Government announce further changes to the Partner of a Worker Work visa

The government has announced its intended modification to the Partner of a Worker Work visa pathway. Coming into effect on 31 May, 2023, the change will allow partners of temporary migrant workers the ability to apply for a work visa directly from offshore but limit that work right by imposition of conditions on the nature of employer and the pay rate for work that must be met by the visa holder. 

Immigration lawyer Aaron Martin discusses the new changes and shares his expert opinion on why these changes will only lead to the same outcome for many migrant partners. 

Government under pressure

It’s no secret that the government has been under increasing pressure to abandon their plan to limit the work right available to partners of work visa holders. 

Businesses, immigration lawyers and those who advocate for migrants have long been calling for the government to abandon their planned restrictions and keep the current rules, allowing us to fill the gaps in the ongoing work shortage crisis that would give a much-needed boost to the New Zealand economy.

And while this new announcement may sound like a change of heart, the government have instead implemented precisely the same visa arrangements that infuriated businesses desparate for workers.

New change, same outcome 

The initial Partner of a Worker Work visa proposal by the government stated that unless the applicant was the partner of a Green List visa holder, the partner would only be allowed entry on a Visitor Visa, meaning they were not allowed to work in New Zealand unless they too gained an Accredited Employer Work Visa in their own right. 

The recently announced changes now state that migrants wanting to join their partner in New Zealand can apply for a Partner of a Worker Work visa but that visa will be subject to the conditions that:

  • The work for only employers who are accredited
  • Only work in positions paid a medium wage of NZ$29.66 (unless they are in a role covered by  an uncapped sector agreement that allows limited exceptions to median wage requirements)

Not only will this change still significantly impact the applicant and their family, with the migrant partner being unable to take up employment unless  it meets the outlined conditions, but it will also lead to an increased workload for the already strained New Zealand Immigration offices, who will be tasked with checking more documents at renewal stage to see ith the visa holder ws compliant with these conditions. 

Wasted workforce opportunity 

Yet again, the government have shown they are not listening to the businesses, migrants and immigration experts who are at the coalface of this workforce epidemic. Many migrants move to New Zealand on the promise of a welcoming culture and superior work-life balance. Partners who migrate with their children often opt to work part-time or in lower-skilled roles with pay and employer accreditation status that fall short of these new requirements. 

The government are basing their decisions on an ideological basis that there are thousands of New Zealand citizens ready and willing to take on these roles, but as job advertisement signs on storefronts show, this is simply not true. 

Businesses in a variety of sectors, from healthcare to engineering, offices to grocery stores, are crying out for staff, and while there is no shortage of migrant workers ready and willing to take up these roles, the government continue to create barriers, hampering productivity and the much-needed economic boost and infrastructure growth of the country. 

By failing business time and time again, the government are allowing a cohort of skills and talent to be tempted by other countries that make the migration process much smoother, leaving New Zealand worse off once again  by impeding  business’ ability to attract talent by making settlement more difficult for international workers. 

How NZIL can help

If you are the partner of a temporary migrant worker and would like to learn more about the changes to the Partner of a Worker Work visa and how they might affect you, contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers today.

Want to learn more? 

Read our Partnership Visa Guide for information on applying for a Partnership Visa.

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