New border exception to support rapidly growing tech sector

Published: 13 December 2021

The Government has announced today a new border class exception for the technology sector, to support this rapidly growing industry to bring in overseas talent where it is most needed.

Class exceptions allow the Government to target workforce groups where there is a clear need for an exception to the current tight border restrictions.

The class exception will enable 600 specialist tech workers and their partners and dependent children to come to New Zealand, targeting areas of the sector most in need of overseas talent, including software development, product managers, cyber security and interactive media.

For the last 2 years, the Government has been working closely with industry on addressing the key opportunities and challenges facing the tech sector. At the top of the list is a mismatch between the skills available domestically and what the sector needs.

The sector is now one of New Zealand’s top 3 exporters, and employment in the digital technologies sector has been growing at almost twice the rate of the general economy over recent years. It has continued to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic and this has placed pressure on the demand for talent. This class exception will release some of the pressure on New Zealand tech firms and support their continued growth and export earnings.

The class exception includes 4 categories of workers:

  • Software and Application Programmers
  • ICT Managers
  • ICT Security Specialist
  • Multimedia Specialists

There will also be an annual salary threshold that will need to be met – at least $120,000 per annum for software and application programmers, ICT managers and ICT security specialists, and at least $95,000 for multimedia specialists.

The industry and government are working through the details for a scheme for allocating the class exception, with the view to having it operational in early 2022. More details will be released in coming weeks.

Media release on the Beehive website(external link)

MBIE media contact