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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.
January 18, 2023
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5
 min read

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 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?

LIST DATES HERE AS THEY ARE ANNOUNCED BY INZ.

  • 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.

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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Update

Migrant Worker Residence

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for migrant workers who are living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave who are eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else they will miss out on this one off opportunity.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrants Opportunity

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for people living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else you miss the boat.

January 9, 2023
Update

New Employer Accreditation Process

The government has moved the introduction of the new employer accreditation process across to mid-2022. At the same time, the Minister of Immigration announced new work visa rules for migrant workers who are already in New Zealand and working full time.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 19 July 2021

  • The median wage used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications increases from $25.50 per hour to $27 per hour.
  • Applicants paid below the median wage may be granted a work visa for up to 24 months. The usual 6-month visa validity restriction is suspended until mid-2022.
  • In certain cases, the labour market test is waived and in some cases, it will still apply.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 30 June 2021

  • Employer Accreditation and Approval in Principle applications are now closed.
  • No new Employer Accreditation applications (including renewals) will be accepted until the new process goes live in mid-2022.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Employer Accreditation Becomes Mandatory

Employers of migrant workers must become accredited from 1 November 2021 before work visa applications can be processed. Most employers are not accredited. Those that are accredited will have to roll into the new system when it goes live in late September.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From mid-2020 (delayed)

  • Government to negotiate and introduce Industry Sector agreements setting minimum conditions for industries that heavily rely on overseas workers. Sectors include; residential care, meat processing, dairy, forestry, road freight transport, tourism, and hospitality. Construction, horticulture, and viticulture may also be included.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 15 February 2021

  • Dairy Cattle Farmer job offers are now assessed by three new occupation descriptions: Dairy Farm Manager, Assistant Dairy Farm Manager and Dairy Herd Manager. Pay rates and job tasks will determine how long a work visa is valid. Take advice.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2020

  • Introduction of "Oversupply" and "Undersupply" occupation lists used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications when a job offer pays less than the median wage.
  • Employers offering jobs to migrant workers where an occupation is on the "Oversupply" list will not get Skill Match reports issued by Work & Income. Solid evidence of genuine attempts to find a local to fill the job will be critical for approval.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government added four new occupations that are now regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. These are:

Aged or disabled carer, Bicycle mechanic, Driller and Nursing Support worker.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 July 2020

  • Essential Skills work visa applications are now assessed based on the current median wage (NZD $25.50 or more per hour.).
  • Job offers paying below the median wage require employers to pass the labour market test* and secure a Skills Match Reports from WINZ (work visas granted for a maximum of 6 months).

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 May 2020​

  • Regional Skill Shortage List goes live. 15 regions around New Zealand list occupations reflecting local skill shortages in each region. The labour market test is not mandatory provided the job offer matches the occupation and region plus the visa applicant has qualifications and/or work experience set out on the list.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until after the general election held on 17 October 2020.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets the criteria:

  • Has employment paying double the median wage which is currently NZD $51 per hour OR NZD $106,800 per annum; OR Has New Zealand occupational registration and is required to hold valid registration to lawfully carry out their job.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 24 February 2020

  • Wage or salary thresholds increase for Essential Skills Work Visas applications lodged on or after 24/02/2020 (labour market tested; read more here).
  • Higher Skilled employment increases to $38.25 or more per hour ($79,560 per annum*)
  • Mid Skilled Employment increases to $21.68 or more per hour ($45,094 per annum*)

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2019

  • Base salary to qualify for a Work to Residence Visa (WTR) supported by an accredited employer increases from $55,000 per annum to $79,560 per annum (or $38.25 per hour).
  • Pay rates for WTR visas are now reviewed annually.
  • Work visa applicants paid less than $79,560 per annum by accredited employers need to apply under other work visa categories.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 1 November 2021

  • Work to Residence Visa (Accredited Employer and Long Term Skill Shortage) applications close.
  • Applications lodged on or before 31 October 2021 will be processed under current visa settings.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Mandatory Vaccination Required for Travel

From 1 November 2021 anyone who is not a NZ citizen must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) before travelling to New Zealand. Fully vaccinated means your last dose of vaccine was given at least 14 days before travelling and it was an approved vaccine.

January 9, 2023
Update

Employer Accreditation

Applications for employer accreditation closed at the end of June 2021. Applications lodged before the closure date are still being processed. New applications for accreditation open on 9 May 2022. The process will be quite different to what employers have experienced in the past. Businesses will need to meet minimum standards.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Wednesday, 1 December is fast approaching and it is estimated that around 16,000 individuals and families can apply in the first wave for the 2021 Resident Visa opening next month. It is exciting for the thousands of people who have been waiting patiently to become residents that finally the finish line is in sight.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first wave of applicants can apply from 1 December 2021. Around 16,000 applications are expected in this first wave. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. In total, the government expects approximately 110,000 applications that will include about 165,000 people.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The second group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 March 2022 are those who hold an eligible work visa and either meet "Settled", "Skilled" or "Scarce" as set out above. In total Immigration NZ estimate around 110,000 people will qualify to apply for this visa.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 December 2021 are those that on 29/09/2021:

  • Had lodged a residence application under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from Work category; OR Had lodged an SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) in the SMC pool that included at least one dependent child aged 17 or above.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Is this the only requirement to qualify for residence? No. In addition to the eligible work visa criteria workers also need to be regarded as one of the following:

  1. Settled.
  2. Skilled.
  3. Scarce.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

People who were lawfully in NZ (or in Australia when the travel bubble closed between April and July 2021) on 29/09/2021 need to meet the visa eligibility criteria:

  • Workers in NZ who held an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and on the day they apply for residence; OR Applied for an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and the work visa application is subsequently approved and still hold an eligible work visa on the day they apply for residence.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The government has introduced a limited pathway to residence for people who are already living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave of people eligible to apply. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Critical Purpose Visitor Visas

A small number of critical health workers (taking up jobs for six months or longer) or specialist workers (taking up jobs that are for longer than six months) who were granted border exemptions may also have eligibility for the 2021 Resident Visa. They will need to have arrived in NZ and lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • July 4. Applications open for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa.
  • July 31. Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa close.
  • August. Skilled Migrant Residence category scheduled to reopen.
  • August. A new pathway to residence for people earning 200% or more of the median wage.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.
January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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