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Latest Updates to NZ’s Immigration Settings

From 23 September 2023, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced several changes to New Zealand’s workforce and immigration pathways.

The Green List will have 17 new roles added, ranging from engineering and ICT positions to roles in construction and vehicle maintenance.

To support the horticulture and wine sectors, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme cap has been increased to 19,500 for the 2023/24 season.

The Recovery Visa will no longer accept new applications from 23 September 2023. However, current visa holders in New Zealand can apply for a 3-month extension.

Additional roles will be added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement next year.

Legislative changes have been proposed to the Immigration Act 2009, requiring a judicial warrant for out-of-hours compliance visits to ensure proper checks and balances. The legislative change will be pursued as a standalone bill in the next term.

Updates to the Green List

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recently reviewed industry roles. Following which, 17 new roles will be added to the Green List from March 2024:

  • Aviation Engineer (Avionics, Aeronautical, Aerospace Engineer)
  • Naval Architects (aka Marine Designer)
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician
  • ICT Database and System Administrator
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  • Road Roller Operator
  • Paving Plant Operator
  • Corrections Officer
  • Metal Fabricator
  • Pressure Welder
  • Welder
  • Fitter (General)
  • Fitter and Turner
  • Fitter-Welder
  • Metal Machinist (First Class)
  • Panel Beater
  • Vehicle Painter

More specific information will be revealed nearer to March 2024.

Additionally, from 29 September 2023, applications will be open for the Green List and Sector Agreement Work to Residence pathways for existing occupations. Migrants with a minimum of 2 years of work experience in eligible roles from these lists can apply for residence, provided they meet age, health, character, and English proficiency criteria.

Cap increase for RSE scheme

The cap for the RSE scheme will rise by 500 workers from the previous year to 19,500 workers for the 2023/2024 season.

This adjustment facilitates the employment of workers from Pacific nations, primarily supporting the horticulture and wine sectors where local workforce is insufficient. This decision is in response to industry demands and considers the broader implications on New Zealand’s labour market and accommodation availability.

Closure for Response Recovery Visa Applications

From 23 September 2023, the Government has declared that the Recovery Visa will stop accepting new applications.

Existing visa holders currently residing in New Zealand are eligible to apply for a 3-month extension to the Recovery Visa, for extra time to transition to longer term work visas if required. For more information, visit the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) page.

Immigration New Zealand will contact current visa holders as their visas approach expiration and inform them of their options. Current visa holders can apply for extension for the Specific Purpose Work Visa using the online form.

New roles for Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement

New roles will be added early 2024, to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement, with more information disclosed closer to 2024.

These roles are:

  • Driller’s Assistant (821912) 
  • Earthmoving Labourer (821113) 
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General) (721211) 
  • Linemarker (721912) 
  • Machine Operators n.e.c (711999) 
  • Mechanic’s Assistant (899916)  
  • Road Traffic Controller (899923)

Legislative updates to out-of-hours Compliance Visits

Following Mike Heron KC’s independent review, the Cabinet has agreed to modify the Immigration Act 2009, necessitating a judicial warrant for out-of-hours compliance activities.

This amendment aims to ensure fair use of powers and introduces a legal oversight mechanism. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has endorsed the review’s four operational suggestions and is working on their implementation.

A detailed legislative proposal will be presented by November 2023, with plans to advance it as an independent bill in the upcoming term.

For any questions regarding this update or any further immigration matters, please contact Arno Nothnagel, our NZ Immigration Director, here.

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