Immigration and visa news from New Zealand.
On 13 August 2023, Immigration New Zealand announced three changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa that are coming into effect on 27 November 2023:
- The introduction of a ‘maximum continuous stay’ for all AEWV holders
- Longer visa length for people earning at least the median wage
- Longer visa length for eligible care sector workers
Let’s look at these changes in detail.
1. Introduction of a ‘maximum continuous stay’
From 27 November 2023, the maximum continuous stay on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be five years for migrants paid at least the median wage.
That means eligible migrants can spend up to 5 years in New Zealand on one or more Accredited Employer Work Visas. To apply for another AEWV after five years, migrants must spend at least 12 months in a row outside New Zealand if paid:
- at the median wage or above, or
- below the median wage in a role other than meat and seafood processing.
Meat and seafood processing workers who earn below the median wage must spend at least four months outside New Zealand before applying for another AEWV.
Despite the regulation about candidates earning at least the median wage, Immigration New Zealand is also introducing maximum continuous stays for sectors exempt from paying the median wage.
|Role||Maximum Visa Length||Maximum Continuous Stay||Time You Must Spend Outside New Zealand|
|Roles paid at least median wage||5 years||5 years||12 months|
|Care workforce sector roles paid the level 4 pay rate||3 years||5 years||12 months|
|Care workforce sector roles paid the level 3 pay rate||3 years||3 years||12 months|
|Construction and infrastructure sector roles paid below median wage||3 years||2 years||12 months|
|Transport sector roles paid below median wage||3 years||5 years||12 months|
|Seasonal snow and adventure tourism sector roles paid below median wage||7 months||5 years||12 months|
|Tourism and hospitality sector roles paid below median wage||2 years||2 years||12 months|
|Meat processing sector roles paid below median wage||7 months||7 months||4 months|
|Seafood processing (onshore) sector roles paid below median wage||7 months||7 months||4 months|
What about visa holders on a pathway to residence?
AEWV holders on a pathway to residence will be able to apply for another AEWV without spending 12 months out of New Zealand.
This could include, for example, if the visa holder meets the skills threshold – occupational registration, qualification, or income – but needs more time to complete their skilled work experience.
Immigration New Zealand has said that it’ll provide more information on recognised pathways to residence in the future.
The maximum visa length of a role might differ from the maximum continuous stay. If the maximum visa length is shorter, any further AEWVs a migrant applies for can only be approved for up to the length of the maximum continuous stay.
For example, let’s say you’re a bus driver in the transport sector and you’re paid below the median wage. Your maximum visa length will be three years, but your maximum continuous stay is five years. You can thus get a 3-year AEWV, which is the maximum visa length. At the end of the three years, you can apply for a second AEWV – but the visa length can only be up to two years. That’s because your total maximum continuous stay is five years.
2. Longer visa length for roles paid at least the median wage
The AEWV’s maximum length is three years. That increases to five years from 27 November for all applications where the job or job offer is paid at least the median wage.
Existing AEWV holders can apply for another AEWV from 27 November 2023 to receive the balance of five years, provided they:
- have or had an AEWV approved before 27 November 2023, and
- have a job or job offer paying at least the median wage at the time of the application for another AEWV.
Migrants who have already spent 12 months outside New Zealand may be eligible for an AEWV for up to five years.
3. Longer visa length for eligible care sector workers earning below the median wage
The maximum length of an AEWV for care workforce workers paid below the median wage is increasing from two to three years. This change applies to all applications approved from 27 November 2023, where the job or job offer pays at least the level 3 pay rate.
This change will have the following advantages:
- You’ll have enough time to complete the level 4 qualification and move to the higher pay rate and pathway to residence if you earn at the level 3 pay rate. If you move to the level 4 pay rate, you’ll be able to apply for a further AEWV to get the maximum continuous stay of five years.
- If you earn at the level 4 pay rate, you’ll have enough time to apply for residence after you’ve completed the required two years of work experience.
Need help with your AEWV application?
Do you have an Accredited Employer Work Visa that you’d like to extend? Our licensed advisor can assess your eligibility to apply for a further AEWV and ensure that you’re ready to submit in November. Simply book a consultation call to get started!
On 21 June 2023, New Zealand’s Minister of Immigration announced four upcoming changes to the Skilled Migrant Visa. These changes come into effect on 9 October 2023.
1. Simplified points system
The Skilled Migrant Visa is points-based. Under the current settings, migrants must score 100 points or more to lodge an Expression of Interest, and only migrants with at least 180 points who also meet all other requirements are selected to receive invitations to apply.
Migrants can claim points for:
- Their age
- Skilled employment in New Zealand
- Recognised qualifications
- Skilled work experience
- Their partner’s recognised qualification and/or skilled employment in New Zealand
Under the new settings, the points system is simplified and sets a clear skills threshold for residency.
From October, migrants must get 6 points to apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. Migrants will be able to claim points from:
- One of three skill indicators:
- New Zealand occupational registration, or
- Qualification (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or
- Income from a job or job offer that’s at least 1.5 times New Zealand’s median wage.
- Skilled work in New Zealand
The following conditions will apply to how migrants can claim points:
- Migrants can only claim points from one of the three skill indicators.
- Migrants can claim one point for each year of skilled work in New Zealand, but only up to a maximum of 3 points.
- Migrants can combine points claimed from skilled work in New Zealand with points from one of the skill indicators.
Please also note the following:
- Migrants can use their occupational registration to claim points if it is on Immigration New Zealand’s list of eligible New Zealand occupational registrations.
- Migrants who want to use their skilled work experience in New Zealand to claim further points can only use experience they gained after getting their occupational registration.
- Migrants with qualifications from outside of New Zealand may need to get their qualifications assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).
- Migrants with non-degree qualifications at NZQF Level 7 or below can no longer claim points under the new points system.
- The income skill indicator will replace the Highly Paid Residence Visa that was announced in 2022, meaning highly paid migrants will apply for the new Skilled Migrant Visa instead.
Summary of points system changes:
|CURRENT SYSTEM||NEW SYSTEM|
|Score 100 points or more to submit an Expression of Interest, and 180 points or more to receive an invitation to apply||Score 6 points|
|Claim points for:|
– Skilled Employment in New Zealand
– Recognised Qualifications
– Skilled Work Experience
– Partner’s Recognised Qualifications and/or Skilled Employment in New Zealand
|Claim points for:|
– One of three skill indicators: New Zealand occupational registration, Qualification, Income
– Skilled work in New Zealand
2. Skilled job or job offer requirements
Under the current system, Skilled Migrant Visa applicants must have skilled employment or a job offer for skilled employment. This employment or job offer can be from any New Zealand employer.
From October, the skilled job or job offer must be from an accredited New Zealand employer. To be considered skilled employment, the job or job offer must be:
- At least 30 hours a week
- Either in an ANZSCO Level 1 to 3 occupation and paid at or above the median wage, or in an ANZSCO Level 4 to 5 occupation and paid at or 1.5 times above the median wage
- On a permanent contract or fixed-term contract for at least 12 months
Summary of employment change:
|CURRENT SYSTEM||NEW SYSTEM|
|Skilled job or offer of skilled job from any New Zealand employer||Skilled job or offer of skilled job from an accredited New Zealand employer|
3. No limit on the number of migrants who can get New Zealand residence
From October 2023, there won’t be a limit on the number of people who can get New Zealand residency under the Skilled Migrant Visa category. All migrants who meet the visa’s requirements and whose visa applications are accepted will obtain New Zealand residence.
4. A new Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa
Immigration New Zealand will grant a Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa to Skilled Migrant Visa applicants whose current temporary visa expires while Immigration New Zealand processes their application.
The Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa will enable visa holders to stay in New Zealand while their Skilled Migrant Visa application is processed. Migrants with Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visas will be able to travel in and out of New Zealand.
Further, any conditions that apply to the current visa will apply to the Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa, and Skilled Migrant Category Interim visa holders won’t be able to apply for another temporary visa.
The Skilled Migrant Category Interim will expire the soonest of:
- 24 months after its start date
- The date of residence approval
- The declining or withdrawing of the residence application, two months after Immigration New Zealand decided on the residence application.
Immigration New Zealand has stipulated that migrants who apply for the new Skilled Migrant Visa can also apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) to stay in New Zealand.
Some migrants might prefer this route as it offers more certainty on how long they’ll be able to stay in New Zealand while waiting on the outcome of their visa application.
Some requirements aren’t changing
While the Skilled Migrant Visa is undergoing a lot of change in October, some requirements are remaining the same. Migrants must still:
- Be 55 or younger to apply for a Skilled Migrant visa
- Meet English language requirements
- Meet New Zealand’s health and character requirements
From 9 October 2023, the Skilled Migrant Visa will have a simplified points system. Under this system, migrants must get at least 6 points to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.
The points system will award points for New Zealand occupational registration, an eligible qualification, income from a job or job offer, and skilled work in New Zealand. However, migrants can only claim points for one of the first categories. The points for the chosen category can be combined with points for skilled work, though.
Furthermore, the job or job offer must be from an accredited New Zealand employer. Migrants who hold a visa at the time of applying for the new Skilled Migrant Visa will get a Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa when their visa expired. Migrants can also apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa instead to remain on a valid work visa in New Zealand.
Lastly, there won’t be a limit on the number of migrants who can get New Zealand residency. Considering this, please feel free to reach out to us closer to October to find out if you meet the requirements. While Immigration New Zealand isn’t setting a limit, all applicants must still meet the eligibility criteria.
On Saturday, 22 April, Australia announced a new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens. The pathway comes into effect on 1 July 2023 and applies to Special Category Visa holders.
Australian citizenship after four years of residence in Australia
From 1 July, New Zealand citizens with Special Category Visas (Subclass 444) who arrived in Australia since 2001 will be able to apply directly for Australian citizenship.
It won’t be necessary for these New Zealanders to first become permanent residents. Instead, all that’s required is four years of having lived in Australia and being able to meet the standard citizenship criteria.
Australia is “proud” to offer citizenship benefits to New Zealanders
The new direct pathway to citizenship will make it much easier for New Zealanders to obtain Australian citizenship.
Besides not having to have permanent residence first, eligible New Zealanders also won’t have to meet minimum income requirements or health criteria. Furthermore, New Zealand children born in Australia will become citizens at birth instead of only getting citizenship at 10 years old.
““Australia is a country built on citizenship. It is only fair the opportunity to become an Australian Citizen is made easier for our closest friends and allies. This announcement will make a significant difference to the lives of people already living and working and in our communities”, said Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles.
The policy change also brings the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia more in line with those of Australians living in New Zealand. New Zealanders will have access to services and benefits associated with citizenship, such as student loans and unemployment benefits.
“We know that many New Zealanders are here on a Special Category Visa while raising families, working and building their lives in Australia. So I am proud to offer the benefits that citizenship provides”, said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
New Zealand welcomes the change in Australia’s immigration policy
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins welcomed Australia’s decision.
“Today’s announcement brings our nations closer together. It underscores the strength and breadth of the bonds between our countries ahead of my visit this weekend. These changes will make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of many New Zealanders and their children by giving those who decide to take up Australian citizenship similar rights to Australians living in New Zealand”, PM Hipkins said.
PM Hipkins assured New Zealanders taking up Australian citizenship that they’re entitled to dual citizenship.
“Kiwis taking up Australian citizenship will still retain their New Zealand citizenship. These dual citizens are not lost to New Zealand – but draw us closer together.”
Immigration New Zealand has announced that the Government is adding over 30 new health sector roles to the Green List.
Additionally, all health roles on the Green List will move to the Straight to Residence pathway of the Accredited Employer Work Visa.
Eligible health professionals can apply for work visas from 29 May 2023.
A total of 32 new healthcare occupations on the Green List
The new occupations on the Green List are from across the healthcare system and considered ‘critical to the delivery of health services in New Zealand’.
These are the occupations:
- Addiction Practitioner/Alcohol & Drug Clinician
- Clinical Dental Technician
- Clinical Physiologists (Sleep, Renal, Exercise, Respiratory, Neurology, and Cardiac)
- Dental Specialists
- Dental Technician
- Dental Therapist
- Dispensing Optician
- Drug and Alcohol Counsellor
- Enrolled Nurse
- Genetic Counsellor
- Medical Laboratory Pre-Analytical Technician
- Medical Resonance Imaging Technologist
- Nuclear Medicine Technologist
- Nurse Practitioner
- Oral Health Therapist
- Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician
- Paramedic/Emergency Medical Technician
- Perfusionist (Cardiac)
- Play Therapist (Hospital)
- Social Worker
- Speech-Language Therapist
- Sterile Processing Technician
Eligible healthcare professionals will qualify for Straight to Residence
Eligible healthcare professionals working in the 32 new Green List roles will qualify for a Straight to Residence pathway through the Accredited Employer Work Visa.
The Work To Residence occupations already on the Green List will move to the Straight to Residence pathway. These are the following occupations:
- Anaesthetic Technician
- Medical Imaging Technologist
- Medical Laboratory Technician
- Medical Radiation Therapist
- Occupational Therapist
The eight remaining healthcare roles on the Green List are already on the Straight to Residence pathway:
- Clinical Psychologist
- Medical Laboratory Scientist
- Medical Practitioners
- Physicist (Medical)
- Registered Nurses
What does Straight to Residence mean?
Skilled workers who are eligible for Work to Residence must work in New Zealand for two years before being able to apply for residence. This requirement falls away for people who qualify for Straight to Residence. In other words, it’s not necessary to work in New Zealand before applying for residence.
However, Straight to Residence candidates must still meet other requirements, including:
- Working for an accredited employer or having a job offer from one
- Meeting the criteria set out on the Green List for their occupation
- Having a full-time job (at least 30 hours a week), genuine and permanent or at least a 12-month fixed-term contract. Independent contractors are also eligible under certain circumstances.
Applications for the new health roles open at the end of May
Immigration New Zealand announced that applications for the 32 new occupations on the Green List open on 29 May 2023.
You don’t have to wait until then to get the ball rolling, though. You can start today by determining if you meet all the requirements to apply for a work visa. Simply book your consultation call with our licensed advisor on our website.
The sooner you start, the quicker you can submit your application once applications open.
On 3 February 2023, Immigration New Zealand announced the reopening dates of its capped Working Holiday schemes for the year.
Once each scheme opens, it’ll stay open until all allocated spaces are filled. Once all spaces are taken, the scheme will close until 2024.
2023 Reopening dates
The reopening dates for New Zealand’s Working Holiday Schemes are as follows:
|Working Holiday Scheme||2023 Opening Date||Cap (People per Year)|
|Hong Kong||28 March||400|
What are the Working Holiday scheme?
The Working Holiday schemes are agreements between New Zealand and other countries allowing the citizens of those countries to work in and explore New Zealand.
The associated visa is a Working Holiday Visa. This visa is available to young people, usually aged 18 to 30, but 18 to 35 in select countries.
More about the Working Holiday Visa
As discussed above, the Working Holiday Visa allows young people to work in and explore New Zealand.
The main purpose of the stay must be to holiday, with both work or a short amount of study as the secondary intentions.
- Most visa holders can stay in New Zealand for up to 12 months on a Working Holiday Visa. Those from the UK or Canada are eligible for visas up to 23 months.
- Working Holiday Visa holders cannot accept permanent job offers while in New Zealand.
- Each country has its own employment conditions. For instance, some countries stipulate that you can’t work for the same employer for more than three months while in New Zealand, while others don’t.
- Working Holiday Visa holders can study one or more courses for up to six months in New Zealand.
- Visa holders must have enough money to buy a return ticket.
Working Holiday Visa requirements and conditions for each country
Please visit each country’s page on Immigration New Zealand to see the requirements and conditions of its Working Holiday Visa:
Austria | Belgium | Croatia | Czech | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany | Hungary | Ireland | Italy | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malta | Netherlands | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | United Kingdom
What if you want to work in New Zealand permanently?
Visa holders who want to live and work in New Zealand permanently must explore their visa options to allow them to do that.
New Zealand has work visas for skilled migrants and migrants with job offers from accredited New Zealand employers. Partners of New Zealanders also have visa options that allow them to work in New Zealand.
Our advice? Speak with a licensed immigration advisor so that they can assess your eligibility against the requirements of the various visas. It’s the best way to ensure that you know exactly what options are available to you.