New visa policy for entertainment industry workers in New Zealand

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New Zealand's immigration department announced they will grant foreign entertainment industry workers easier access to New Zealand work visas if they are working for less than 14 days; It will not be necessary to seek the consent of local unions or guilds in this situation.

Currently unions and guilds (associations of workers in the same industry) have the right to object to foreign entertainment workers coming into New Zealand, if they believe a local actor could fill the role. The new policy, passed in September, and set to come into effect in March, means overseas entertainment workers no longer have to apply to unions and guilds for approval to enter the country on temporary contracts that are less than 14 days in duration.

Beginning in March, there will be two different New Zealand work visa application streams for entertainment workers: a streamlined process, without any guild or union referral, for applicants working in New Zealand less than two weeks; and another stream for other workers staying longer than two weeks that would be subject to industry-led labour market testing. Most applicants will qualify under the first stream.

The changes to New Zealand's immigration policy have left local unions and guilds fearing the new law will limit employment chances for local actors and musicians.

But the Government says it is streamlining the system and cited "ongoing concerns by big studios in Los Angeles" that New Zealand had become more difficult to do business with because of the immigration process.

In a recent statement, New Zealand Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman said the changes are being made to provide a simpler, more streamlined system.

"The existing policy is out-dated. It's been in place for 20 years and the entertainment industry has grown hugely over that time," he said. "We are removing a redundant, bureaucratic process which only served to make New Zealand a less attractive place for the screen and entertainment industry to do business."

"The economic activity and jobs generated are likely to outweigh any missed opportunities for Kiwi crew members and performers," said Coleman.

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