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NZ immigration streamlined to relieve labour shortage

A number of changes have recently been made by the New Zealand Immigration Minister, Michael Wood, to address the shortage of workers in a wide range of industries.

In summary, the key changes are:

  • Sector agreements established for aged care, construction and infrastructure, meat processing, seafood, seasonal snow and adventure tourism, effective from 31 October 2022
  • Doubling of Working Holiday Scheme cap for 2022/23 will see an extra 12,000 working holiday makers able to enter New Zealand
  • Onshore working holiday makers visas expiring between 26 August 2022 and 31 May 2023 will be extended for 6 months to keep workers that are already in country, and those offshore given more time to travel.


The measures include providing median wage exemptions to crucial sectors through Sector Agreements, temporarily doubling numbers under the Working Holiday Scheme, and extending visas to retain labour already in country.


Sector Agreements

The sector agreements provide limited exemptions to the median wage requirement for hiring migrant workers on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) in specific occupations and sectors, in exchange for ongoing improvements.

A Sector Agreement allows sectors which have traditionally relied on lower-paid migrants, time to improve attraction and retention of domestic workers, put significant effort into retaining, training, and upskilling New Zealanders, and invest in technology and new business models where appropriate.

Each industry sector agreement outlines the Government’s expectations for improvement and performance against these, and will influence future decisions around access to immigration.

A summary of the Sector Agreements has been produced by New Zealand Immigration which include duration of agreement, number of migrant workers, occupations included, wage threshold, and maximum visa duration – click here for the Fact Sheet.


Working Holiday Makers

The Government has also announced changes to help ease casual workforce shortages by temporarily increasing access to working holiday makers by extending visas of those in country and making an additional 12,000 spaces available. This is a one-off increase to recognize the spots that were unused last year due to the border closure. New visas will be issued to people from October 2022 allowing, them to enter New Zealand by 31 January 2023 and to stay for 12 months.

The objective is to assist sectors to retain staff by extending the visas of working holiday makers already in New Zealand with visas expiring between 26 August 2022 and 31 May 2023, by six months.
In addition, those who previously held a working holiday visa but did not travel due to Covid-19, can now come to New Zealand for the summer.


To discuss how we can assist, contact Arno Nothnagel, our NZ Immigration Director:

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