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Temporary work visas changing for employers and workers Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Minister of Immigration has announced changes to the way employers support migrant workers for temporary work visas.

Changes to temporary work visas announced

Between now and 2021, we are making changes to the way employers recruit some migrants for temporary work in New Zealand. The changes will be introduced in stages and fully rolled out in 2021.

Helping regions fill skills shortages while ensuring Kiwis come first | New Zealand Government

What is changing

We will:

  • develop a new employer-led visa application process
  • introduce a new temporary work visa that replaces 6 existing work visas
  • be using the level of pay to categorise a job in place of the existing skill bands — existing skill bands rely on a combination of level of pay and categorising the job under the ANZSCO
  • strengthen the labour market test for low-paid jobs with open access for high-paid jobs in rural regions and lists in cities
  • introduce sector agreements to facilitate access to migrants for targeted sectors
  • reinstate the right for low-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand on visitor visas.

The new process will be designed over the next 18 months, so there is a lot of detail that is not yet available. This includes information about fees, processing times and evidence that employers and migrants will have to provide in support of their applications.

The first set of changes will happen on 7 October 2019 and will only affect Talent Accredited Employers.

Changes to the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa

Employers will lead a new process for employing migrant workers

From 2021, employers wishing to employ migrant workers on the new temporary work visa will use a 3-step process.

  1. An employer check — it will be mandatory for all employers, including those with an existing accreditation, to be accredited under the new application process before they can hire migrants on the new work visa.
  2. A job check — this will include checking that the job is paid in line with the New Zealand market rate and, in some cases, will include a labour market test to ensure New Zealand workers are not available.
  3. A worker check — when the worker applies for a visa, they must show they meet our standard character, identity and health requirements, as well showing they have the skills to do the job they have been offered.

What an employer-led process can achieve

The changes aim to improve how New Zealand's temporary workforce operates by ensuring that:

  • migrant workers are only recruited for genuine labour shortages
  • regional and sector differences in the labour market are recognised when migrant workers are employed
  • employers are encouraged to employ and train more New Zealanders.

Find out more

You can get more information about the changes, including what we know about how they will affect employers and migrants. This information will be kept up to date as further information becomes available.

Changes to temporary work visas


Changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas — overview PDF 2MB

Changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas — what does this mean for employers? PDF 9MB

Changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas — what does this mean for foreign workers? PDF 1MB

Changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas — sector agreements PDF 807KB