There were around 10,000 work visa holders overseas when New Zealand closed the border in March. Most have not been able to get back to New Zealand and restart jobs. The government has just announced a pathway for a small group to apply for entry in October.
The criteria are pretty tight. To qualify for a border exemption a person must:
Still have a valid job in NZ; and
Hold a work to residence visa or essential skills work visa not expiring before the end of 2020 OR already applied for a further visa on or before 10/08/2020; and
Left NZ on or after 01/12/2019; and
Lived in NZ for two years or more OR lived in NZ for a year or more and had their dependent children with them in NZ for at least 6 months or have parents or adult siblings ordinary resident in NZ or had applied for residence on or before 31/07/2020.
The government estimates around 850 people will meet this criteria.