The Year in Immigration: New Zealand Immigration Policies and Updates

New Zealand Immigration Policies and Updates
With 2022 quickly approaching the end, the New Zealand government recently unveiled a selection of immigration reforms that will have an impact on work authorization for foreign nationals as well as employers’ accreditation status.

The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) has an online application process to make the filing experience convenient, while employers are now also able to simplify their Variation processes for Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWVs) and Essential Skills Work Visas (ESWVs). Additionally, certain employer accreditations have been automatically extended and streamlined services allow Critical Purpose Visa holders the chance to obtain Specific Purpose visas with ease.

Skilled Migrant Category Updates

For those eager to contribute their talents and skills towards New Zealand’s economic development, the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) resident visa is a great option. Before submitting an application, individuals must provide Immigration New Zealand (INZ) with an expression of interest containing specifics about their work history and qualifications.Starting in December 2022, foreign nationals who meet the established requirements will be issued an Invitation to Apply by the Immigration New Zealand (INZ). Submitting applications for SMC has now become more convenient through a newly-implemented online process.

Accredited Employer Work Visa Updates

AEWVs, or Accredited Employer Work Visas, are temporary visas that permit foreign nationals to work in a position for which they have both the qualifications and skillset. These visas are connected to their employer who provided them with the visa application – if anything changes within this relationship, applicants must either alter the conditions of their existing visa or apply for an entirely new one.
Under Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) revised regulations, holders of an Essential Skills Work Visa (AEWV) are now permitted to make changes to their employer, job role and workplace by submitting a Job Variation Request. However, these alterations can only be made if the new employer is accredited; workers earning salaries below the median wage also require exemption from this rule.
INZ has postponed its plan to limit the work authorizations of AEWV partners, which was slated for December 2022 and is now set for April 2023.
INZ has granted employers with filed accreditation on or before July 4, 2023 an automatic extension of one year. Unfortunately the planned enlargement of the accreditation system will be delayed until 2024.

Essential Skills Work Visa Updates

If you have been offered a job that could not be filled by New Zealanders, the Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) is an ideal choice for foreign nationals. Unfortunately, applications are no longer accepted after July 4th 2022; however, existing ESWV holders can still apply to vary their visa terms. Under the new regulations, ESWV holders can apply for variations only if an employer performs a valid labor market test. However, these applicants may still seek changes in their employers, occupations and work locations even if they are paid less than the median wage or need to update information regarding their workplace.

Critical Purpose Visitor Visa Updates

During the pandemic-induced border closures, New Zealand opened its doors to foreign nationals with Critical Purpose Visitor Visas. This 12-month visa provides them with an opportunity to apply for a Specific Purpose Work Visa which enables individuals to come and work in New Zealand temporarily as they strive towards completing their specific purpose or associated event. By granting this privilege, those seeking new opportunities are given the chance of realising their dreams! The simplified application process would enable Critical Purpose Visitor Visa holders to remain in their current role and work for a maximum of 3 years in New Zealand.

Green List Updates

INZ has just updated New Zealand’s Green List to assist foreign nationals looking for high-skilled jobs in the country. This list offers a tiered pathway to expedited residency, with nurses, specialist doctors and midwives already being added under Tier 1 (Straight to Residency). In addition, registered auditors will be included from March 2023 onwards.


INZ has recently announced various updates and short-term visa changes to help facilitate the migration process. Although these developments have been delayed due to the pandemic, they enable foreign nationals to take advantage of job opportunities in New Zealand while providing them with a path towards permanent residency. For more information on immigration policies, please book a free consultation with us.

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