Visitor visa holders now eligible for seasonal jobs
Two weeks have passed since the Ministry declared a labour market shortage in Hawkes Bay. With half of Hawke’s Bay’s apples still waiting to be picked, the Government is extending the region’s seasonal worker labour shortage status to allow more time to find workers.
The labour shortage status means that all growers within the Hawke’s Bay area will be able to employ fruit pickers who are not necessarily New Zealand Jobseekers, and are here on visitor permits.Applications for the roles, even after the recent major recruitment drive, have been described as “modest” by orchard owners. Surprisingly, the majority of applicants have predominantly been locals, with few backpackers or visitors applying for the seasonal roles. Over 300 jobseekers have been placed in horticultural roles in Hawke’s Bay so far, with double that amount needed for a successful season.
The industry believes the lack of interest from travelers may be due to a lack of understanding about the visa variation process. The process is far less daunting than it sounds; overseas visitors, who already hold visitor permits, can apply to gain permits for working on orchards and vineyards by filling out a paper form which can be downloaded from the Immigration New Zealand website. There is a $170NZD fee to apply and if approved, it enables the person to work for up to six weeks
New Zealanders, and those on visitor or work visas, are encouraged to consider applying for these seasonal roles. It is a rare opportunity to earn some decent wages in some of the most beautiful regions in the country.
Seasonal work includes planting, maintaining, harvesting and picking crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.
Apple pickers will be required to pick three bins a day to “break even” with the national minimum wage – but a good picker could pick between six and eight bins a day. This would see employees earning $800-$1000 per week.
Around 14 million cartons of apples will be packed this year in the Hawke’s Bay, which is an additional two million cartons compared to last year. To apply for a variation of conditions, please visit Immigration NZ’s website and complete an application for a variation of conditions or a Variation of Travel Conditions form accessible from: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/documents/forms-and-guides/inz-1020-application-for-variation-travel-conditions-april-2016-fa-web.pdf