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What to Expect after the Elections: An Immigration Update

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New Zealanders have clearly expressed their desire for change through the recent election, granting a fresh mandate to a new government. Immigration policies will undoubtedly take centre stage, and we should anticipate further changes to policies and the introduction of new ones.

Created by Arunima Dhingra – Director of Aims Global, Chairperson of NZAMI, and Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser #200900407 

This article will discuss the following:

  1. Proposed immigration changes by the new government.
  2. A synopsis of relevant developments in the immigration space that HR professionals should be aware of. 

Immigration plans of the new government parties


Some of their key policies include:

  • Introduction of a Parent Visa Boost for parents and grandparents of migrants.
  • Boosting international education through measures like faster visa processing times. 
  • Steps to enhance the tourism sector, including giving businesses better access to workers with more flexible working holiday visas.
  • Restoration of the 90-day employment trial periods for all businesses.
  • Attracting highly skilled and experienced individuals through new visa categories like International Graduates Visa, Global Growth Tech Visa, and Digital Nomad Visa.
  • Disestablishing the Te Pūkenga polytechnic merger and restoring local decision-making.


Some of their key policies include:

  • Introduction of a Unite Visa to allow parents to visit their children or grandchildren in New Zealand.
  • Subjecting major immigration policy decisions to a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA).
  • Removal of the cap on the Parent Residence category scheme and introduction of mandatory public health insurance for Parent Resident Visa holders.
  • Demand-based pricing for temporary work visas.
  • Modifying the Skilled Migrant Category to offer predictable pathways for migrants.
  • Improving Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) processing timeframes. 

NZ First 

Some of their key policies include:

  • Fast-tracking the sourcing of 2000 doctors by amending the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.
  • Enable Residence within 30 days of arrival and Permanent Residence within two years for in-demand clinical staff trained and registered in certain countries. 
  • Establishing a New Zealand Border Protection Force that combines functions of the New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Customs Service, and INZ.
  • A Population Strategy to enable immigration to address skill shortages, economic opportunities, and humanitarian responsibilities. 
  • Removal of the Accredited Employer Worker Visa (AEWV) and replacing it with a Skills Shortage Visa and Labour Shortage Visa.
  • Introduction of a Rural Visa scheme for communities of less than 100,000 residents. 

The critical question remains: will these proposed immigration reforms genuinely improve the existing system? Ultimately, the success of these changes will depend on their implementation, and we’ll just have to wait and watch.

Latest Immigration Updates

Accreditation and AEWV statistics Here are the key figures, as of 16 September 2023:

Top 3 nationalities of AEWV holders:

  1. India
  2. Philippines
  3. China

Top 3 occupations of AEWV holders:

  1. Builder's Labourer
  2. Carpenter
  3. Cook

Suspension of accreditation without needing investigation

The last government stated that later this year, INZ will have the power to suspend accreditation for employers without the need for a formal investigation. This can occur when there are indications that an employer may be in breach of specific immigration and employment standards.

Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa (MEPV) 

Cases of migrant exploitation have been on the rise and have been receiving a lot of coverage in the media. The Government has been investigating allegations and evaluating the AEWV scheme itself. The Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV) is the pathway for migrants that claim to have suffered exploitation.

This visa has a validity of up to six monthswith the allowance of applying for an extension of up to another six months recently being announced. This total of 12 months on an MEPV, together with INZ’s ability to suspend an employer’s accreditation without an investigation open, can put businesses at a disadvantage. So, it is important that businesses are aware of this change. 

Increase in Job Check processing times

INZ has recently, and with no notice, modified its assessment process for Employer Accreditation and Job Checks. This involves more information requests from employers to verify job vacancies and support for planned hires, leading to longer processing times for these applications. 

INZ had initially established a timeframe of 10 working days for both these applications. It has only recently advised that employers should now allocate a processing time of six weeks each for Accreditation and Job Check applications. The reality on the ground is that most Job Checks are currently taking longer than six weeks.

We are very mindful that these extremely long processing times are detrimental to successfully hiring international workers. This has been escalated to INZ management and further communication from them is awaited. If you have an application that hasn’t yet been allocated and requires urgent allocation, you can get it escalated request for an escalation; the bar for this escalation remains quite high though. Reach out to us to learn how we can help you navigate these circumstances.

Increase in maximum continuous stay on an AEWV

Starting from 27 November 2023, the Government will introduce a maximum continuous stay of five years on an AEWV for individuals who do not have a clear pathway to residence. The maximum duration of an AEWV will be extended from three years to five years. Care workforce (those paid at least the level 3 pay rate) AEWVs will be extended from two years to three years.

What this change means is that an individual can spend a maximum of five years on an AEWV. If they want to apply for another AEWV, they will need to spend at least 12 months in a row outside New Zealand before they apply for it.

To align with this upcoming change, those on existing AEWVs will be able to apply for a further visa to get up to 5 years in total (including time already spent on an AEWV). Employers will not need to apply for a further Job Check for the role and you can reuse the existing job token, if:

  • Your employee has an AEWV on 26 November 2023
  • You offer them the same role, in the same location, and
  • You pay them at least the amount listed in their current AEWV conditions.

Other salient updates

  • Changes have been made to how INZ assesses character issues for temporary visa applications. A new policy section has been added for applicants who have character issues
    and did not declare it in their applications.
  • The new 6-point SMC Resident Visa opened for applications on 9 October 2023. The final EOI selection under the 180 points Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa was on 16 August 2023. Read more about how the new system differs from the old one here.
  • The Recovery Visa scheme closed to new applications in September 2023. Current visa holders will receive a 3-month extension on their existing visas.
  • 17 new roles will be added to the Green List from March 2024.
  • 7 new roles will be added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement from March 2024.
  • Judicial warrants are now required for out-of-hours AEWV compliance visits.
  • The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap will be increased by 500 places for the 2023/24 season.
  • Increased minimum pay and sick leave for RSE workers came into effect on 1 October 2023. Employers must now pay their RSE workers the minimum wage of $24.97/hr. They will receive 10 days paid sick leave. 

Attend Our Upcoming Panel Event

If you are an HR professional and keen to know more about what the future of NZ immigration looks like in the months to come, join us for this post-election panel discussion in Auckland (you can join in-person or online) brought to you by Aims Global Immigration, and supported by RCSA (The Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association) and Auckland Business Chamber

Hear from business and industry leaders as they explore the sustainability of immigration policies. These policies directly affect thousands of Kiwi businesses and migrant workers, making it crucial for you to stay informed. As an employer, HR manager, or recruiter, this one-of-a-kind panel event is a must-attend. The proceedings will also be livestreamed.

Click here to book your in-person ticket or here to secure your online seat. See you there!

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