Practical, clear pathways to immigration – McVeagh Fleming's immigration specialists have experience with the immigration process in New Zealand and can provide you with professional and practical advice on immigration requirements and visa types.

As experts in our field, McVeagh Fleming can assist with any aspect of immigration to New Zealand, and a migrant’s right to remain in the country. As a full-service law firm, this also means that we have access to other legal experts to assist, such as with business plans, property, custody issues, and tax. We can also assist employers with all aspects of the employment process, working alongside our employment law team to help ensure that employers comply both with their employment obligations, but also with the newer immigration requirements.

Our approach to immigration

Our default approach to client service is what others seem to want to charge more for. We believe that all clients should be able to contact their legal advisors for an update, and we’ll regularly check with Immigration New Zealand on all applications to keep clients up to date. We will talk through any issues that arise, and provide you with a copy of any submissions or responses before they are made so that you can be sure that what is being provided is correct. We’ll also provide clients with access to their applications when requested, allowing our clients to see what has been done, and to watch for any progress on their application.

People are often price-conscious when it comes to legal services, often not wanting to provide their lawyer with what they see as useless information but may be more significant than they realise. To help with this, we can provide fixed fees for most of our services, allowing clients certainty as to cost. We believe that our fees are also competitive, less than people would often expect, and we often find that we are fixing applications for clients who had paid an advisor more for a lesser quality of service.

We also take an approach of complete honesty with clients as to their eligibility. We do not like to see our clients wasting their time and money on submitting applications that they are unlikely to be granted. Our services are also in high demand due to the successes we achieve for our clients, so we would prefer to not spend time on applications that we know will have issues. If instructed, we will continue with an application, but we prefer clients to be completely aware of any issues that may arise.

Accredited Employer Work Visa

The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) process has been a significant change to the employment process in New Zealand since its introduction. It took the number of steps in the process from one to three, splitting up the application and requiring elements of foresight and planning. It also added several new obligations on employers, with compliance being required to maintain the right to employ migrants and random checks now taking place.

We can assist employers with all stages of the process, going from accreditation to the job check and finally to the work visa itself. We’ll also provide employers with the documentation and tools necessary for them to comply with new immigration obligations. With our employment law team, we can also be there to work on any employment matters that arise, even if it’s just making sure that your documentation complies with the Employment Relations Act 2000, which is an immigration requirement.

Employers may find this insight on the compliance regime, and the impact of the AEWV on business purchases of use.

We can also act for employees in the submitting of AEWV, helping them gain a pathway to New Zealand, or the opportunity to remain in this country.

Skilled Migrant Category / Straight to Residence / Work to Residence / Sector Agreement Residence

The past two years have seen a complete replacement of the primary residence scheme, with several new initiatives. The Work to Residence and Straight to Residence were initially introduced as a stop-gap measure to help prevent a loss of skilled staff to other countries during the staff shortages seen during and post the pandemic. These remain in place but, over time, they will be replaced by the new Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) that was introduced in late 2023 to replace the old Skilled Migrant Category. The sector agreement residence options, being aimed at the care workforce and transport sectors, are in place at present as these roles don’t meet the requirements for the other residence visa options. We expect these will also be removed at some point if/when any outstanding shortage for these roles subsides.

The new SMC simplifies the former Skilled Migrant Category, making it a six-point requirement rather than a 180-point requirement, and limiting the source of those six points. It also moves the application to be online, helping with processing time and changing the documentation requirements. The same requirements as to the role meeting requirements to ANZSCO continue and continue to be the main failing point for most applicants who come to us after being declined.

Our approach to all of these visas is to first look at eligibility. We will be honest with clients if they will have difficulty with an application, and our knowledge of immigration decisions in the Immigration and Protection Tribunal gives us a greater insight into which roles are more or less likely to have issues gaining residence. We often have enquiries from applicants who have been declined for visas that we would have advised against. We then handle the full application, from any initial Expression of Interest where applicable, to the application itself, and then any ongoing communication that may be received from Immigration New Zealand. Our clients can be confident that the application is being monitored regularly, and we keep them informed of any change in status.

Partnership-based visas and dependent children

Many of our clients are partners trying to reunite with their families and have previously been declined. For many, partnership-based visas are not straightforward, with issues as to interpretation and evidence, as well as a misapplication of instructions, leading to visas being declined. We have been able to turn these around for almost all these clients, providing a pathway to New Zealand to allow them to be with their loved ones.

For those already living together, this is often the simplest pathway to maintaining a place in New Zealand. However, the evidentiary requirements often cause issues, particularly those from certain countries.

We can assist clients with all of these applications.

Dependent children can also be an issue, especially for those who are under 16 and whose parents have separated. This will then require looking at the handling of their home country’s laws on custody by Immigration New Zealand, something we have handled for clients from several different countries. We also have access to our family law team where issues as to custody in New Zealand may arise.

Conviction and health issues

For many people, issues in their past or problems with their health can cause complications with the applications. We can assist clients with the handling of applications for these issues or responding to RFI/PPI letters from Immigration New Zealand. Depending on the application type, Immigration New Zealand will have different requirements and processes. Utilising our experience, we can often help people provide the best evidence, or provide evidence that diminishes the impact such issues have on an application. This is something we have had significant success with, taking the approach of answering the questions asked and assisting Immigration New Zealand in granting the visa. We will also be honest with applicants who have issues that are likely to make a visa unlikely or impossible and provide you with other possible options.

Affidavits and expert legal advice for the courts

We are often called upon to provide an affidavit, as immigration experts, on the impact of convictions to a migrant’s status in New Zealand. A conviction for an applicant for any visa type, or for someone on a residence class visa, could possibly lead to that visa being declined, or a visa being withdrawn. What the court may handle with a fine could result in a migrant being unable to remain in New Zealand. We assist clients with affidavits that provide the court with clear guidance on the implications of a conviction, assisting for either a lower charge or, ideally, a s106 discharge without conviction under the Sentencing Act 2002.

Immigration and Protection Tribunal

For many, the Immigration Protection Tribunal will be their final opportunity for a visa, either seeking to overturn an Immigration New Zealand decision or appealing on humanitarian grounds. These are significant applications and are effectively an appeal being submitted to a tribunal at the same level as the District Court. For this reason, we would always recommend that such appeals be made by a lawyer with expertise in this area. They also need to be made with some urgency, with only six weeks available to submit an appeal to the Tribunal once a decision is made or someone has been made unlawful. For those looking at humanitarian grounds, this is something we will often have started working on some time before the six-week period starts, with research into a variety of areas, often going beyond just the obvious. However, we can also act quickly on such matters when required, handling such matters with urgency.

We believe that our results at the Immigration and Protection Tribunal speak for themselves, including setting precedents that others have now followed.

At times we may also look at other pathways such as seeking a ministerial intervention, a complaint to Immigration New Zealand, or seeking the involvement of the Ombudsman. We’ll advise you on which pathways may be open to you, and if that pathway is likely to provide a favourable response.

By coming to McVeagh Fleming you will know that your application is being handled by experts in the field, with years of experience and staff recognised as experts in the industry. We believe that you will also experience customer service and transparency as to your application prospects and ongoing handling of the file. You also get access to a wealth of related expertise that may be relevant to your matter.

Recent Insights

July 2022

The New Zealand immigration Green List - green for go?

In 2020, while the entire world was distressed about Covid-19 and borders were closing, Immigration New Zealand ("INZ") decided to close the tap on skilled migration. A decision was made to suspend the selection of expressions of interest (also known as EOI). The selections normally occurred on a fortnightly basis and would result in a selected candidate receiving an Invitation to Apply for Residence under the Skilled Migrant Category. The suspension remains in place at the time of this article.
See More
May 2022

Accredited Employer Work Visa - the new visa and what you need to know

Significant changes are coming to the immigration sector in New Zealand, which will have major repercussions on employers who are intending to hire migrants to work in New Zealand. The Accredited Employer Work Visa ("AEWV") is a new temporary work visa being introduced on 4 July 2022. This new visa is one step in the Government's five step plan for reconnecting New Zealand to the world after the Covid-19 pandemic.
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