Visa News
February 8, 2023

A Review of NZ Immigration for 2023

The NZ Immigration landscape saw big changes last year; what will the Government and our employers need to focus on this year to improve labour shortages?
A Review of NZ Immigration for 2023

2022 saw an almost total rehaul of New Zealand Immigration last year as our borders reopened. Almost every segment has been affected - from critical workers, parents, employers, investors visas and visitors. 

This year will be a year of action as the General Election approaches, with the Government & Immigration NZ focusing on smoothing out any issues with their new immigration strategy, and ensuring our labour market finds the support it needs to support economic growth.  

The question this year will be are all the changes enough to help us compete for top-talent in a competitive global labour market. 

Immigration 2022: A Look Back at the Restart.

Restarting the flow of migrant workers after the pandemic has been a complicated one for Immigration NZ and New Zealand employers this year. With multiple changes including the new Accredited Employer work visa; increasing the Skilled Migrant Visa points system and the continuing amendments to our critical occupations list to name just a few. 

Net Migration statistics are still provisionally far lower than their previous average prior to the pandemic. With fewer new arrivals and Kiwis now being able to find work overseas, the labour shortage is a big concern employers have in 2023 as a potential recession looms. In a Business NZ Network survey 87% of employers found it difficult or very difficult to fill staff vacancies over the last year*. 

Net Migration for New Zealand 2023

(Image Source: Stats NZ)

What Are the Changes in the Coming Year?

For New Zealand

This year we will see the Government’s new immigration policies mature. Immigration NZ and Service providers in this industry will be working hard to fine tune their processes to support the changes. With lower queues expected, the aim of quick visa turnarounds should eventuate.  

Sectors who were reliant on minimum wage and overseas worker support, will need to find ways to adjust their business model or increase wages, before the increase of the median wage comes in February. This could potentially mean price hikes for these services as they attempt to maintain profitability.

New approvals to residency categories can not be expected to meet pre-pandemic levels as the Government policy changes will be granting residency visas for quality and experience over lower skilled workers. Companies reliant on low skilled workers will need to learn to adapt to the changes. 

For Migrants

After the rehaul of last year, migrants will have a clearer picture of who New Zealand will be prioritising. Some now are already benefiting from a lower queue volume and seeing their visa processed far quicker than expected. 

The new criteria for the Skilled Migrant visa will complicate pathways to residencies for some migrants already on our shores who will be unable to meet the criteria. It will also limit the amount of new applications from abroad, reducing the immigration queue to speed up the approval process. 

The prioritisation of visas for critical roles on the Green List will also continue to evolve during the year. 

Below is a list of key dates and changes announced by the Government so far:

  • 18 January 2023. EOIs for the Skilled Migrant Category were selected again.
  • 31 January 2023. People who hold a Working Holiday visa but didn't travel due to Covid-19 can get a new visa and are allowed to enter the country.
  • 27 February 2023. The new median wage of NZ$29.66 an hour will be adopted into the immigration system.
  • March 2023. The Green list nz work to residence expands to include teachers as well as several construction specialisms. 
  • Early 2023. NZTE & Government confirm the list of acceptable investments for the Active Investment Visa category
  • May 2023. EOIs for Parent Resident visas can be submitted online on the Immigration New Zealand website.
  • August 2023. The first selection of the new EOIs for Parent Resident visas starts and is repeated every three months.
  • Late 2023: Skilled Migrant Worker Visa Changes Rolled (currently with the Government for final decisions after their amendment to the 6 point scheme )

Sectors in Need of Immigration Support in 2023

New Zealand’s labour shortages can hinder economic growth, infrastructure upgrades and our health and social sectors if gaps are not addressed well enough this year. The levels of highly skilled workers such as doctors, nurses and engineers need to be addressed by immigration efforts in order to help sustain our current population. 


In 2022, Nursing Council estimates that they were understaffed by 4000 nurses. This continues to put pressure on our healthcare system. In its July workforce survey, 38% of nurses** responded to say they were either planning to find work overseas or are in the process of moving. With wages starting from $9000 more per annum in Australia, it becomes an enticing opportunity for both NZ citizens and new migrants deciding on where to settle. 

Covid 19 has put a strain on the Government in terms of its ability to level the pay gap.  Their current response is to invest in training higher levels of nurses and  the fast track to residency option for nursing will help fill quoters. 


Construction is the fifth largest sector in New Zealand’s economy, employing just over a quarter of a million people. Combined with a severe residential housing shortage as well as large scale Government infrastructure projects, employers across the board are desperate to fill highly-skilled vacancies.  Immigration NZ estimates 4,800 new jobs a year will be filled in construction in the next five years to sustain these projects and economic growth.*** 


Staff shortages have affected major infrastructure projects in New Zealand.  The high levels of skill required is not an easy one to fill from our shores alone. It can take up to 9 years of experience to gain competency in an engineering specialism. New Zealand is struggling to compete with other countries, as top talent is being paid at high rates overseas with the global shortage.   

The Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ) has estimated 1,500 more engineers are needed each year just to match economic growth.**** With the advent of the Government's major Three Waters investment for water, wastewater and stormwater delivery only adds more demand for this skill in New Zealand. 

How can New Zealand Stay Competitive in the Global Job Market this Year?

New Zealand relies heavily on its reputation of having a healthy environment with a great work/life balance to entice new residents. The idea of finishing work and in thirty minutes being on the beach is a picture many of our international job posts paint to tempt individuals. However, how else can the Government and our Industries help to ensure a flow of skilled workers?

Pay & Benefits

The tension in the job market remains high in New Zealand, due to low availability of talent. New Zealanders as well as migrants benefiting from this as employers increase wages and benefits to attract workers. The Government's approach to the rebalancing of immigration continues to support this approach by ensuring a higher level of qualified workers apply, expecting competitive rates. 

Clear, Fast Pathways to Residency  

Uncertainty can be the main reason why migrants look to other shores for residency. For migrants looking to begin a new life,  if a country is seen to be making too many changes or has a complicated system with a prolonged residency process this may put off many considering New Zealand as an option. 

The NZ Government’s changes will help to reduce the confusion and uncertainty for migrants wanting to move here. The visa approval process is also a key aspect to get right.  Large queues and long waiting times can be a determining factor in a decision whether to move to New Zealand. 

Solutions for Families

Ensuring a secure family option for migration is essential to retain highly skilled workers for the long term. Whether it is the parents or the children, for New Zealand to allow a family to move together is important for the immigration decisions. The reopening of the Parent residency visa this year will help improve the support network of migrants allowing them to work and live with their family indefinitely. 

Fast Track Critical Workers with the Green List. 

The Green List is touted by the Government as the scheme to attract migrant workers based on guaranteed residency. 

It is a list of critical roles New Zealand needs to grow our economy and to support our population. 

Rewarding skilled migrants with the certainty of residence can be very appealing for those wishing to start a new life overseas with their families. And as it stands now in our current job market, the incentive of wages is not enough to attract many workers as we are competing with the likes of Australia and Canada who have high wage brackets for many industries.  

More amendments to the Green List of critical occupations were released before the Christmas break to include teachers, health workers and more construction roles.  There will be further adjustments this year to support our sectors. 

Keeping Up-To-Date With NZ Visa Changes In 2023

INZ regularly releases updates about New Zealand visa applications and changes to the immigration system. You can also keep yourself informed about work visas, employer accreditation and immigration NZ news by subscribing to our newsletter or contacting our experienced immigration advisers.

Get Expert Immigration Advice Today!

Understanding the NZ immigration system and keeping up to date with the Government's changes doesn't have to be stressful. Reach out to our experienced immigration advisers for advice and guidance. We can answer any questions and keep you in the loop with significant changes made to the immigration system in New Zealand.

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* Business NZ Business NZ Network Survery of Business Opinion

** Nursing Council: Nursing reports 

*** Immigration NZ: Construction Jobs

**** RNZ: Three Water’s Threatened By NZ’s Critical Shortage of Skilled Engineers

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