Visa News
January 18, 2023

Immigration 2023: What is the Focus for the Government for This Year?

The NZ Government’s focus of Immigration 2023 is strengthening New Zealand’s economy and attracting skilled workers. Read the upcoming NZ visa changes.
Immigration 2023: What is the Focus for the Government for This Year?

The Government implemented a streamlined approach to immigration changes in 2022. Many changes were the byproduct of the Covid-19 strategy for regrowth and recovery. For example, our migrant visa schemes saw major overhauls as they focused on changing our future migrant workforce. 

New Zealand citizens, residents, migrant workers, and their families will be watching closely to see what 2023 decisions are made and if the proposed changes are implemented. 

2023 The Year of Action for Immigration

2023 will be a year to focus on action while these schemes are matured, and labour shortages are addressed through immigration

Our Government's plans to strengthen the New Zealand workforce encompass critical sectors. They are prioritising residency visas for key skilled workers and providing support for integrating these key-skill workers into the New Zealand way of life. 

The Government's key focus for 2023 will continue from where the streamlined approach began in 2022. They are: 

  • Addressing the labour shortage and increasing the Highly Skilled workforce through migration and training for New Zealanders. 
  • Helping to support the growth of business productivity and wage expectations through its Skilled Migrant and Investor Schemes 
  • Advocating new technological, labour-saving methods.
  • Empowering our country's public sector, specifically in the Healthcare sector.

Addressing Labour Shortages

New Zealand citizens are enjoying a high rate of employment. However, this has not lessened our labour gaps in many sectors. For example, data from Statistics NZ state that job ads are 33% higher than before March 2020, when the borders closed. 

2022 saw less than 50,000 new permanent and long-term arrivals, predicted to reach 100,000 by late 2023. 

Strategies to retain highly-skilled New Zealanders are vital in maintaining our workforce, as many are moving overseas to earn higher wages. Kiwis are attracted to Australia and the UK to make more money compared to NZ employers. Kiwi employers in both the private and public sectors need to be able to raise their game to retain their staff. However, this is not easy, with inflation rising and the cost of living in New Zealand increasing. 

The Government's move to increase the migration of highly skilled workers into New Zealand goes some way toward addressing this issue. Introduced a fast track to residency from the Green List immigration nz list to prioritise some specific skilled labour roles. However, this is not a quick road to recovery for our Kiwi companies. 

Attracting More Hands-On Investment 

The Government, in late 2022, introduced a new Active Investor Scheme that incentivised migrant investors to invest in New Zealand private companies. It is predicted that this model will provide more growth to New Zealand companies and help them generate global success. 

The Minister of Immigration, Micheal Wood, states "The new visa category will help to attract investors that will remain in New Zealand for the long term, bringing their skills and experience to increase our productivity and competitiveness, supporting our transition to a high wage, productive economy".

By incentivising direct investment, it is envisaged that New Zealand businesses will benefit more from these migrant investors' global experience, connections, and monetary investment. The Investor Visa NZ is now a weighted structure that awards investments that will be doing good for Kiwi business and fine-tunes the passive investment structure.

Addressing Long-Term Concerns 

By 2028, there will be over a million New Zealanders over 65. With New Zealand's ageing population, we are heading for a high retirement rate within the next decade. This will also impact the availability of skilled workers. Highly skilled degrees take time to nurture. Therefore the Government's focus in 2023 will need to be on longer-term strategies.

Funding for training and increasing pay rates for key skills, like studying General Medicine in particular, has been implemented to increase the amount of Kiwis wanting to study these skills. At the same time, the Government is increasing immigration to counteract this decrease in the workforce to meet demand. 

Rebalancing Immigration 

A key strategy the Government implemented in May 2022 was rebalancing New Zealand's immigration system to grow NZs labour market into a more productive, higher-wage environment. The Government has created this scheme to ensure the future migrant workforce is highly skilled and supports the skills gaps within our economy.

The rebalance is designed to make it easier to attract and employ skilled migrants. It also supports sectors in implementing sustainable employment processes. This will be a year of action as migrants applying for the 85 key Green List roles will join our workforce to start their new working lives in New Zealand. 

Increasing Productivity

The Government's immigration rebalance strategy aims to increase New Zealand's productivity and value by:

  • Advocating for businesses to increase their investment in new business models and labour-saving technology, where appropriate.
  • Attracting hands-on investors wanting to invest in Kiwi businesses. 
  • Encouraging businesses to invest more in worker training, upskilling, and career development.
  • Supporting upfront investments that will pay dividends in the future.

What Are the Changes in the Coming Year?


  • 18 January 2023. EOIs for the Skilled Migrant Category will be 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.
  • 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.

Questions remain for many visa and residence opportunities. We will keep you posted as we receive more communication from the Government and learn about proposed changes over the next year.

  • What visa categories will get priority with categories reopening in the new year?
  • Are there changes lined up for international students?
  • Will work rights change for partners of migrant workers?
  • What will the new residence pathways bring to New Zealand?
  • Will more occupations be added to the Green List?

Skilled Migrant Category

Before the borders closed, INZ noticed various issues within the Skilled Migrant Category, which has been compounded by Covid-19. The world continues to recover from the pandemic, with labour shortages still a global symptom.

Last year, NZ Immigration's minister, Michael Woods, announced the reopening of the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) visa under current settings while consultation was underway regarding the proposed changes, like introducing the new 6-point system.

EOI selection for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa resumed on 9 November 2022, and INZ selected all EOIs with at least 160 points. 

However, after 9 November, the points threshold for selection increased to 180 points, which is in place from 18 January 2023, when EOIs are selected again.

Median Wage Increase

INZ announced that the new median wage of NZ$29.66 an hour will be adopted into the immigration system on 27 February 2023.

The NZ Government has made an exception for some sectors. For example, tourism and hospitality have a median wage threshold exemption of NZ$25 per hour until April 2023, with the median wage exception increasing to NZ$28.18 in April 2023. 

Working Holiday Visa NZ

The Government announced changes to increase access to working holiday makers already in New Zealand and those looking to travel to NZ. 

From 31 January 2023, people who held a working holiday visa but didn't travel due to Covid-19 can enter the country again, as they would have received an email notification from INZ from October 2022 onwards about their eligibility and ability to get a new visa.

Parent Resident Visa NZ

The Parent Resident Visa restarted on 12 October 2022 and resumed selecting existing expressions of interest (EOIs) on 14 November 2022. 

From May 2023, EOIs can be submitted online on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Any EOIs INZ received from 12 October 2022 went into a ballot, with the first random selection from the ballot in August 2023, then every three months after that.

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.

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