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NZ fully opens border with more positive immigration changes scheduled

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a major package of reforms, which include an early full opening of New Zealand’s border and a simplification of immigration settings, to address the immediate skill shortages in New Zealand and speed up the economic recovery from COVID-19.

This Immigration Rebalance plan seeks to lift working conditions for everyone, improve career pathways for New Zealanders and encourage businesses to focus on increasing productivity and resilience as part of plans for New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

Here is a summary of the major changes:

  • Border fully open two months early from 11:59 pm 31 July
  • Significantly simplified immigration processes that provide faster processing for businesses
  • New Green List that includes over 85 hard to fill roles created to attract and retain high-skilled workers to fill skill shortages
  • Green List will provide streamlined and prioritised pathway to residency incentivising high skilled healthcare, engineers, trade, and tech sector workers to relocate to New Zealand long term
  • Visa extensions for around 20,000 migrants already in New Zealand to ensure skilled workers stay in country
  • New sector specific agreements, to help industries transition from a reliance on low-wage, low skill migrant labour, including additional measures to support the rebuild of our tourism sector
  • Cruise ships able to return with the opening of the maritime border from 31 July
  • Full resumption of international education from 31 July
  • Apprenticeship Boost extended to the end of 2023, supporting an extra 38,000 New Zealanders into trades
  • Online visitor visa applications reopen to Pacific Island Forum countries (excluding Australia) from 16 May


To help reduce the skills shortage in particular industries, new sector agreements will be developed for the care; construction and infrastructure; meat processing; seafood; and seasonal snow and adventure tourism sectors will provide for a short-term or ongoing need for access to lower-paid migrants.

The announcement includes around 20,000 visa holders with visas expiring before 2023, will be granted either a six-month extension or a new two-year visa with open work conditions, so they and their employers won’t be affected by the changes and the skills can be kept within New Zealand.

For full details including dates and fact sheets for the sector agreements, the green list, and plans for a simplified residence pathway, click here


For further information on this announcement or if you require assistance, please get in touch with our expert NZ team.

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