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Changes to Partner of a Worker Work Visa confirmed

From 31 May 2023, partners of Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) holders who apply for a new Partner of a Worker Work Visa may have new work conditions in the visa.

17 May 2023
4 minute read

Changes to Partner of a Worker Work Visa have now been confirmed. These changes are part of the Government’s plan to rebalance the Immigration system to support a higher-productivity, higher-wage economy.

Work conditions for partners of migrant workers

People who successfully apply for a Partner of a Worker Work Visa on or after 31 May 2023 may have new conditions that mean:

  • they can only work for an accredited employer
    Check if an employer is accredited
  • they cannot be self-employed
  • they cannot work below the median wage in roles covered by capped sector agreements.
  • if they are working in a role:
    • not covered by an uncapped sector agreement, they must be paid at least the median wage in effect at the time they receive their visa, or job offer, whichever is later. This is currently NZD $29.66.
    • covered by an uncapped sector agreement, they must be paid at least the relevant wage threshold in place. They will not be subject to a stand-down period.

This includes most partners of workers who hold an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) or an Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV).

Partners do not need to have a job offer to apply for this visa, and employers do not need to complete a Job Check. When granted, partners can change employers without applying for a Variation of Conditions. There is no minimum number of hours that partners need to work.

People who are currently employed will need to ensure their employment meets the conditions of their new visa when any new visa takes effect. People who are not employed will need to ensure any future job offer meets these conditions.

Any later changes to the employer’s accreditation, the median wage and sector agreements will not impact the visa holder if they remain in the same employment.

From 31 May, people will be able to check on the INZ website if an employer is accredited.

The changes do not affect current work visa conditions or people who apply before 31 May 2023. There are no changes to visa conditions for partners of New Zealanders or partners of those holding other work visas (such as a Post Study Work Visa).

Exceptions for partners of highly paid and Green List workers

Some partners of AEWV or ESWV holders will continue to be eligible for a work visa allowing them to work in any occupation for any employer in New Zealand, with no median wage threshold. This includes partners of:

  • migrants who are paid at least twice the median wage, or
  • migrants who are working in a role on the Green List.

These exceptions include migrants who did not meet these requirements when they received their visa, but have since met them through a pay increase or their role being added to the Green List. Evidence of eligibility will be needed as part of the Partner of a Worker Work Visa application, or through a Variation of Conditions request.

Some AEWV and ESWV holders cannot support a partner work visa

AEWV holders who are covered by a sector agreement and paid below the median wage are not eligible to support a partner work visa. ESWV holders paid below the median wage (or lower-skilled if the visa application was made before 27 July 2020) are also not eligible to support a partner work visa.

If they receive a pay rise that means they earn at least the median wage, they may be able to support their partner for a work visa. They do not need to apply for a new work visa to support a partner, unless they want their eligibility for a longer work visa to be assessed based on the new salary. This is because partners generally receive a visa for the same length of time as their supporting partner’s work visa.

Partners of temporary workers can explore other visas to see if they are eligible to apply in their own right. Partners who do not want to work can apply for a Visitor Visa.

More information

AEWV roles exempt from paying the median wage

Sector agreements and hiring migrants on an AEWV

Wage rate requirements for visas

Green List roles

Partner of a Worker Work Visa

Check if an employer is accredited

Settle migrant staff (information for employers)