What The Border Opening Means For New Zealand Visas

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The New Zealand border opening has been brought forward, and there are significant changes for both worker and visitor visas.

Originally planned for October, the Government announced on Wednesday (11 May 2022) that the border opening would be brought forward three months to 31 July, 2022.

As a result, applications for both student and visitor visas will open on 31 July 2022, and the cruise ship industry will be back on board with the maritime border reopening on this date as well.

Ahead of the border opening, all work visa categories will open for applications on 4 July 2022, with the Accredited Employer Work Visa replacing six temporary work visa categories, including the Essential Skills Work Visa.

Below is a further break down of the main changes for individual visa categories.


Accredited Employer Work Visas

Applications for the Essential Skills Work Visa will close on 3 July 2022, with the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) being introduced on 4 July 2022. Employers can begin applying for Accredited Employer status from 23 May 2022. 

The AEWV will be available mainly to workers earning over the median wage. From 4 July the median wage will be $27.76 per hour.

There is a new green list of occupations which is replacing the current skills shortage lists. This is intended to make filling specialised roles easier, and create fast-tracked resident opportunities for migrant workers with these skills. You can find the new green list here.

There is also a transition arrangement allowing for certain roles in construction, care, tourism and hospitality sectors to be recruited at rates lower than median wage. You can find the list of roles exempt from the AEWV market test here.

Most partners of temporary migrant workers will need to qualify for their own AEWV or Visitor Visa From December 2022.

In 2023, a requirement will be introduced for all employers to be accredited to employ any migrant, including those with open work rights (such as working holidaymakers or students).

Working holidays

The application opening date for five working holiday schemes have been brought forward (South Korea, China, Taiwan, Argentina, Chile), while applications for the Luxembourg and Czech Republic working holiday schemes have been moved back.

Work to residence

Certain work to residence visas expiring between 9 May and 31 December 2022 (inclusive), have been extended by six months from the expiry date of the previous visa. The eligible visas are:

  • Talent (Accredited Employers)
  • Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports)
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List
  • Skilled Migrant Category Job Search Visa
  • South Island Contribution.

On 9 May 2022, open work visas were granted to those holding certain visas expiring between 9 May and 31 December 2022 (inclusive). The new open work visas will expire two years from the expiry date of the previous visa. The list of visas which are eligible are:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Post Study Work Visa
  • Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa
  • Eligible Ukraine nationals granted a temporary visa on 10 March 2022

Pacific visitor visas

From 16 May 2022, visa applications will reopen for visitors applying from Pacific Islands Forum countries.
Applications for Visitor Visas are already open for travellers coming from Cook Islands and Niue.

Applications from the Pacific can no longer be made in person using a paper form. They must be now completed via Immigration Online

 For the official information via Immigration NZ, please visit their website.

If you you require assistance or clarification, please contact our Immigration specialist Amalie Blackman or email email@gqlaw.nz