The words employers, skilled workers and working holiday makers around the globe have been waiting to hear: New Zealand borders are finally starting to open up for business!
The second stage (out of five) of the New Zealand border reopening is now in play offering employers the first opportunity to bring critical workers into the country (since the border closure almost two years ago) in a bid to ease the skills shortages.
Working holiday makers have been granted visa extensions and the new update allows families to reunite right before school holidays.
In this blog, we showcase what the changes mean for Australian and New Zealand businesses.
Snapshot of the updates: New Zealand border reopening
- From 14 March 2022, critical workers earning $40.50/hour (or $84,240pa) and their dependent family can seek a Border Exception to enter New Zealand with no requirement to evidence their skills are not available in New Zealand.
- Partners and dependent children of temporary visa holders currently in New Zealand and being paid at least $40.50/hour (or $84,240pa) can also apply for a Border Exception to join their partner or parent in New Zealand
- And, finally, working holiday schemes reopen on a rolling basis, with visa extensions and invitations allowing working holiday makers to re-enter New Zealand.
This is great news for TMA’s clients with New Zealand operations, opening them up to critical talent and the rest of the world again and allowing families to reunite.
Need-to-know information about New Zealand’s reopening
1. Critical workers and their families can now enter the country
Employers who have made a permanent or fixed-term offer of employment for over six months to an offshore employee with a remuneration of at least $40.50 an hour (or $84,240pa based on a 40‐hour working week) can now apply for a Border Exception to allow that skilled worker to enter New Zealand despite ongoing border restrictions.
Employers no longer have to demonstrate that the worker’s skills are not readily obtainable in New Zealand.
Once the Border Exception is approved, the applicant will be invited to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa or Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions, which, once granted, allows them to travel to New Zealand. Dependent family members can be included in the Border Exception and Critical Purpose visa application. Once in New Zealand, individuals can then apply for longer term temporary visas.
Conditions apply, so please get in touch with the TMA team and one of our NZ Immigration Advisors can help assess whether you qualify and how to navigate these new changes.
2. Working Holiday Schemes reopen
Applications for working holiday visas re-opened on March 14, 2022 for applicants from the following countries:
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
The reopening of the Working Holiday Schemes is a step in the right direction to ease the pressure of employers in desperate need of staff. This is expected to both support employers, especially in hospitality and primary sectors, facing worker shortages, while also providing a boost to New Zealand’s tourism sector ahead of the reopening of the borders more broadly to tourists later in the year.
Immigration New Zealand has also granted new Working Holiday Visas to people previously granted a Working Holiday Visa on or after March 20, 2019, but have not been able to enter New Zealand. The Working Holiday Visa of visa holders who are offshore has been extended to allow entry to New Zealand after the first entry before date conditions.
Working holiday schemes with other countries will re-open in a phased approach:
3. Restrictions still in place for unvaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and eligible travellers from all other countries can now travel to and from New Zealand without the need to enter managed quarantine. The need for self-isolation for eligible fully vaccinated travellers, who test negative on arrival, has also been removed.
However, MIQ (Government Managed Isolation and Quarantine) will remain in place for unvaccinated New Zealanders, while pre-departure Covid-19 testing for all travellers to New Zealand, unless they have a medical exception, also continues to be a requirement for entry.
New Zealand’s reopening stages
New Zealand will reopen its borders entirely by October. The reopening milestones include:
|STAGE 1: February, 2022||Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers such as holders of a Critical Purpose visa arriving from Australia can travel to New Zealand from 11.59pm on Sunday, February 27, 2022 without the need to enter MIQ and without the need to isolate if arriving on or after 11.59pm on Wednesday, March 2.|
|STAGE 2(a): March, 2022||From 11.59pm on Friday, March 4, 2022 fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers from all other countries can travel to New Zealand without the need to enter MIQ or isolation.|
|STAGE 2(b): March, 2022||From 11.59pm on Sunday, March 13, 2022 critical workers earning $40.50/hour or $84,240pa and their dependent family can seek a Border Exception to be able to enter New Zealand with no requirement to evidence their skills are not available in New Zealand.|
Partners and dependent children of temporary visa holders currently in New Zealand and being paid at least $40.50/hour or $84,240pa can also apply for a Border Exception to join their partner or parents in New Zealand.
Working Holiday schemes reopen on a rolling basis.
|STAGE 3: April, 2022||Up to 5000 international students will be able to enter New Zealand ahead of Semester 2 from April 12, 2022.|
Temporary Work and Student Visa holders outside of New Zealand can travel to New Zealand as long as they still meet the conditions of their visa. Temporary Work and Student Visa holders currently in New Zealand can also travel abroad and return to New Zealand without requiring a Border Exception.
Further changes may be made to Border Exception categories and approved classes of workers.
|STAGE 4: July 2022||Australian citizens, permanent residents and other travellers from Australia as well as Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) Holders and Visitors from Visa Waiver countries will be able to enter New Zealand without the need to enter MIQ from July, 2022 at the latest. It is possible this date will be moved forward.|
AEWV holders are expected to be limited to roles paid above the New Zealand median wage (currently NZD$27/hour).
|STAGE 5: October 2022||The New Zealand border will reopen in full to all travellers including visitors.|
Contact TMA today for your immigration solution
As the world reopens after the Covid pandemic, it’s important to have an experienced and specialised immigration solutions partner on your team to help you navigate the changes.
If you have questions on the New Zealand updates provided, or would like to discuss how these changes affect your organisation, please contact us.