Immigration News

NZ Work Visa Update: The New Rules

There’s been a lot of chopping and changing in 2021, particularly when it comes to New Zealand’s immigration policy. We recap the changes and when they come into effect.

This year, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced a raft of changes to work visa rules, that will be actioned in 2022.

The biggest change is to how work visas are categorised and a new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)  is being introduced to consolidate several existing visa types, streamline the work visa application process, and prevent the exploitation of migrant workers. In broad strokes, there are three major changes under the new scheme,

A New 3-Stage Process

The new employer-led visa application process will involve 3 stages or gateways — the employer check, the job check, and the AEWV migrant worker check.

First, an employer seeking to hire someone from overseas will need to become accredited. This will require a formal application to demonstrate to Immigration New Zealand the business is meeting current employment standards and has good workplace practices regarding health & safety and fair treatment.

Secondly employers must undertake a “job check” where INZ will verify that the employer has made attempts to fill role using the local labour market.

Provided these first two steps are completed successfully, INZ will then give permission for the third and final stage to be undertaken – the filing of the work visa application.

After the work visa application is filed, INZ will verify that the work visa applicant has the skills and experience for the job being offered.

One Visa Replaces 6

This new Accredited Employer Work Visa, will replace 6 temporary work visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa (closing when AEWV introduced)
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle (closing when AEWV introduced)
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa (closing 31 October 2021)
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa (closing 31 October 2021)
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa (closed 7 October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa (closing 31 October 2021)

Visa Length by Pay Band

From 1 November, work visa duration will be determined by the job’s pay level rather than job categorisation or skill level. Those paid at or above median wage ($27) may be issued a work visa for up to 3 years. If paid below this level a 2-year work visa will be issued.

These visa durations may change (likewise the median wage) by the time this new category is introduced in June 2022.

Other things to note:

  • The labour market test for lower-paid jobs is being strengthened by reference to Government authored oversupply lists. These are lists based on geographic regions where the Government lists job where there is considered an oversupply of locals who are qualified to perform the role. Work visas won’t be issued to people seeking a work visa to perform such a role in that region. Conversely all regions will also have a list of roles, and corresponding qualifications and experience required to undertake those roles, where there is an acknowledge shortage in the local labour market. These lists will also be refined based on the pay associated with the role.
    • These lists will be regularly reviewed by Government and adjusted as the composition of the labour market changes as work visas enter New Zealand and when economic conditions change.
    • Employers who need to fill a role not on a shortage list will be able to support a work visa application if they can show their own labour market search demonstrates the skills needed cannot be found locally.
  • No labour market test will be required for higher-paid jobs in rural areas or on shortage lists in cities
  • The ability for lower-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand is being reinstated

When the border opens again:

People who meet one of the following conditions may apply for a temporary work visa in New Zealand if they:

  • Have a job offer from a New Zealand employer
  • Are coming to New Zealand for a specific work-related purpose or event
  • Have a partner already in New Zealand, and you want to join them and work
  • Want to go on a working holiday (if you’re between 18 and 30)
  • Have completed higher-level qualifications in New Zealand while holding a student visa and want to work

While we endeavour to provide timely updates on our social media and website, sometimes immigration policy is changing faster than we can refresh our content. If you have any questions about what the current rules for work visas or employer accreditation are, get in touch with our office.