Immigration changes – how will they affect employers?

Changes to work visas are being rolled out by the Government over the next two years, affecting all employers who employ overseas workers.

The biggest changes will be seen under the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa and Temporary Work Visas. The outcomes are a result of a consultation carried out by the Government between December 2018 and March 2019.

What are the changes?

Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa:

The following changes came into effect on Monday 7th October. These do not apply to employees already using the visa, or for applications submitted prior 7th October:

  • Employers will need to pay a minimum salary of NZD $79,560, up from $55,000. This is based on a 40-hour week or NZD $38.25 per hour and applies to all applications submitted from 7th October.
  • Employees will no longer be able to obtain a Permanent Resident Visa if they’ve applied for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa. This only applies to new applications.
  • Employers will need to reapply for ‘Accreditation’ status every 24 months.

Employer assisted temporary work visas:

The following changes to this visa are being rolled out in stages with the aim of being fully implemented by 2021.  

  • The current employer-assisted 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) will be replaced with one new visa, the ‘Temporary Work Visa’.
  • New 3-stage employer-led visa application process: employer check, job check, and the worker check.
  • Existing skill bands will be replaced solely with a remuneration threshold instead of the current ANZSCO and salary requirements.
  • Skills shortages list to be removed.
  • New Regionalised Labour Market Test to be introduced as part of the job check.
  • New Sector Agreements which include agreeing on a workforce plan and conditions to be met for recruiting foreign workers for specified key occupations. Sectors identified for initial negotiations are residential care, meat processing, dairy, forestry, road freight transport, and tourism and hospitality. The construction, horticulture, and viticulture sectors are also being considered.
  • Reinstate the right for low-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand on visitor visas.

What does this mean for employers?

Unless your business is a Talented Accredited Employer, there are no immediate changes; however, Principal Consultant Steve Kennedy is encouraging employers to be aware of the potential implications for their business.

“The changes being implemented are part of the Government’s wider programme of workforce improvements to ensure more employment for New Zealanders and that foreign workers are only recruited for genuine shortages.

“Although the immediate changes will only affect Talented Accredited Employers (see above), all employers who rely on overseas workers will be affected by these changes in some form and will need to re-assess their workforce requirements moving forward.”

For further details about the changes, take a look at the Government’s guide for employers here:

To discuss workforce planning for your business / organisation, contact Steve Kennedy on (03) 366 4034 or email

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