'Immigration Rebalance' Bringing Major Changes To NZ Visa Settings

Immigration Rebalance

The Government is adjusting immigration settings, as it moves to fully reconnect with the world by 31 July 2022.

With New Zealand's borders fully reopening by 31 July 2022, the Government has announced a number of changes to immigration settings. These changes are intended to make it easier to fill genuine skills gaps, and make New Zealand an attractive option for migrants.

Before we outline these changes, a few reminders of upcoming visa application deadlines. Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa will close 31 July 2022. Investor 1 & 2 Resident visa applications will also close on 27 July 2022, while applications for it's replacement category - Active Investor Plus Visa - are scheduled to open from September 2022.

What's Changing?

A 'Green List' for temporary work visas

A Green List is being introduced, allowing employers to fill roles without providing proof of advertising. The Green List includes construction, engineering, health and trade occupations.

A  new median wage threshold

A median wage threshold is being introduced for the Accredited Employer Work Visa, it will be adjusted annually after being set at $27.76 per hour from 4 July. There are exemptions to the median wage threshold, and many tourism and hospitality roles will be eligible for a reduced lower wage threshold of $25 per hour until April 2023.

Streamlined pathways to residence

The pathway to residence has become easier for migrants working in occupations on the Green List. Some will be able to apply for residence directly after September 2022, while others will be eligible for residence after two years working in New Zealand.

Migrants who are not on the Green List, but who earn twice the median wage can also qualify for residence after two years on an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

There may be other pathways to residence for migrants through the Skilled Migrant Category. The Government has more announcements to make on the Skilled Migrant residence pathway, so keep an eye out for further changes in this area.

Partnership work visas

From December 2022, most partners of temporary migrant workers will be granted visitors visas. If they wish to work, they will need to qualify for an Accredited Employer Work Visa. As a partner, they are eligible to work less that 30 hours per week.

Partners of migrants who work in an occupation on the Green List of who earn twice the median wage continue to receive open work rights.

Student and post-study work visas

Post-Study Work Visa's for most international students will now mirror the time they study in New Zealand, up to a maximum of three years. This does not apply to Master’s and PHD students, who will continue to receive three years’ post-study work rights, as long as they have spent 30 weeks in New Zealand undertaking full-time study.

These changes will apply to students who apply for a visa from 11 May 2022.

From 31 July 2022, the cost-of-living funds required for international students is being increased. Tertiary and English language students will need $20,000 per year of study, and primary and secondary school students fund requirements will be set at $17,000 per year. 

These changes wont change the visa conditions for current work and student visa holders or affect people with open work rights.

If you you require assistance or clarification, please contact our Immigration specialist Amalie Blackman