Sector agreements and hiring migrants on an AEWV

Find out about the government's sector agreements and wage exemptions that allow specific occupations and employment sectors to pay less than the median wage for migrant workers.

Sector agreements and median wage exemptions

The Accredited Employment Work Visa (AEWV) is available for employers who want to recruit migrant workers in roles paying the median wage or above. Sector agreements and wage exemptions allow employers to hire migrants paid below the median wage for some roles.

Sector agreements

These sectors have sector agreements that allow them to pay less than the median wage for some roles for a limited time:

  • care workforce
  • seafood processing (onshore)
  • seafood (sea-based)
  • construction and infrastructure
  • meat processing
  • seasonal snow and adventure tourism
  • transport.

The seafood (sea-based) sector agreement allows for migrant workers to be paid under the median wage. But these workers are not hired on the AEWV, instead, they are employed on the Fishing Crew Work Visa.

Wage exemptions

The tourism and hospitality sector has a temporary exemption that allows them to pay less than the median wage for some roles for a limited time.

Recruitment limits

Some sectors also have limits set on how many migrants they can recruit. In the sector agreements they are called 'capped' sectors. Sectors that do not have limits on recruiting migrants are called 'uncapped' sectors.

Uncapped sectors

The uncapped sectors are:

  • care workforce
  • tourism and hospitality
  • construction and infrastructure
  • seasonal snow and adventure tourism
  • transport.

Capped sectors

Capped sectors have a limit on how many workers they can hire and pay below the median wage each year. The capped sectors are:

  • meat processing: 320 workers per year
  • seafood processing (onshore): 600 workers per year.

The allocation of these caps is carried out by the Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Seafood New Zealand. MIA and Seafood New Zealand contact employers through industry channels with further information on getting a share of the cap.

You can contact MIA or Seafood New Zealand for more information about the cap.


Seafood New Zealand:

Setting sector pay rates

The government sets the pay rate after consulting with relevant government agencies and sector representatives. The pay rates are different for each sector due to varying labour market conditions.

Maximum continuous stay for AEWV roles paying below median wage

Maximum continuous stay is the total time a person can be on an AEWV before they must spend time outside New Zealand to be eligible for another AEWV. From 27 November 2023, there will be a maximum continuous stay for everyone who has an AEWV.

Maximum continuous stay and longer visa length for the AEWV


The time spent outside New Zealand before being eligible for a further AEWV is currently called a ‘stand-down period’.

You can check the time required outside New Zealand (stand-down period), visa length and maximum continuous stay for all AEWV roles exempt from paying the median wage.

AEWV roles exempt from paying the median wage

Sector agreement improvements

Sectors are expected to work towards a more productive and resilient workforce, by reducing their need for migrant workers. The expectations are different between the sector agreements, but in general sectors are required to:

  • increase investment in worker training, upskilling, and career development
  • improve domestic worker attraction and retention numbers
  • increase investment, where appropriate, in new business models and labour-saving technology.

In addition to these expectations, sectors also must put in place Workforce Transition Plans and Industry Transformation Plans.

Sector agreements and staff shortages

The sector agreements are not intended to resolve labour shortages. The sector agreement arrangements help give these sectors, which have traditionally relied on lower-paid migrants, time to make changes to their business and transition their workforce to rely less on migrant workers.

Government monitoring of sector improvements

Government will monitor progress on the expectations and this monitoring will be used in the 2024 reviews and development of Pacific programmes.

The details of this monitoring are still being worked through with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) and the sector agencies.