New Zealand border fully reopening by July 2022, new immigration settings announced

Published: 11 May 2022

The Government has announced a new faster timeline for reopening the border and reconnecting New Zealand with the world. New Zealand’s border will now be fully reopened by the end of July – 3 months earlier than originally planned.

Visitors applying from Pacific Island Forum countries (excluding Australia) will now be able to apply for visas from 16 May as entry to New Zealand from the Pacific is a Government priority. From 4 July all work visa categories will be open for applications, including the Accredited Employer Work Visa, and from 31 July all student and visitor visa categories will reopen. The maritime border will also reopen on 31 July.

In addition, Work to Residence visa holders who were onshore on 9 May and whose visas are expiring on or before 31 December have had their visa extended by 6 months and 2-year open work visas have been granted to Essential Skills, Post-Study Work and Partner of a New Zealander work visa holders who were also onshore on 9 May and whose visas are expiring on or before 31 December.

The Government has also announced changes designed to make it easier to attract and hire high-skilled migrants, while supporting some sectors to continue their shift away from relying on lower-skilled migrant workers.

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 our plans for economic recovery from COVID-19.

What the changes include

From 4 July

  • The Accredited Employer Work Visa will include a median wage threshold
  • A green list will make it easier for employers to hire and attract migrants for high-skilled, hard-to-fill positions
  • New sector agreements to provide for short-term or ongoing need to access lower-paid migrants.

From September 2022

Streamlined pathways to residence for migrants in green list occupations or paid twice the median wage

From December 2022

Most partners of temporary migrant workers will need to qualify for an Accredited Employer Work Visa in their own right, instead of automatically getting an open work visa

Other changes

  • Changes to post-study work rights and cost-of-living requirements for future students.
  • During 2023 a new requirement will come into effect requiring employers to be accredited to employ any migrant.

Read the Ministerial announcement:

Fully open border and immigration changes speed up economic growth(external link) —

Find out more on the Immigration New Zealand website:

New Zealand border fully reopening by July 2022(external link) — Immigration New Zealand

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