In addition to the Accredited Employer Work visa which is due to commence from 4 July, the government and Immigration NZ have announced some changes to visas for existing work visa holders and families.

Open work visa granted to applicants whose visas expire before 31 December 2022

Work visa holders

Holders of work visas that are expiring between 9 May 2022 and 31 December 2022 have been granted a new open work visa allowing the holder to work for any employer anywhere in New Zealand.

This automatic visa extends the visa term by 24 months. For example, if your current visa expires 24 May 2022, the expiry date will become 22 May 2024.

This only applies to holders of:

  • essential skills work visas;
  • post-study work visas; and
  • partner of a New Zealander work visas

Family

If dependent partner and child visas expire in this time period, they will also have their current visas extended by the same two-year period.

These visas have already been granted but it may take some time for eligible visa holders to be notified – likely by the end of May 2022.

6-month extension granted to work to resident visas expiring before 31 December 2022

Work to resident visa holders

Holders of work to resident visas that are expiring between 9 May 2022 and 31 December 2022 have been extended by 6 months. For example, if your current work to resident visa expires 24 July 2022 this will be extended to 22 January 2023.

This only applies to:

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

Family

If dependent partner and child visas expire in this time period, they will also have their current visas extended by the same 6-month period.

These visas have already been granted but it may take some time for eligible visa holders to be notified – likely by the end of May 2022.

Partnership work visas

A significant change from the past is that, from December 2022, most partners of temporary visa holders will only be granted visitor visas, not work visas.

If they wish to work, they will also need to qualify for an accredited employer work visa (but will be able to work less than 30 hours a week).

However there are exemptions – partners of workers on the new “Green list” occupations or partners of those paid at twice the median wage will still receive open work visas.

Green List of occupations

A new Green List of occupations has also been announced which includes 85 high-skilled, hard-to-fill occupations.

Green list occupations include jobs in construction, engineering, trades, health, ICT and primary industry and will replace the current skills shortage lists.

No job check will be required for these occupations when applying for accredited employer work visas as long as the visa applicant meets the qualification and work experience requirements.

Some sectors granted thresholds below the NZ median wage, for a transitional period

Transition arrangements will allow for certain roles within construction, care, tourism and hospitality sectors to be recruited at rates slightly lower than median wage ($25 per hour in construction or hospitality and $25.39 per hour in the care workforce sector).

These lower-waged positions will include a stand-down period where the visa holder would need to spend 12 consecutive months out of New Zealand after 2 years on the lower-waged work visa or move to a wage at or above the NZ median wage, to avoid the stand-down period.

Employer accreditation required for all employers of migrants from 2023

During 2023, Immigration NZ will introduce a new requirement that any employer wanting to employ any migrant, including working-holiday visa holders or students that were initially exempted, must become accredited with Immigration NZ.

Steven Dunning

Licenced Immigration Adviser