Visa Changes for Migrants a Game Changer

Hospitality NZ has welcomed the Government’s changes to visa settings to allow onshore migrants to help fill labour shortages.

“This is a game-changer for the hospitality sector with the high season right on us,” said Chief Executive Julie White.

“Extending employer-assisted work visas and Working Holiday visas for six months, and postponing the stand-down period for low-paid Essential Skills visa holders will potentially give desperate operators access to many thousands of chefs, duty managers, and wait staff right when they need them so they can make the most of the summer season.

“Summer trading is key to carrying many operators through winter, and to miss out would have meant next winter would have been even bleaker than this year in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown. We were at a stage when many were struggling to cope without enough skilled workers – to a point where they were reducing opening hours and cutting back from seven to six days and even to five just to ensure they could give staff a break because they had no backups.

“Many will now be able to have a more relaxed Christmas knowing they are more likely to get the staff they need. Employing New Zealanders first remains a top priority for our industry, but until we can shift perceptions and attract and train more, we are not in a position to fill these roles without turning to migrants, who will continue to play a vital role in the sector’s future.

“COVID-19 and its aftermath are no one’s fault – we are all trying our best, and to be open and operating is a blessing. Especially as we look overseas and see many countries going back into lockdown. Hospitality NZ has been talking to the Government about the visa issue, and I would like to acknowledge the work Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has put into addressing this problem. This is a great result.”