The Border Reopening and Visa Changes

The recent government border announcement will see New Zealand welcoming people into the country earlier than initially expected. From the 4th of July, work visa categories will be open, including the new Accredited Employer Work Visa. The overall Immigration Rebalance plan aims to lift the working conditions for both migrants and New Zealanders by encouraging employers to seek Kiwis for work while offering fairer conditions for migrants coming in for a job.

From July, migrants can come into the country under the Accredited Employer Work Visa. Additional visa types will become available a little later on.

Student Visas

Currently, there is a border class exception for up to 5000 international students. Those who qualify for this will be able to come into the country as soon as their visas are granted.

From the 31st of July 2022, student visas will open fully, 3 months ahead of the initial October prediction. Additional changes for post-graduate work and study will be implemented from the 11th of May:

  • Students will be eligible for post-study work rights if they study a bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s honours degree, postgraduate diploma, master’s or doctoral degree that they have studied full time in New Zealand for a minimum of 30 weeks.
  • For students undertaking a qualification at Level 7 and below (excepting bachelor’s degrees), they will be eligible for post-study work rights if the qualification is relevant to an occupation on the Green List.
  • There are 20 roles on the Green List that have direct pathways from Level 7 and below level qualifications. These include: Construction Project Manager; Project Builder; 12 specific engineering roles; Civil Engineering Technician; Electrical Engineering Technician; Secondary School teacher; Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teacher; Automotive Electrician; and Diesel Motor Mechanic.

Post study work rights for non-degree students who have studied for Green List relevant qualifications will only allow the person to work in that occupation. However, they can switch employers and work for less than the median wage.

a desk with a visa application on it

For those with a Post-Study Work Visa, the visa will now mirror the time they study in New Zealand, up to a maximum of three years. Master’s and PhD students continue to receive three years’ post-study work rights, as long as they have spent 30 weeks in New Zealand undertaking full-time study.

International students will no longer be able to apply for a second post-study work visa. The aim here is to reduce the length of time that someone can work in New Zealand without applying for an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Students who have started studying an eligible qualification under the current settings, and who have applied for or hold a visa for that specific study, will be considered under the ‘old’ post-study rules. This includes the 5000 students who enter under the latest border exception, as long as they meet the educational requirements under the current settings. Students who have started a qualification offshore and who apply for a visa from the 11of May will be considered under the new rules.

These changes aim to align post-study work rights for non-degree study with the skills New Zealand needs. It also addresses unsustainable post-study working trends seen pre-COVID.

Visitor Visas

From May 16th, visitor visas will be open to those from a Pacific Island Forum country (excluding Australia). These countries are:

  • Cook Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Kiribati
  • Nauru
  • New Caledonia
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu

People can apply for a visitor visa if they are living in one of these countries, even if they are a citizen of another country.

From the 31st of July, visitor visas will be open to all countries and the border exceptions will be phased out. From here, the borders will be fully open like pre-COVID, with the new visa categories in full swing.

Temporary Visas

Most temporary visas remain suspended with the following exceptions:

  • Relationship-based visas for partners and dependent children of New Zealand
  • Citizens and residents
  • Visa applications made by people invited to apply because they have a critical purpose for being in New Zealand
  • Visas for diplomatic, consular and official staff and accompanying dependants
  • Antarctic Traveller Visitor Visas and Antarctic Work Visas
  • Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Limited Visas.

We’re Almost There

The border reopening is a welcome announcement for both migrants and those needing more staff in the labour shortage industries. It’s expected that there will be amendments in the coming weeks so keep an eye on our socials for alterations and changes.

If you’re looking for visa or accreditation help in the coming future, get in touch with the VisaMaxNZ team. We’re experts in what we do and have a passion for helping others achieve their goals.

Contact VisaMax NZ today