Tourism employers and their valuable workers from overseas will be delighted by the announcement of a simplified pathway to residency, said Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
The new one-off residence pathway will be available to around 165,000 migrants currently in New Zealand. About 17,000 workers in the accommodation and food sectors, plus other overseas workers currently employed across tourism and hospitality, are also likely to be eligible.
They will qualify to apply if they have been in New Zealand for three years or more, or are being paid over $27 an hour.
"This is a much broader and promises to be a far simpler pathway to residency for overseas workers,” said TIA chief executive Chris Roberts.
With our borders shut, the overseas workers on temporary work visas who have stayed in New Zealand have been invaluable contributors. Now many can apply to stay here permanently.
A shortage of skilled and experienced workers is a major concern for tourism employers. In May, 22 percent of TIA members reported they were not confident they could meet their staffing needs when international travellers returned and demand picked up. Businesses in Queenstown, Canterbury and Auckland in particular were finding it hard to fill vacancies.
The expected 100,000 plus applications will test Immigration New Zealand's processing abilities. However, TIA has been told anyone waiting for a resident application to be processed will have their temporary work visa extended.
“The policy won’t necessarily ease demand for seasonal staff this summer, as it is not adding more people to the pool,” said Roberts.
“However, employers will be delighted to know they can hang on to valued staff, and those employees will be excited that they and their families can have a long-term future in New Zealand.”