Employers

Border closure

A critical worker is described as: A health worker; or Entering the country for less than 6 months with a unique skill set not available in New Zealand and completing a time critical role (e.g. installing/servicing major equipment, essential for a major infrastructure project etc).

31/07/20202 min read
Immigration Border closure New Zealand


While New Zealand has returned to life as normal the border remains closed to everyone other than New Zealand citizens or residents and a limited group of others.

There is a border exception process for critical workers, partners/children of New Zealand citizens or residents or where there is a clear humanitarian reason for being in New Zealand. This is not a walk in the park. The threshold to get an exception is set very high. Around 70% of critical worker requests are declined. Someone stuck overseas already holding an Essential Skills Work Visa wanting to get back to their job is unlikely to get a border exemption unless highly skilled.

A critical worker is described as:

  1. A health worker; or
  2. A person entering the country for less than 6 months with a unique skill set not available in New Zealand and completing a time critical role (e.g. installing/servicing major equipment, essential for a major infrastructure project etc); or
  3. A person entering the country for more than 6 months; must earn a minimum of NZD $106,080 per annum and have an essential role on a project in New Zealand that is either government funded or related or has significant wider benefits to the national or regional economy etc.

The border exemption process is complex. Consult a professional. Getting it wrong will cost your business time, money and risk the success of projects, new ventures or investments.

Employers are expected to pay the costs of managed isolation or quarantine for critical workers (and their families). Space is limited as New Zealanders are given priority. As part of the planning process factor in delays with available flights.

Read more at https://covid19.govt.nz/travel-and-the-border/travel-to-new-zealand/

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Latest Updates

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Update

The Green List

From September 2022 people holding job offers in a small number of occupations may apply for residence. Some occupations are a direct pathway to residence and others require a period of two years or longer before applying.

There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Establishing if an overseas qualification matches the NZ equivalent qualification before applying is paramount for success.

Read more here.

16 May 22
Update

Work Visa Categories Closing

The work visa categories set to close are:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – approval in principle
  • Work to Residence (Talent – Accredited Employer)
  • Work to Residence (Long Term Skills Shortage)
  • Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa (closed October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visa.
10 Feb 22
Update

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • February 13. Fully vaccinated Kiwis plus certain other travellers entering NZ from the rest of the world* can skip MIQ.
  • April 30. The border starts a phased reopen to fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
  • April 30. The Productivity Commission reports back to the government on immigration settings.
  • May 9. Applications open for mandatory Employer Accreditation.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

16 Dec 21