This is because employers will aim to secure accreditation to help create a residency pathway and soften the negative effect that the temporary work visa and resident visa changes have created, in a retention sense.

It appears that the new policy changes that have come in have anticipated that surge of new applications, and therefore INZ have “beefed up” their expectations on what they expect to be proven for employers to be “trusted partners”.

Below are the main aspects that we believe employers need to be familiar with:

Provision of False or Misleading Information

INZ has included a new provision stating that an immigration officer is required to decline an application for accreditation if they are satisfied that an employer provided false or misleading information in support of an application, or withheld relevant information that was prejudicial to the grant of accreditation.  The operative word here to consider is the word “will”.  There is no discretion in relation to using the operative word of “may”.  This indicates a strict liability type of offense.

Employers need to be aware of this as it is a clear message that INZ expects employers to be open and honest with all dealings with them if they are to be considered a “trusted partner”.  There may be some temptation to employers to avoid the provision of information that will create extra work (such as explaining a relatively small number of redundancies), although there is now quite a clear policy expectation that INZ wants to receive all information to allow a fully informed decision to be made. Any short cuts could be met by a straight decline.

Further Policy Requirements

INZ have increased the requirements around an employer’s ability to demonstrate that they are in a sound financial position, has human resource policies in practices that are of a high standard, have a demonstrable commitment to training and employing New Zealand residents or resident class visa holders, and have good workplace practices.

Taking each of these in turn, here are some of the new factors that INZ are now taking into consideration for each of these important aspects (among others):

Sound Financial Position

  • Financial indicators such as reserves, profit, and equity levels;
  • Reserve capital;
  • Ability to sustain current and proposed employment; and
  • Accounts receivable.

Human Resource Policies and Practices which are of a High Standard

  • Work safe NZ or Labour Inspectorate findings;
  • Sample Employment Agreements;
  • Evidence of HR and Health and Safety policies and procedures;
  • Whether the employer is International Organisation for Standardization (IOS) certified; and
  • Feedback from relevant unions and other employee representatives.

Commitment to Training and Employing New Zealand Citizens or Residents

  • Whether the employer has engaged with the relevant Industry Training Organisation (ITO);
  • Evidence of training provided to staff who are New Zealand citizens or residents;
  • Whether the employer makes “genuine attempts” to recruit New Zealand citizens or residents to fill any vacancies;
  • The proportion of the employer’s workforce who are New Zealand citizens or residents;
  • Feedback from relevant unions and other employee representatives.

Workplace Practices

  • Whether the employer has diversity policies and practices in place as outlined by Diversity Works NZ;
  • The extent of any non-compliance with immigration or employment legislation;
  • Where there have been minor breaches of legislation the degree to which the employer has put in place remedies to prevent similar breaches in the future;
  • Policies and processes the employer has put in place to ensure they remain in compliance with immigration and employment legislation;
  • Feedback from relevant unions and other employee representatives.

Although these requirements tend to blend over existing requirements, employers will note with interest that some of the points listed above go far beyond previous expectations.  A number of these are not only new but have far reaching consequences for some existing employers who hold accreditation.

Group Accreditation No Longer Permitted

This is a change that has been signaled for a while and is therefore no surprise.  The current INZ system makes it very difficult to track employees employed under “group” accreditation, so we anticipate that even applications that are made for group accreditation as an exception to the Instructions may well be bounced back.

INZ has however been accommodating on alignment (timing) of related entity accreditation recently, and have also applied discount application processing fees where applicable, so viewed together with the extension to the accreditation period we think will make this change palatable to our clients who hold group accreditation.

Audit Ability

INZ has introduced the policy that allows them to order an employer to ensure they continue to meet the requirements of accreditation any time during the period of accreditation.  Therefore, we anticipate INZ would undertake some type of audit or checking process during that 5-year renewal term (similar to the renewal assessment that has currently been undertaken yearly). Audits will also no doubt be undertaken where there has been some alleged breach of visa conditions or immigration regulations.

Revocation Now Easier

Previously only the Minister of Immigration (or appropriately scheduled high-level managers) could make a decision to revoke Employer Accreditation status.  This is no longer the case.  INZ is now more easily able to revoke accreditation for a range of issues. The most common cause we believe we will see are issues where the employer has failed (in some respect) to comply with New Zealand immigration or employment regulations.

What about the $55,000 Remuneration Level?

A major point of interest is the back track by INZ on the salary level required for temporary work to residence visas.  It currently sits at NZ$55,000, and initial indications from INZ were that they would look to adjust this up to sit at around NZ$70,000.  This is no longer the case.  INZ has advised they plan to keep that salary at the present level, but will be reviewing this “next year”.

While it is a surprise for INZ to back track on this, in context it is actually not completely unexpected.  INZ would have a mutiny on their hands if they announced any significant salary adjustment at the same time as adjusting the SMC and Essential Skills Work Visa policies so much. Waiting to review this until next year is smart for two relevant reasons:

They would not like to release this prior to a general election as it will attract significant push back and therefore negative media attention; and

All the new policy changes will need to be reviewed prior to adjusting this rate to make sure the other adjustments have been balanced correctly.

Watch this space.  There will be a flood of new applications, and declines in this area.  They will look to slowly adjust that salary level up in line with the rates that will be adjusted every November on the SMC and Essential Skills work visa categories.

What All This Means

The Employer Accreditation policy has become more complicated, will become more exclusive to push out smaller employers who will wish to gain accreditation due to the policy changes made to the Essential Skills and SMC resident visa policies hard to manage, and INZ have exchanged longer renewal terms for audit ability and real teeth to deal with non-compliance.

Employers who have not yet filed an accreditation application or are looking to renew their application, must heed these policy objectives because they will be applied rigorously during that application process Therefore, it may be appropriate to seek professional advice and guidance to structure the application and the associated documentation that will be required to gain or renew accreditation well before the application is anticipated.

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Details of new refugee category announced

Details of new refugee category announced

Details of new refugee category announced

Details of new refugee category announced

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced details of a new Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship category to complement the annual refugee quota.

“When the Government announced an increase to the refugee quota last year, we also committed to piloting a Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship category,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Today’s announcement delivers on that commitment and provides an alternative form of admission for refugees wanting to resettle in New Zealand.”

The key objectives of the category include:

  • Providing an opportunity for community organisation to be actively engaged in refugee resettlement, and in doing so, to build local communities that welcome refugees.
  • Enabling sponsored refugees to quickly become independent and self-sufficient in New Zealand.
  • Providing an alternative form of admission for refugees to complement our annual refugee quota.

Applicants will need to have a basic understanding of English, have a minimum of three years’ work experience (or a qualification requiring at least two years’ tertiary study), have an acceptable standard of health and be aged between 18 and 45.

“An initial pilot of the category will test the objectives of the category by providing for 25 refugees to be nominated by sponsoring community organisations on the basis they can achieve self-sufficiency and participate in society quickly,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“This is an excellent opportunity for community organisations to take the lead in providing resettlement options for some refugees and further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to fulfilling our international humanitarian obligations to provide support and protection to refugees.”

A call for expressions of interest from potential sponsoring community organisations will be made by Immigration New Zealand in October this year with successful organisations decided before the end of the year. The first refugees are expected to arrive in New Zealand by June next year.

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British Columbia Launches Immigration Tech Pilot

BC Launches Immigration Tech Pilot

British Columbia Launches Immigration Tech Pilot

British Columbia Launches Immigration Tech Pilot

With demand for talent outpacing supply, the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) is looking to attract more workers and graduates in the technology sector to the province.

The new Tech Pilot is part of the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP), one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Through this pilot, eligible candidates with a job offer in one of 32 eligible occupations may be invited to apply for a provincial nomination, which may then be used to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

The BC PNP will issue invitations on a weekly basis to qualified registrants in the BC PNP registration system, while also continuing to invite non-tech candidates through its other immigration initiatives. Candidates invited under the Tech Pilot will benefit from expedited processing under the BC PNP.

Applicants require a full-time, indeterminate job offer from an eligible employer in BC. The BC PNP offers different categories for individuals under its registration System, depending on their job, work experience, and level of education.

Once a candidate has determined his or her category, he or she may register online for free and receive a registration score. Every week (subject to processing capacity), the BC PNP will conduct a tech draw to invite the highest-scoring technology sector registrants to apply. From this point, invited candidates have up to 30 calendar days from the date of invitation to submit a complete online application. The government application fee is $700.

BC has stated that it will process tech applications on a priority basis. If approved, the applicant receives a nomination that he or she can use to apply for permanent residence.

Individuals who have been nominated and who meet the conditions of their nomination will receive a work permit support letter that allows them to obtain or renew their current work permit allowing them to work throughout the process.

Eligible occupations for the BC PNP Tech Pilot

Occupation NOC
Purchasing managers 0113
Telecommunication carriers managers 0131
Managers – publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting and performing arts 0512
Professional occupations in advertising, marketing, and public relations 1123
Civil engineers 2131
Mechanical engineers 2132
Electrical and electronics engineers 2133
Chemical engineers 2134
Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) 2147
Information systems analysts and consultants 2171
Database analysts and data administrators 2172
Software engineers and designers 2173
Computer programmers and interactive media developers 2174
Web designers and developers 2175
Biological technologists and technicians 2221
Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians 2241
Electronic service technicians (household and business equipment) 2242
Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics 2243
Computer network technicians 2281
User support technicians 2282
Information systems testing technicians 2283
Business development officers and marketing researchers and consultants 4163
Authors and writers 5121
Editors 5122
Translators, terminologists and interpreters 5125
Broadcast technicians 5224
Audio and video recording technicians 5225
Other technical and coordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting, and the performing arts 5226
Support occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting, photography and the performing arts 5227
Graphic designers and illustrators 5241
Technical sales specialists – wholesale trade 6221
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Job Match Service Comes into Effect for Employers Hiring Temporary Foreign Workers

Job Match Service Comes into Effect for Employers Hiring Temporary Foreign Workers

Job Match Service Comes into Effect for Employers Hiring Temporary Foreign Workers

Job Match Service Comes into Effect for Employers Hiring Temporary Foreign Workers

A new rating system matching open job positions with job seekers has come into effect. As of August 28, employers hiring under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) must use the new system and invite potential hires who meet a certain threshold of compatibility with the job posting to apply for the position advertised.

The government of Canada calls this feature ‘Job Match’, and employers will easily be able to access the service through their personal dashboard in the Canada Job Bank.

The introduction of Job Match effects both high-wage and low-wage Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications. Employers hiring through the TFWP must first obtain a positive LMIA before a foreign worker may be hired. The issuance of a LMIA serves as proof that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident was ready, willing, and able to perform the job.

Not all foreign workers require a LMIA, as not all hiring of foreign workers is conducted through the TFWP. LMIA-exempt hiring situations are managed under the International Mobility Program (IMP), a broad category that includes initiatives such as the Intra-Company transfer program, the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, and recruitment through NAFTA, among others.

LMIA advertising requirements

Unless there is a way for an employer to hire a foreign worker under the IMP, and unless otherwise exempt from advertising in the preliminary process of obtaining a LMIA — as some hiring situations allow — employers are required to adhere to certain advertising requirements before applying for a LMIA.

As of August 28, employers, irrespective of province or territory, are required to advertise on Job Bank and conduct at least two additional methods of recruitment that are consistent with the occupation. Employers from a province or territory with a provincial or territorial job board must use Job Bank, but may also use the provincial or territorial job board as one of the additional recruitment methods.

High-wage and low-wage positions

The LMIA process is different depending on whether the position is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Jobs in which the employee is to be paid less than the provincial/territorial median wage for the occupation are considered low-wage, while those to be paid at or above the median are considered high-wage.

Employers hiring in a high-wage scenario will be required to invite all job seekers matched within the first 30 days of the job advertisement on Job Bank to apply for the position if they are rated four stars or more.

Employers hiring in a low-wage scenario will be required to invite all job seekers matched within the first 30 days of the job advertisement on Job Bank to apply for the position if they are rated two stars or more.

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Saskatchewan Increases Intake for Popular Immigration Sub-Categories

Saskatchewan Increases Intake for Popular Immigration Sub-Categories

Saskatchewan Increases Intake for Popular Immigration Sub-Categories

Saskatchewan Increases Intake for Popular Immigration Sub-Categories

The Canadian province of Saskatchewan has increased the annual application intake thresholds for two popular immigration sub-categories of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP), with more applications likely to be accepted before the end of 2017.

Increased allocations have been assigned to the SINP International Skilled Worker – Express Entry sub-category and the International Skilled Worker – Occupations In-Demand sub-category.

Since first being launched in 2015, both of these SINP sub-categories have proved popular among a diverse range of applicants. Neither sub-category requires applicants to have a job offer from a Canadian employer, and successful applicants receive a provincial nomination, which may be used to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for Canadian permanent residence. The spouse/common-law partner of the applicant, as well as dependent children, may also be included on the application.

Applicants under either sub-category must have work experience in an occupation that is in demand by the province of Saskatchewan and score at least 60 points out of 100 on the SINP assessment grid.

The Occupations In-Demand sub-category category results in successful applicants obtaining a nomination certificate, which can then be used to then apply for Canadian permanent residence outside the federal Express Entry immigration system. This stream may be attractive to individuals who have not entered the Express Entry pool, as it has a lower minimum language requirement (Canadian Language Benchmark level 4) than any program managed under the Express Entry system.

The Express Entry sub-category requires candidates to have an existing Express Entry profile. Successful applicants obtain 600 additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, placing them at the head of the line for selection in a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool. After being selected, candidates can apply for permanent residence through Express Entry, with IRCC processing most applications within six months.

Quotas

Each of these sub-categories has opened multiple times in 2017, often reaching their intake within days. The most recent application intake period for the Occupations In-Demand sub-category occurred in August 2017, when it opened for 1,200 applications and filled within a day. The Express Entry sub-category most recently opened in July to 600 applicants, filling within four days.

August 22 announcement

The government of Saskatchewan announced online on August 22 that the maximum number of applications that may be accepted under these SINP International Skilled Worker sub-categories would increase, pointing to potential future intake periods for these sub-categories, both of which operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

The addition of 900 additional applications under the Express Entry sub-category represents an increase of 53 percent from the previously stated maximum number of applications.

“Based on previous intake periods, potential applicants to the Express Entry sub-category may only be able to successfully submit an application and obtain a provincial nomination if they prepare in advance. The SINP does not give advance warning as to exactly when an intake period may take place, meaning that individuals who prepare in advance are better positioned to submit an application when the sub-category suddenly reopens for new applications. The range of documentation required from applicants by the SINP is more extensive than the documentation required to create an Express Entry profile,” says Attorney David Cohen.

“Similarly, potential applicants to the Occupations In-Demand sub-category are more likely to be successful if they are prepared to submit an application as quickly as possible upon the sub-category reopening, as intake periods for this sub-category have also typically been short.”

Occupations list

Near the end of July, the occupations list for both sub-categories was expanded to include 42 occupations, around half of which require applicants to have obtained professional licensure from a designated organization before the SINP may process the application.

A slight change to the list was made soon after, with one occupation removed and another added. It cannot be predicted with certainty whether the government of Saskatchewan will make additional changes, or if these sub-categories will reopen with the current eligibility criteria.

No licensure required

NOC     OCCUPATION

0124    Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers

0423    Managers in social, community and correctional services

1112    Financial and investment analysts

1122    Managers in Professional occupations in business management consulting

1123    Professional occupations in advertising, marketing, and public relations

2211    Chemical technologists and technicians

2212    Geological and mineral technologists and technicians

2121    Biologists and related scientists

2123    Agricultural representatives, consultants, and specialists

2225    Landscape and horticulture technicians and specialists

2231    Civil engineering technologists and technicians

2241    Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians

2242    Electronic service technicians (household and business equipment)

2243    Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics

2253    Drafting technologists and technicians

0811    Managers in natural resources production and fishing

0821    Managers in agriculture

0911    Manufacturing managers

0912    Utility managers

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