New Zealand Implements Notable Immigration Updates

Published date29 December 2022
Subject MatterImmigration, General Immigration, Work Visas
Law FirmMayer Brown
AuthorMs María E. Ferré and John Corgan

As 2022 draws to a close, the New Zealand government has announced a variety of immigration updates that affect foreign nationals' work authorization and employers' accreditation status. These updates include a new online application process for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), simplifications in the variation process for holders of Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWVs) and Essential Skills Work Visas (ESWVs), automatic extensions for certain employer accreditations, and streamlined processes to enable Critical Purpose Visitor Visa holders to obtain Specific Purpose visas while staying in their current role.

Skilled Migrant Category Updates

The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) resident visa is designed for foreign nationals who have skills that will contribute to New Zealand's economic growth. Before an individual can apply, they must submit an expression of interest (EOI) to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that details their work experience and qualifications. Eligible foreign nationals will then be sent an Invitation to Apply by INZ. As of December 2022, applicants may now submit their SMC applications through a streamlined online process.

Accredited Employer Work Visa Updates

Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWVs) are temporary visas available to foreign nationals who have a job offer from an accredited employer and the skills and qualifications for the job. AEWVs are tied to the employer who offered the foreign national the visa application for the length of the visa. If the foreign national's situation changes, they must apply to vary the conditions of their visa or apply for an entirely new visa.

Under INZ's updated policy, AEWV holders may now vary their employer, occupation, and work location by submitting a Job Change application. These changes can only be made if the new employer is accredited. AEWV holders earning a salary below the median wage also require an exemption.

Separately, INZ has delayed a plan that would restrict the work authorization of AEWV partners. The plan was originally set to be implemented in December 2022, but has been pushed back to April 2023.

INZ has also announced an automatic 12-month extension for employers whose accreditation is filed on or before July 4, 2023. A proposed expansion of the accreditation system has been delayed until 2024.

Essential Skills Work Visa Updates

New Zealand's Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) was designed for foreign nationals with a job offer for a role that could not be filled by a New...

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