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Plenty of critical tech worker visas still up for grabs

Peter Griffin, Editor. 17 March 2022, 7:55 am

The Government's tech class exception to border restrictions, allowing up to 600 visas to be issued to highly skilled tech workers has received strong interest, but there are plenty of visas still to be allocated.

That's according to NZTech Chief Executive who used an ITP NZ webinar yesterday to dispel rumours that New Zealand's large tech companies had already scooped up the available visas for suitable offshore candidates.

"There haven't been any special deals or mass purchases or anything like that," he said. 

"It's steady as she goes, they are ticking on a fairly regular basis each week."

The Government yesterday brought forward the date for opening New Zealand back up to tourists, with Australians able to travel to New Zealand isolation-free from April 13. Other visa waiver countries will follow from May 2. 

That should also pave the way for freeing up border restrictions to allow more work visas to be issued to meet skills shortages, though Muller said, in the meantime, the tech class exemption offered an expedited path for organisations looking for skilled tech workers.

"Even though it is only a few months until the borders theoretically change, we've got this process going, it's working well."

Overseas talent wanted

The tech class exemption allows 600 specialist tech workers and their partners and dependent children to come to New Zealand and targets sectors most in need of overseas talent, including software development, product managers, cyber security and interactive media.

The tech class exemption scheme sees ITP NZ given the task of assessing the qualifications of visa applicants, who need to be nominated by a local company, but be based offshore when they apply for the visa.

Once ITP NZ makes an assessment of an applicant's qualifications, a process that can take 24 - 48 hours, immigration New Zealand then takes over. Working through the Critical Purpose Visitor Visa requirements can take up to four weeks.

The ITP NZ webinar heard from former ITP NZ chief executive Paul Matthews, who was instrumental in helping develop the industry's role in the scheme alongside Muller at NZTech, as well as licensed immigration advisors Jennifer DeWald-Harrison and Matthew Fistonich.

There's some complexity to navigate with the tech class exemption, but ITP NZ has created a guide to make it easy to work through the requirements. ITP members can also log into the ITP NZ website to download the slides from yesterday's webinar, which is available for playback in full here.


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Karen Gibson 17 March 2022, 9:41 am

What do industry insiders think could be done to enable these 600 specialists to pass down their expertise to existing mid-tier NZ tech professionals?

How could NZ based tech companies incorporate a strategy to leverage their incoming overseas talent to grow our own domestic workforce?

Does anyone think this saying has relevance to the possibilities here?: "Give someone a fish, feed them for a day; teach someone to fish, feed them for a lifetime."

Any thoughts?

Victoria MacLennan 30 March 2022, 6:59 pm

Kia ora Karen, great questions. This is just one of the many initiatives the Digital Industry Transformation Plan Skills workstream have identified.

Others areas of focus are all under the umbrella of growing our own talent. You can read more about this here

If you are keen to get involved please just let me know! Ngā mihi Vic

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