Queenstown streamlines visa process

Temporary changes to immigration rules will further help Queenstown employers recruit much needed staff, Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced today.

A new streamlined visa process means that from now until June 2015, employers in Queenstown will be temporarily exempt from providing evidence of an attempt to recruit within New Zealand, except for roles that Work and Income has identified it may be able to fill.

Initial steps towards streamlining the visa process were made in December, and this change further extends the support to employers in Queenstown.

“The tourism industry in Queenstown is experiencing strong growth, with spending by international visitors up 36 per cent in December compared to 12 months ago,” explained Minister Bennett. “While this is great news for the industry, it has created some unique challenges for operators struggling to recruit enough staff with the right skills to help with the increased demand,”

“This has been compounded by Queenstown’s tight labour market, and a relatively high cost of living.”

Minister Woodhouse added: “The change announced today puts a temporary hold on the requirement for employers to conduct a Labour Market Test for higher skilled applications, which will relieve immediate pressures in Queenstown while wider work to address issues is underway.

“The streamlined immigration process will be in place from now until 30th June 2015 and will significantly shorten the time it takes to process temporary work visas.”

As part of this work the ministers will visit Queenstown in early March to meet with representatives from the tourism industry and local tourism operators.

“Getting this right is crucial for the continued success of our tourism industry at a time of record international visitor numbers, and our ability to provide the fantastic New Zealand experience our visitors expect,” concluded Bennett.