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Major Changes To Employer-Assisted Temporary Work Visas Expected In 2021.

Updated: Jul 17, 2021


The government is making changes to the way employers recruit some migrants for temporary work in New Zealand. Some important changes have already come into effect, including:


  • reinstating the ability for lower-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand;


  • the creation of undersupply and oversupply lists for Skills Match Reports that identify occupations and regions where there is a clear over or undersupply of New Zealanders on Job Seeker Support and who may be suitable to fill the role.

In 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will be bringing in more changes that affect some employers and the migrant workers they employ. These include:


  • a new temporary work visa that replaces 6 temporary work visas;


  • introducing a new employer-led visa application process that will involve 3 stages — the employer check, the job check and the worker check and


  • strengthening the labour market test for low-paid jobs and open access for high-paid jobs in rural regions and lists in cities.

A plan to introduce sector agreements for a range of industries that regularly employ migrant workers has been paused due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new process is still being designed, so there is a lot of detail that is not yet available. This includes information about fees, processing times and evidence that employers and migrants will have to provide in support of their applications.


Replacing six current temporary work visa categories with one new visa called the Temporary Work Visa


Under these changes, there will only be one type of employer-assisted temporary work visa that foreign workers can apply for. This visa will be the Temporary Work Visa and will replace the following six work visa categories: Essential Skills, Approval in Principle, Work to Residence – Talent (Accredited Employer), Work to Residence – Long Term Skills Shortage List Occupations, Silver Fern Job Search and Silver Fern Practical Experience.


The Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme is not impacted by these changes.


Introducing a new employer-led visa application process that will involve three stages – the employer check, the job check and the worker check


The Government wants to make the process of hiring a temporary foreign worker easier and more straightforward by providing more certainty earlier about whether or not an employer will be able to hire a foreign worker for a particular job.


To do this, the Government will introduce an employer-led visa application process which will include three specific steps:


1. the employer check - it will be mandatory for all employers, including those with an existing accreditation, to be accredited under the new application process before they can hire migrants on the new work visa.

2. the job check - this will include checking that the job is paid in line with the New Zealand market rate and, in some cases, will include a labour market test to ensure New Zealand workers are not available.

3. the worker check - when the worker applies for a visa, they must show they meet our standard character, identity and health requirements, as well showing they have the skills to do the job they have been offered.

The new process will require all employers to be accredited before they can recruit a temporary foreign worker. There will be three types of accreditation:


  • Standard accreditation (for employers recruiting between one and five foreign workers in a 12 month period);


  • High volume accreditation (for employers recruiting more than five foreign workers in a 12 month period);


  • Accreditation for labour hire companies.


The standard accreditation will focus on assessing that the employer meets minimum employment and immigration regulatory standards, and that they are taking steps to reduce exploitation.


The high-volume and labour hire accreditations will focus on the same elements of standard accreditation with more comprehensive checks and additional standards for attracting and retaining New Zealand workers.


Once an employer is accredited, the job check will then assess whether the job the employer is seeking to recruit for is genuine, has terms and conditions (including pay) that are consistent with New Zealand standards and that the employer has made a real attempt to recruit a New Zealander.

Once an employer has passed the employer and job checks, they will be able to support a foreign worker for a temporary work visa. The worker check is the last stage of the application process and will check that the foreign worker meets health and character requirements. The visa application made as part of the worker check must still be made by the foreign workers, not their employer.



The INZ changes aim to ensure that temporary foreign workers are only recruited for genuine shortages and that employers across New Zealand can access the skills and labour they need.


Also, the government aim to increase expectations on employers to employ and train more New Zealanders, reduce exploitation of temporary foreign workers, reduce the misuse of the immigration system, create better connections between the immigration, education/skills and welfare systems as well as making the system easier to navigate.


The new visa and application process will have a phased implementation in 2021. This will ensure that all employers are not required to be accredited on the same day. Existing accredited employers will have a streamlined transition into the new system.


In the meantime, employers and temporary foreign workers should continue using existing processes for hiring foreign workers.


If you are working in New Zealand on a temporary work visa, your current visa is valid until it expires

More information on all these changes can be found at:

www.immigration.govt.nz/work-visa-changes


*Please note that New Zealand immigration policies and their application and interpretation are subject to change without notice and users should not rely on any information on this page being relevant at a future date. Users must contact Newvisa Co. directly to receive specific immigration advice. 


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