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Transport sector agreement finalised

Photo: Matt Crawford

In December 2022, the Minister of Immigration and Transport announced a transport sector agreement with a 2-year work to residence pathway for truck and bus drivers, and later announced that this would be extended to include critical maritime transport roles.

Median wage exemption for bus drivers

Employers will have a median wage exemption set at $28 an hour when hiring bus drivers for an eligible role on an Accredited Employer Work Visa. This exemption takes effect immediately.

To be eligible for the exemption, the role must either:

  • be for an employer who has signed the All Parties Memorandum of Understanding on Improving Bus Driver Pay and Conditions, or
  • be as a school bus driver on a Ministry of Education-funded school bus service.

Bus drivers hired under the sector agreement will be eligible for Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV) for 3 years, despite being paid below the median wage. This will ensure that they have enough time to complete their 2 years of work in New Zealand required to apply for residence.

Other roles covered by the transport sector agreement are not exempt from the median wage threshold, as the market rate for skilled workers in these roles is already above the median wage.

Under the sector agreement the following professions will have a 2-year work to residence pathway:

  • bus drivers working for an eligible employer in an eligible role (as set out above)
  • truck drivers primarily driving vehicles that require a class 4 or 5 licence
  • ship’s masters (skippers) — must hold Skipper Restricted Limits for 500GT endorsement, or higher qualification by the time they apply for residence
  • deck hands — must hold Qualified Deck Crew or higher qualification by the time they apply for residence

All roles covered by the sector agreement will be able to apply for residence from 29 September 2023 if they have completed the 2 years of work requirement.

The agreement is uncapped and will be reviewed after 12 months. Any changes made to the sector agreement after this review will not affect migrants already on their 2-year work to residence pathway.

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

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