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Press release: Dairy industry immigration experts applaud review of migrant work visa policy

  • Immigration Minister’s announcement on changes to migrant work visa policy welcomed by leading dairy industry immigration lawyer, Ben De’Ath
  • 7,500 signature petition presented by De’Ath to Parliament earlier this month key to Immigration Minister’s announcement
  • De’Ath, managing director of immigration & recruitment firm The Regions, says changes to policy essential for growth of New Zealand’s dairy farming industry

A review of proposed changes to New Zealand’s migrant work visa policy, which could have catastrophic effects to the country’s dairy farming industry, has been welcomed by leading immigration law and recruitment expert, Ben De’Ath.

The review, announced by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway in Ashburton today, was an outcome De’Ath and his team had hoped for after presenting a 7,500 signature petition Stand Against the Stand Down to Parliament earlier this month.

“Three months ago we set out to raise the Immigration Minister’s awareness of the devastating effects the proposed stand down policy of low skilled migrant visa holders would have on New Zealand’s greatest export industry – dairy farming. We received a groundswell of sector and public support for a review of the proposed changes so we are immensely pleased to know Mr Lees-Galloway is listening and, most importantly, acting in response to this.”

De’Ath, managing director of The Regions Immigration Law and Recruitment, has already seen the effects New Zealand’s current immigration policies is having on the country’s dairy farming labour shortage.

“We have highly skilled migrant farm managers who are leaving New Zealand with the skills, knowledge and experience to run productive dairy farms, taking up work in Australia where they can guarantee permanent residency and greater security for them and their families. Our farmers are being left without the reliable, hardworking labour force they need to provide the contribution to the dairy sector the Government requires if they are to reach their ambitious goal of doubling commodity exports by 2025.”

De’Ath said while the outcome is positive, it’s not the end. “Having the government agree that changes are needed was the major hurdle to overcome. Now we need to ensure the voices of regional New Zealand, and all our industries, are heard during the consultation process.”

The Stand Against the Stand Down petitioned against three points, two of which have been accepted:

  1. To introduce regional skills shortage lists to make it easier for migrants to fill job vacancies in regional areas.
  2. To review temporary visa changes, including stand down periods for lower skilled migrants and family entitlements for lower-skilled workers.

“We will continue to lobby on our third point which is greater access to New Zealand residence in certain parts of New Zealand and industry and sector agreements,” De’Ath said.

De’Ath is calling on the public to participate in the consultation process and contribute towards the changes, which will be drawn up in early 2019.

For more information

Ben De’Ath
Managing Director
The Regions Immigration Law and Recruitment
M: 022 278 7285

About The Regions

The Regions is an immigration law company that supports New Zealand dairy farm owners and migrants to New Zealand. By providing a holistic immigration, recruitment and settling-in service, The Regions works to better the lives of migrants seeking a new life in New Zealand and provides employment solutions to the agricultural industry.

To date, The Regions has placed over 1200 work visa holders on 400 dairy farms across New Zealand. The 24-person company provides immigration, recruitment and ongoing pastoral care and support to new migrants and New Zealand dairy farmers.

About the proposed stand down policy

As of August 2020, current Immigration Policy suggests “low skilled” dairy workers would be “stood down” from living and working in New Zealand after three years on a one-year work visa. This proposed policy change would apply to every dairy farm staff member who is not a 2IC or Manager, earning at least $60,000 including the value of their on-farm housing.


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