NZ Immigration

Easier Visas Renewals – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Many business owners breathed a huge sigh of relief on Friday 16 July when Immigration New Zealand announced that compulsory employer accreditation has been deferred until mid-2022 and Essential Skills visas can now be extended for longer, with minimal paperwork required. But what does this really mean for your business?

The Good

  • You no longer need to race to prepare for employer accreditation in November.
  • Your migrant workers can continue working in New Zealand, for at least another two years.
  • Existing visas can be renewed without a labour market or WINZ check for staff already working for you at least 30 hours per week, who will be working in the same role and region.
  • Migrants earning under $27 per hour will get a two-year Essential Skills work visa, and those earning $27 or more they will get a three-year Essential Skills work visa.
  • People on Post Study work visas who are already working for you can also apply for a visa extension, without a labour market check (subject to some conditions).
  • Someone holding a Work to Residence visa can still make a Variation of Conditions application to work for you.
  • People earning $27 or more who already have a mid-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa can still apply for a Variation of Conditions to work for you in the same role and region as their current job.

The Bad

  • There are still a lot of unknowns as to how the new visa rules will be applied and what further changes may be made.
  • While having their visa extended for two years instead of six months provides some much-needed short-term certainty for migrants, it does not provide the long-term certainty many are looking for, especially those seeking permanent residence.

The Ugly

  • The extension of the six-month visa to two years indicates that our borders are unlikely to be reopening any time soon.
  • The labour shortage in New Zealand is predicted to get worse, with a shrinking pool of available skilled workers.
  • Some migrants have been working in New Zealand for up to 10 years without gaining residency and are still no closer to being able get a mortgage to own a home.
  • We are hearing numerous stories of migrants getting fed up waiting for residence in New Zealand and actively looking to immigrate elsewhere.
  • Canada has opened their doors to migrants and are planning to secure 1.2 million new permanent residents by the end of 2023. This is a tempting option for skilled migrants working in New Zealand who are currently unable to get residence here.
  • Australian businesses are looking to New Zealanders to fill their skill shortages – and with closed borders preventing them looking elsewhere some aggressive poaching is being seen. The attractive employment and lifestyle opportunities being offered in Australia are luring many skilled workers to move across the ditch, further adding to our own skill shortage here.
    • We are seeing rampant poaching of skilled workers being offered higher salaries to change companies.
    • Until the end of October, accredited employers can offer migrants $38.25 and put them on a Work to Residence visa, which is causing a lot of migrants to jump jobs.
  • We are hearing many reports of skilled workers making excessive remuneration and employment demands. One job advertised for $60K ending up offering $85K with a four-day week and company car thrown in.

What Hasn’t Changed

  • There has been no change to the visa rules for partners and dependent children.
  • People wanting a Work to Residence visa will still need to apply for it in the normal way.
  • A new visa application will still be required, with a labour market check and evidence of relevant qualifications and work experience etc if you are hiring new staff, promoting staff, changing their role, they are earning less than $27 per hour, or they will be working in different a location.


We are here to help:

  • We can develop a mitigation strategy to help you support and retain staff who might be vulnerable to being poached or deciding to move overseas.
  • We can help you develop a plan to secure your future workforce and become an employer of choice.

Book a free chat

We invite you to talk to us to find out how to can attract and retain the skilled staff you need to run your business.

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