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Changes for Partner of a Worker Work Visa

Photo: Julian Apse

The visa conditions for new Partner of Worker Work Visas are changing this month. Many people who apply for these visas from 31 May 2023 will need to work for an Accredited Employer and be paid at least the median wage.

Work conditions for partners of migrant workers

People who successfully apply for a Partner of a Worker Work Visa on or after 31 May 2023 may have new conditions that means:

  • They can only work for an Accredited Employer.
  • They cannot work in roles covered by capped Sector Agreements.
  • If working in a role not covered by a Sector Agreement, they must be paid at least the median wage in effect at the time they receive their visa, or when they receive a job offer, whichever is later. This is currently NZD $29.66.
  • If working in a role covered by an uncapped Sector Agreement, they must be paid at least the relevant wage threshold in place. They will not be subject to a stand down period.

These changes affect many partners of workers who hold an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) or an Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV), with some exceptions listed below.
Partners do not need to have a job offer to apply for this visa, and employers do not need to complete a job check. When granted, partners can change accredited employers without applying for a Variation of Conditions. There is no minimum number of hours that partners need to work.

People who have a job when their new visa is approved will need to ensure their employment meets the conditions of their new visa when it takes effect. People who are not employed will need to ensure any future job offer meets these conditions.

Any subsequent changes to the employer’s accreditation, the median wage and Sector Agreements will not impact the visa holder while they remain in the same employment.
From 31 May, people will be able to check on the INZ website if an employer is accredited.

The changes do not affect current work visa conditions or people who apply before 31 May 2023. There are no changes to visa conditions for partners of New Zealanders or partners of those holding other work visas (such as a Post Study Work Visa).

Exceptions for partners of highly paid and Green List workers

Some partners of AEWV or ESWV holders will continue to be eligible for a work visa allowing them to work for any employer in New Zealand, with no median wage threshold. This includes partners of:

  • Migrants who are paid at least twice the median wage, or
  • Migrants who are working in a role on the Green List.

These exceptions include migrants who did not meet these requirements when they received their visa, but have since met them through a pay increase or their role being added to the Green List. Evidence of eligibility will be needed as part of the Partner of a Worker Work Visa application, or through a Variation of Conditions request

Some AEWV and ESWV holders cannot support a partner on a work visa

AEWV holders who are covered by any Sector Agreement and paid below the median wage are not eligible to support a partner. ESWV holders paid below the median wage (or lower-skilled if the visa application was made before 27 July 2020) are also not eligible to support a partner.

If they receive a pay rise that means they earn at least the median wage, they may be able to support their partner for a work visa. Evidence of eligibility will be needed as part of the Partner of a Worker Work Visa application.

They don’t need to apply for a new work visa to support a partner, unless they want their eligibility for a longer work visa to be assessed based on the new salary. This is because partners generally receive a visa for the same length of time as their supporting partner’s work visa.

Partners of temporary workers can explore other visas to see if they are eligible to apply in their own right. Partners who do not want to work can apply for a Visitor Visa.

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

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