New Zealand Overhauls Employment Visa Rules Amid Migration Surge

New Zealand VISA rules

Wellington: In response to a near-record level of migration, New Zealand has announced immediate reforms to its employment visa program, aiming to create a sustainable intake of migrants and reduce the risk of exploitation. The changes, which echo similar adjustments made by Australia, include:

  • Introduction of an English Language Requirement: Migrants applying for low-skilled roles at levels 4 and 5 will now need to meet English language criteria.
  • Minimum Skills and Experience Threshold: Most roles under the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will require applicants to meet certain skills and work experience benchmarks.
  • Engagement with Work and Income: Employers looking to fill level 4 and 5 positions must consult with Work and Income before migrant approvals are granted.
  • Reduced Maximum Continuous Stay: The duration for most level 4 and 5 roles will be shortened from five years to three years.
  • Disestablishment of Franchisee Accreditation: Businesses will no longer have a separate franchisee category but will apply through standard, high-volume, or triangular employment accreditation to hire overseas workers.

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford highlighted that these steps are designed to attract the skills New Zealand needs while prioritizing the employment of its citizens for roles without skill shortages. The reforms follow the Bestwick review’s recommendations, which identified significant issues with the AEWV processes and suggested improvements to protect migrants from potential exploitation.

New Zealand VISA rules

The statement from the government also noted the influx of 173,000 migrants last year, a figure close to record highs for the nation of approximately 5.1 million people. This surge in migration since the pandemic’s end has sparked concerns about its impact on inflation and the need for a more balanced approach to immigration.