Visa News
March 3, 2022

How the New Visa Rules Affect Migrant Workers

How do the work visa changes in NZ affect migrant workers? We summarise the new rules and the changes coming in 2022. Here’s what you need to know.
How the New Visa Rules Affect Migrant Workers
How the New Work Visa Rules Affect Migrant Workers

The NZ work visa changes will have a significant impact on migrant workers throughout the country. If you are currently working in NZ on a visa or planning to apply for one, you will need to be aware of the current rules and the upcoming changes.

What are the new work visa rules in NZ, and how do they affect you? Let’s discuss.

Key Changes to Work Visa Rules

There have been many changes to NZ Work Visa categories over the past couple of years. The two key changes you’ll need to be aware of include:

Median Wage Increase

The median wage is used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications in NZ. The conditions of your visa will depend on whether you are paid below, at, or above the median wage. Your pay rate will therefore determine the duration of your visa and whether you can support (bring with you) your partner and/or dependent children.

The median wage is updated annually, and on July 19, 2021, the median wage increased from $25.50 per hour to $27 per hour. Applicants paid below this rate may be able to work in New Zealand for up to 24 months, while those paid above it may work in the country for up to 3 years. This excludes temporary Covid concessions for people already in NZ. We recommend seeking advice from a licensed immigration adviser in NZ to assess your eligibility.

Closure of Work to Residence Visas

The NZ Work to Residence Visa category offers a pathway to residency for workers in New Zealand. However, most new applications for this visa category closed from 31 October 2021. This includes the Talent (Accredited Employer) and the Long-Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa. The Work to Residence category will be replaced by the Accredited Employer Work Visa in July 2022, which we discuss below. The Talent (Art, Culture & Sports) Work to Residence visa remains open.

Changes Coming in Mid-2022

In 2021, the government announced that a new employer-led work visa (called the Accredited Employer Work Visa) will replace six streams of current nz work visas. This change was set to begin in the second half of 2021 but has since been deferred until mid-2022.

In this new scheme, six work visas will be rolled into one. These visas include:

What does this mean for migrant workers and employers? Essentially, much more compliance for employers. Employers wanting to retain or recruit migrant workers must have mandatory accreditation. Before you can apply for a work visa, your potential employer will need to prove their accreditation status. The process will take place in 3 steps:

  1. Employer Check (apply for accreditation)
  2. Job Check (prove there are no kiwis who can fill the job)
  3. Work Visa application is lodged.

Applications for employer accreditation open in May 2022 and become mandatory in July. New application fees will apply to all 3 steps.

The border is closed to many people but is starting now to reopen in phases. Applications for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa are opening from July 2022. Employers need to get prepared now for the May opening of the new employer accreditation scheme.

Seek Advice at Malcolm Pacific Immigration

With so many new work visa rules in NZ coming into play in 2022 (we have only touched on some in this article), it can be confusing to know what the right option is for you. If you need more information about the work visa changes and how they affect you, get in touch with Malcolm Pacific Immigration today. We have had many years of experience dealing with complex work visa issues. Seek advice now and stay up to date on our website for new work visa information.

Get started with a free assessment today

We are New Zealand’s largest and most experienced team of licensed immigration advisers. Our experts take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our team is on standby, ready to help.