Summerfruit growers and packhouse managers will be pretty happy with the Government's decision to extend Working Holiday Visas (WHV) and Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visas in time for the summer harvest season.
More than 8,500 people on WHV and SSE work visas due to expire between 21 December 2021 and 30 June 2022 will benefit from the six month extension.
The decision, announced by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi today, was welcomed by Summerfuit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom, who (alongside other horticulture groups), has been working with government officials and providing them with information on the expected labour shortage.
In a statement released by his office, the Minister said: 'This offers employers and visa holders the certainty they’ve been asking for going into this summer’s harvest season and which we said we’d provide, if necessary, back in June when we announced the last six month extension.'
The visa holders will also continue to have open work rights, allowing them to work in any sector to help meet labour market demands where they exist.
'It will allow employers across a range of industries to make use of the onshore workforce while our border restrictions are in place, but it’s important to remember that these extensions are only temporary measures.
'We remain committed to our long-term vision for New Zealand’s immigration system, which involves sectors moving away from a reliance on low-paid and low-skilled migrant workers and transitioning to new ways of attracting, training and upskilling Kiwis into jobs and investing in productivity measures that will support New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery.
'Some sectors have already made great progress in this space, but there is still more work to be done.
'I encourage sectors and employers to use this time while our border restrictions are in place to think about how to make this transition and how to recruit more New Zealanders into roles before looking to utilise temporary migrant workers,' Kris Faafoi said.
Immigration New Zealand will contact all visa holders eligible for the Working Holiday or SSE visa extension by the end of November.