Work visa rule changes create confusion


The government has made a last-minute change to the planned roll out of a new employer accreditation process by deferring its introduction until mid-2022.


In another U-turn the government decided to extend work visas for people paid below the median wage ($27 per hour) up to two years (instead of the 12 months maximum), while workers paid above the median wage will continue to receive visas for a maximum of three years.


At the time of applying a person must hold:

  • A work visa of any kind; or

  • A student visa with unlimited work rights (special rules apply); or

  • A critical visitor visa (border exemption and special rules apply).


The labour market test does not apply provided a person is working full time (30 hours a week or more), for the same employer and in the same region at the time of lodging the visa application.


Medicals and police clearances are not required if they have been provided before.


Application fees will apply. A paper visa application needs to be lodged until the online visa system is updated at the end of August.


It is quite confusing working out who qualifies and what documentation is required to support the work visa application. In some cases, the labour market test will apply (e.g. moving to a new employer), and for everyone an employer declaration is required.


While the roll out of the new employer accreditation is deferred, the final deadline of 31 October 2021 to apply for Work to Residence visas is fast approaching. There is no news whether the closed employer accreditation category will reopen to help people secure pathways to residence. It seems unlikely.


Are you in New Zealand on a valid visa and working? Take advice now from the team at Malcolm Pacific Immigration on whether the time is right to apply for a new work visa. Even if you have a year or more before your visa expires, it may pay to apply early.


Don’t expect this flexibility to last.


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