Visa News

How Covid-19 Has Affected the NZ Migrant Workforce

Border restrictions and lockdown rules have caused a number of NZ industries to suffer. We explore the impact of covid on the NZ immigrant workforce.

12/11/20213 min read
How Covid-19 Has Affected the NZ Migrant Workforce


As we all know, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on countries all around the world. While New Zealand has been fortunate enough to have lower case numbers than most countries, the impact of Covid on the NZ migrant workforce has not gone unnoticed. Here we explore how the NZ workforce has changed since the pandemic began and what Immigration NZ is doing to support key industries.


Shortage of New Overseas Workers

NZ migrants make up a huge portion of New Zealand’s population and play an essential role in the country’s workforce. But strict border restrictions have caused the NZ migrant workforce to take a massive hit. Before the pandemic began, the NZ labour market relied heavily on new skilled workers coming in from overseas. Industries such as elderly care and dairy farming were largely made up of skilled migrants. With many NZ temporary work visa applications now on hold, workers outside of New Zealand are unable to apply for these positions. Additionally, the skilled migrant visa category is on hold until well into 2022.


Only Critical Workers Allowed Entry to NZ

New Zealand has some of the toughest border restrictions in the world. Apart from citizens and residents, only those with a critical purpose for travel can enter New Zealand. In some cases, employers can bring in migrant workers from overseas if their skills are considered “critical”. This is essential for key industries like healthcare and the country’s overall well-being.

But who qualifies as a critical worker? The two main critical worker categories in New Zealand include, “critical health workers” and “other critical workers.”


Critical Health Workers

Critical health workers are in high demand in NZ. Since the specialist skills of overseas migrant workers are vital to New Zealand’s health system, critical health workers are exempt from border restrictions.


Other Critical Workers

Immigration NZ classifies “other critical workers” under three categories:

  • Short term workers (less than 6 months)
  • Long term workers (more than 6 months)
  • Workers for an approved class

Only employers, supporting agencies, or immigration professionals can make a request to bring critical workers into New Zealand. Individual workers cannot make a request themselves.

It’s important to note that essential visa holders also do not automatically qualify as critical workers. If you’d like to know whether your occupation is considered “critical,” you can get in touch with a licenced NZ immigration adviser for information.


Lockdown Impact: Business Closures & Lost Jobs

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused people all around the world to lose their jobs and businesses, and New Zealand is no different. The most recent Covid outbreak in New Zealand has caused a whole new level of uncertainty for work visa holders, migrant workers, residents, and citizens alike – especially those based in Auckland. Auckland has been in lockdown for its longest ever period and Covid cases have hit a record high – with no signs of slowing down. The retail and hospitality industries are suffering as a result, as are visa holders in these sectors.

Contact Malcolm Pacific Immigration

for Advice and Support

Are you struggling to navigate the changes to NZ immigration since Covid-19 hit our shores? Here at Malcolm Pacific Immigration, we are skilled and experienced at finding solutions to complex immigration issues. Whether you’re in need of trusted work visa information or general immigration support, our expert advisers can help. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation and we can discuss the next best steps for your particular situation.

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