A short-term contractors’ work-visa could be the possible solution to the complex dyad facing New Zealand, with Kiwi-businesses struggling for the employable skilled workforce, and simultaneously ensuring the overall welfare of the migrant workers while they are in the country, argues immigration lawyer Aaron Martin.

“New Zealand is part of a global shortage of skilled workers. At the same time, there are thousands of skilled migrant contractors in the worldwide talent pool that Kiwi employers can’t hire. 

“An ideal solution to the issue would be to introduce a new visa category that enables skilled migrants to work as contractors not linked to a single employer,” said Aaron Martin.

Recently, the changes announced by the government earlier this year of taking away the requirement of having the post-study-work-visa sponsored by any particular employer came into effect on November 26.

The Immigration Minister Iain Lees Galloway had then announced employer-assisted work visas as the biggest source of exploitation for migrant workers, especially international students seeking permanent residency in the country.

The changes that came into effect on November 26 did not include essential skill work visa regime, which still requires temporary skilled-migrant workers to be tied to a particular employer.

However, immigration law expert Mr Martin believes that the current work-visa regime of keeping workers attached to particular employers is based on conventional 9-5 pm work type, which is not fully serving Kiwi-businesses and economy.

“The nature of work is evolving with the constant changes in technology.

“Employment is no longer as straightforward as it once was: fewer people are working for long durations with a single employer, and more people are taking up contracts that allow them flexibility with projects and clients, as well as places and times of work. The 9-5, Monday to Friday workweek is becoming less prevalent, and agile and remote working is becoming the norm,” said Mr Martin.

The changing employment work conditions are more relevant in digital and Information and Technology related work, thereby suggesting that the temporary contractor style work visa would be most beneficial for the sector.

“Digital transformation is global, and the skills New Zealand needs are also in high demand worldwide.

“This is potentially where the contractors’ visa would hold most value, as highly skilled candidates, value flexibility.

“A visa for contractors would bring several benefits for New Zealand employers. If employers were able to fill roles facing skill shortages with international candidates on a short-term contract there would be less admin, increased flexibility and choice, and, importantly, economic gains through value for money and future-proofing.

“Even companies interested in longer-term employees would see the benefit, as this allows them to assess skill suitability and fit within the business before committing to a permanent hire,” said Mr Martin.

However, issuing temporary work-visas to foreign workers is currently less-preferred by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), purely because it would mean there was no employer to hold accountable for breaches of immigration and labour laws.