The New Zealand government has proposed significant changes to
the employer-assisted work visa framework which, if implemented,
will affect all New Zealand employers supporting work visa
applications and all individuals applying for employer-supported
What are the proposed changes?
A “gateway framework” is set to replace all
employer-supported work visa categories. Three stages will have to
be passed before a work visa can be approved:
- Employer check
This involves mandatory accreditation of all employers seeking
to support work visa applications. Three categories of
accreditation are proposed, including standard accreditation, labor
hire accreditation and high-volume accreditation (for employers
recruiting more than five foreign workers over a 12 month
- Job check
This phase will introduce:
- Regional labor market test rules; or
- Relevant industry sector agreements; or
- No labor market testing for salaries at 200% of the median wage
(currently NZD 104,000).
- Individual check
This final stage will assess the identity, character, health,
qualifications and experience of the work visa applicant.
Work to residence (accredited employer)
- The minimum base salary for a work to residence visa will be
increased, from NZD 55,000 to NZD 79,560.
- The option to get a permanent resident visa after two years of
holding a work to residence visa, with a salary of more than NZD
90,000 will be removed. Employees will still be able to acquire
standard residence but will need to continue living in New Zealand
for a further two years to obtain a permanent resident visa.
- Employer accreditation will be limited to 24 months as this
category is phased out, by 2021.
Removing the ANZSCO skill level assessment for Work Visas
- Jobs will instead be classified as “low” or
“high” paid. This will be based on whether the hourly
rate is above or below the median wage (currently $25).
- Pay rate together with “Labor Market Region” will
determine the length of visa issued.
- This change will be introduced in mid-2020.
- ANZSCO will be retained for Skilled Migrant Residence Visa
- ANZSCO will still be used to ensure that the rate of pay is not
less than market rate and the visa applicant is suitably
Introduction of sector agreements
To be negotiated with sectors who employ high numbers of foreign
workers, in an attempt to reduce reliance on migrant labor. Sectors
to be targeted include:
- Residential care
- Meat processing
- Tourism and hospitality
- Road Freight Transport Residential care and meat processing
agreements are to be introduced first, in mid-2020.
Removing dependent visa restrictions for low paid workers
Provided the minimum income threshold is met, low paid workers
- Support a partner for a visitor (not work) visa; and
- Support dependent children for visas as domestic students.
This new policy will be introduced in mid-2020.
Retaining the stand-down period for low paid workers and
- The stand down period will continue for low-paid workers,
forcing them to depart New Zealand after holding three 12-month
- The first group of impacted foreign workers must leave New
Zealand, from August 2020.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.